Persistence pays off in 2011 signing class

A snapshot of the 2011 University of Tennessee football signing class.

A snapshot of the 2011 University of Tennessee football signing class.

Derek Dooley on the Vols' 2011 signing class

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Derek Dooley didn’t blink last fall when it looked as if his first full signing class was struggling to come together.

The Tennessee football coach simply stuck to his plan, checked the calendar and went back to work.

The players Dooley was chasing that whole time didn’t flinch either when the day finally came to make it official.

They made their own plans, checked the calendar to see that Wednesday was National Signing Day and signed their name to go work for the Vols.

The patient, persistent approach from everybody involved eventually came together on a day that essentially played out exactly as UT planned it, with Dooley collecting 27 signatures for a class that should finish with a consensus top-15 ranking that has been building for months.

“Everybody was panicking back in June because we had one commitment,” Dooley said in his first press conference since the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30. “But the way we recruit is very process-driven. We don’t throw hot sauce on them on the final weekend and try to scoop them in. I don’t think that stands the test of time, and I don’t think guys that come here with that kind of hot sauce on them, (if) that appeals to them, are the kind of guys that stick.

“Developing a deep relationship over time, selling what Tennessee has to sell, I think when you do that on enough players, eventually you’ll get a quality class.”

On paper Dooley has put together his second solid group in a row with UT, providing more critical pieces to the rebuilding puzzle he started a little more than a year ago.

And while he again downplayed the importance of recruiting stars and evaluations and cautioned there was plenty more work to be done, Dooley appeared much more confident and optimistic than he did while introducing his initial signing class — part of which was inherited from the previous staff and the rest of which was salvaged with just a couple weeks of work.

With a full year at his disposal, Dooley made the most of it after going 6-7 in his first campaign, bringing in six players in the ESPNU 150, landing three heralded junior-college products and filling positions of need all across the board.

He also squeezed everything out of those 12 months, landing some of his biggest commitments in the hours leading up to National Signing Day — including four-star Nashville offensive lineman Antonio Richardson, Memphis tight end Cameron Clear and West Palm Beach, Fla., defensive end Curt Maggitt.

“I know these guys,” Dooley said. “I had two weeks to get these other guys, and I suspected that we had some good ones. But I didn’t recruit (right tackle) Ja’Wuan James. I did (center) James Stone, but I only knew James for a week.

“I feel like I have a better feel for the kind of players and the kind of people these guys are. Now, I say that with a lot of caution because it’s not an exact science. We don’t know, but I do think we’ve done a pretty good job of minimizing risk.”

Dooley preached that risk-management philosophy relentlessly as he methodically picked up commitments, sticking to the approach and fending off doubts that it was working when it didn’t immediately yield commitments.

And by the time the Vols were all done, that style had won over a batch of newcomers who didn’t back down when they did pledge their word before they could make it official.

“I think this is the first time I’ve ever been involved where every single player who committed never flinched,” Dooley said. “They never wavered, they never got shaky, they never got confused, they never went on another trip of significance.

“I think that is a real testament to the quality of people that we had and the type of recruiting that we do, which is done for the long haul.”

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 61

txsvol#372416 writes:

Recruiting for needs, but maybe we can grow a couple into DTs. Just like fishing, we can't fret about the big ones that got away! Go Vols! SAVol

VolMoment writes:

Great job staff. Dooley will continue to make us proud. Glad he is our coach and also his staff.

TNMadman writes:

Thanks Coach Dooley...I really like where this program is headed!

nocleats writes:

Great Class, all will contribute. Have to believe that either Wright or Dawson lied to Coach Dooley, thats why he made the 28 minus 1 comment about his commits

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

We are more loaded than I am and that is really really saying something!!!!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mule_Days_King writes:

He practiced what he preached: He concerned himself with the process and not the result.

Great job, Coach.

scvols writes:

I did not think Dooley could do it, I was wrong. Go BIG Orange.

easleychuck writes:

Thank you for all of the hard work that all of the coaches led by Coach Dooley put in to make this recruiting season a success.

The time that they put in on the road away from their families has to be tough, but I hope they understand that this sacrifice is appreciated by folks that they will never meet.

The players did their part in showing the recruits what is going on in Knoxville to make UT a force again on the field.

I never understand the comments about "the ones that got away". They chose to go elsewhere. Their decisions and hopefully their losses for not being part of a special place.

BigOrangeInEngland writes:

I have supported the Vols since 1990 when the opener against Colorado was shown on TV over here in England. Ever since I have been Big Orange through and through. I have only made it to one game, the home opener in 2001 against Syracuse. Riding a Knox County School Bus to the game. I love Tennessee.
It's great to be a Tennessee Vol.
What a recruiting class by CDD.
GBO !!!!!

NashvillePreds writes:

Very impressive. I will be the first to say I was among the doubters, as we hovered towards the back of the Top 25, in terms of recruiting. A very positive finish, and a fantastic day for Tennessee football.

Go Vols

EHSvols23 writes:

Great great great recruiting class by CDD. What I really love is that all the major recruits in the state went to UT. I know a few fled across the border to Ky, but nothing like what happened with Randall Cobb or Golden Tate. I remember Lame saying he was building a fence around the state, but couldn't do it. It much better driving the Dooley than riding the lame train. GO BIG ORANGE

RoadTrip writes:

in response to EHSvols23:

Great great great recruiting class by CDD. What I really love is that all the major recruits in the state went to UT. I know a few fled across the border to Ky, but nothing like what happened with Randall Cobb or Golden Tate. I remember Lame saying he was building a fence around the state, but couldn't do it. It much better driving the Dooley than riding the lame train. GO BIG ORANGE

That's because Vols understand the need for dualies (dooley's) better than they do for Liar Surfer Dudes.

Ga_Dave writes:

I am so proud of what CDD and staff did to bring us this class. Yes, I really wanted Jernigan and Wright, but after hearing about Wright's hijinks with the Nick Who cap, maybe we didn't lose out on much there. And as for Dawson, HE'LL BE SORRY going with Lame. Great job CDD and GBO

these_orange_colored_glasses writes:

in response to BigOrangeInEngland:

I have supported the Vols since 1990 when the opener against Colorado was shown on TV over here in England. Ever since I have been Big Orange through and through. I have only made it to one game, the home opener in 2001 against Syracuse. Riding a Knox County School Bus to the game. I love Tennessee.
It's great to be a Tennessee Vol.
What a recruiting class by CDD.
GBO !!!!!

what an awesome story...and what an awesome game that was back in 1990, dale carter coming-out party, 2 int's i think... awesome story though.

MusicCityVol writes:

Great job by Dooley and the whole staff! This class came together really well at the end.

We had 7 signees from TN, 7 from GA, and 6 from FL. That and other interesting facts about the class of 2011 can be found here...
http://checkerboardchatter.blogspot.c...

Hounddog writes:

in response to BigOrangeInEngland:

I have supported the Vols since 1990 when the opener against Colorado was shown on TV over here in England. Ever since I have been Big Orange through and through. I have only made it to one game, the home opener in 2001 against Syracuse. Riding a Knox County School Bus to the game. I love Tennessee.
It's great to be a Tennessee Vol.
What a recruiting class by CDD.
GBO !!!!!

Are you saying you are a VOL fan in England? You are not someone that moved from Tennessee as a VOL fan to England? If so, man tell us more. Hounddog

VolunteerLifer writes:

I see this class as a successful foundation for the future. Our first need was a base line of depth, and that has been achieved. Our next need was an increase in quality in our 2 deep, and that has been achieved. Next year's class will be recruited to increase quality throughout the depth chart. We will be able to afford to be more picky about quality now that we have established depth.

I'm very impressed with the way this staff went about putting this class together, and it gives me confidence in future recruiting classes they will bring in. Kudos to all the coaches, the new recruits, and the current players who participated in the recruiting effort. Can't tell you guys how much I appreciate all the hard work.

colt45 writes:

Thanks Coach Dooley and staff,
You planned your work and worked your plan. At this time in Tennessee sports we needed some good news and to see our coaches with a plan that works.

shulessjo writes:

Let's not forget who the FIRST UT commitment was for 2011... LB Christian Harris... GO Vols and Go Mr Harris....Thank you for your confidence and loyalty in the Big Orange.....Vol for Life...

shulessjo writes:

Thanks to each player signed from the our great state of Tennessee... AND those from South Carolina, Georgia, California, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and of course Michigan

IBleedOrange71 writes:

The first thing a coach has to do is stop all the leaks and I mean Mr. Dooley did that by filling all the holes. What a class, what a staff, what a great football team and what a Great University we have! That being said, everyone knows through out the country that Justin Worley is at least a better QB than what they were listing him as, so IHO, we have a top 10 recruiting class. Go Vols!!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I guess you could count me as a doubter on Dooleys recruiting ability..Competing against Bama;Auburn;Fla;GA and LSU in recruiting is tough to say the least but considering last years team finished far from the top #25 Dooley's recruiting was right on their tail..No question BCS exposure and NC rings breed successful recruiting but Dooley bucked the trend and also proved to be excellent at player evaluation on 3star talent.Iam most impressed by the DB's we signed..Randolph and Martin are impressive and so are the 2 JUCO pickups!! Brewer and Teague did okay last year in a pinch but now we have real depth and talent..Also I suspect Loften will return too

IBleedOrange71 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

I guess you could count me as a doubter on Dooleys recruiting ability..Competing against Bama;Auburn;Fla;GA and LSU in recruiting is tough to say the least but considering last years team finished far from the top #25 Dooley's recruiting was right on their tail..No question BCS exposure and NC rings breed successful recruiting but Dooley bucked the trend and also proved to be excellent at player evaluation on 3star talent.Iam most impressed by the DB's we signed..Randolph and Martin are impressive and so are the 2 JUCO pickups!! Brewer and Teague did okay last year in a pinch but now we have real depth and talent..Also I suspect Loften will return too

I think that Justin Wilcox will put those DB's in the right system to make them extremely successful and feared. I did however really like what I was seeing out of Brent Brewer towards the end of the season. That man was putting some serious hits on people and he has what 3 years left? He'll be somewhere around 29 when he finishes his career here at UT, so I hope he makes us proud. I like what you said about Dooley bucking the trend. I truly believe he has a gifted eye for the right talent. We can still beat the other top ranked SEC schools any given Saturday with this coaching staff.

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

The Big Orange is more loaded than I am and that is really really saying something!!!!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
...

murrayvol writes:

The gift that keeps on giving. Geezus!

CarlChilders writes:

Tennessee players = Tennessee pride and blood on the field.

CarlChilders writes:

And, what's your number Layla?

troubleinc writes:

in response to BigOrangeInEngland:

I have supported the Vols since 1990 when the opener against Colorado was shown on TV over here in England. Ever since I have been Big Orange through and through. I have only made it to one game, the home opener in 2001 against Syracuse. Riding a Knox County School Bus to the game. I love Tennessee.
It's great to be a Tennessee Vol.
What a recruiting class by CDD.
GBO !!!!!

I agree with Orange Colored Glasses and the Hound Dog. Cool story.

1990 Pigskin Classic: UT should have won the 1990 game with Colorado, think it was a 31-31 tie. Colorado ended up winning the AP title that year and UT won the SEC and beat Virginia in the Sugar Bowl. Hope this signing class helps CDD lead us back to where this program was in those glorious 90s.

PeeEllthree writes:

The sheik expected to get only 3 of those last 7. UT got 4. No surprise decommits. Laid some good foundation today. Very pleased.

AZ_Vol writes:

Lookin' like the Vols will be makin' another trip out here to 'Zona to play in the Fiesta a few years sooner than I thought.

We'll leave the light on for our Volunteers...

amgragg writes:

Great job coach! Congrates on your first full class. Today shows how much we need to be behind our man and the team. I have a special feeling about this bunch, it may take a couple of years but a Championship of one or another is not out of the question.

CoverOrange writes:

"Failure to monitor" falls back into Mike Hamilton's lap. Couple this with the UTBB surplus of phone calls that the compliance department missed and it really looks bad for the AD. He'll probably claim Reaves was a rogue agent but the NCAA really can't do anything to Reaves or Kiffin except watch them closely. Since changes have been made I'm guessing probation for a couple years and loss of one scholarship from each athletic team.

GerryOP writes:

Dooley handled it ... brought in the raw material for the next layer of the foundation.

219 -- Fear The Dooley Dude

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to IBleedOrange71:

I think that Justin Wilcox will put those DB's in the right system to make them extremely successful and feared. I did however really like what I was seeing out of Brent Brewer towards the end of the season. That man was putting some serious hits on people and he has what 3 years left? He'll be somewhere around 29 when he finishes his career here at UT, so I hope he makes us proud. I like what you said about Dooley bucking the trend. I truly believe he has a gifted eye for the right talent. We can still beat the other top ranked SEC schools any given Saturday with this coaching staff.

I liked Dooley's philosophy on minimizing risk. We could not afford another group of guys (like Nu'keese and Eddrick Loften) that couldn't stay out of trouble or get into school. Also, this crop averages a 20 on the ACT and a 3.0 core gpa; that won't guarantee that all the guys get qualified, but it will help.

Also, does anyone know if Moore can return punts? He looks like he has a nose for the end zone.

everydayisorange writes:

This writer is a UT hater. I checked other media outlets and there was no mention of this. I would not worry until it is blasted all over ESPN. If this were true, you know they would have it every where!

BigBadVol writes:

It's simple. We are improving under Dooley's leadership. He has done a tremendous job of hiring a staff and a great job of bringing in young men with talent and character. Give him time and the results will come. GBO!!

everydayisorange writes:

Above comment was for shipperman.

EHSvols23 writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

Above comment was for shipperman.

EDIO,
I have to disagree with you on that one. Clay is not a UT hater. He's a journalist. Having read his books, I know he has a deep love for UT. My only complaint with the article was the lack of detail as to possible sanctions regarding the possible finding. Certainly, there could have been some more fact finding done on that part.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

This writer is a UT hater. I checked other media outlets and there was no mention of this. I would not worry until it is blasted all over ESPN. If this were true, you know they would have it every where!

Clay Travis is known as a fan of UTFB, has written a book on UTFB and is often accused of wearing orange shades. ESPN won't say anything unless their sources say it. Travis maybe a bit closer to the story.

EHSvols23 writes:

in response to volballrocks:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Suprise suprise, they are using two loopholes to get around it. The first and most common(we may even use it too if we get some more guys) is that you can count some guys who enroll early back to the previous class if you had space left. The second is less common. USC is appealing the sanctions, thus, the penalties are "stayed". They don't apply, but if their appeal is denied, then either the sanctions will start next year, so they just put it off a year, or they will have more scholarships deducted from next year's total. As it was, they could only get 15, so if that becomes the case, you are looking at only being able to get 8 to 12. My guess is if they get denied, they will try and get the NCAA to adopt the kick the can down the road schedule instead of "punishing these innocent kids now"....I know its crazy, but it's Lane Kiffin. Are you suprised ?? For the greatness that his dad is, he is such a arrogant punk. I don't see the AD at USC Pat Haden wanting to go through this all the time. The quicker he can find a way to get rid of him, I think he will. Remember, Haden didn't hire him. He was brought in to clean up the place and get rid of people like Kiffin. It just cost too much at first without "just cause".

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to volballrocks:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

NCAA rule, adopted after the SEC implemented it, is 28 max per year. I think USC was allowed to exceed that because the NCAA allowed players on scholarship to leave without penalty once the 2-year bowl ban was in place. Anyway, we can sign one more, although we could also "gray-shirt" a kid, meaning we bring him to UT on scholarship but count him in next year's class. Are there any more kids out there we have a shot at?

asleep#212036 writes:

Great class. Just as a note, we are the highest rated recruiting class that does not include a 5-star player meaning that the folks at Rivals think we got a boatload of solid 4- and 3-star players which, in my opinion, is the only way to build a program. 5-stars are nice but of Kiffin's three - Richardson, Brown, and Jackson - only Jackson remains, and that by the skin of his convenience mart teeth. I'm pumped about this class and think IF Dooley and staff turn out to be great coaches as well as great recruiters, the Vols should be back in the top tier of the conference by 2012. Go Vols!!!

TrueVol70 writes:

Stealth recruiting. No one saw it coming but CDD delivered! This class will definitely help Tennessee get back on top.

jrobi124 writes:

I LOVE WHAT DOOLEY HAS DONE. HE IS RECRUITING THE RIGHT KIDS THAN HE IS PUTTING IT ON HIS SHOULDERS TO COACH THEM UP. IM SO GLAD LAME LEFT. GO DOOLEY AND HIS GREAT STAFF!! WELCOME ABOARD YOUNG MEN GO VOLS!!

FWBVol writes:

Some coaches recruit with smoke and mirrors trying to bring flash where there is no substance. Those coaches can recruit the fuzz of a peach, but often they kill the peach in the process.

Other coaches use their reputation of excellence over the long haul to recruit. Those guys like Mack Brown and Nick Saban can sell a program to a kid with their name and resume the moment they take a job.

But in the end, the best recruiters are the ones that know how to build relationships with high school coaches. They are the guys that lay a foundation in those relationships their first year or two at a school that will reap benefits for years to come.

I believe Derek Dooley is a relationship building coach. He wants to recruit quality football players, but he's also interest in recruiting quality young men to Tennessee. This will pay off big time in the long run.

I think in the years to come we will continue to see top 10 and 15 classes at UT. I was watching the coverage on ESPNU today, and even Urban Meyer admitted that sometimes the only difference between a top five class and a top 15 class was the hype from the media.

I like the way CDD is doing things.

GBO!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

I see this class as a successful foundation for the future. Our first need was a base line of depth, and that has been achieved. Our next need was an increase in quality in our 2 deep, and that has been achieved. Next year's class will be recruited to increase quality throughout the depth chart. We will be able to afford to be more picky about quality now that we have established depth.

I'm very impressed with the way this staff went about putting this class together, and it gives me confidence in future recruiting classes they will bring in. Kudos to all the coaches, the new recruits, and the current players who participated in the recruiting effort. Can't tell you guys how much I appreciate all the hard work.

Great summation of CDD's plan. Build the foundation deep and strong so the superstructure can ascend the heights. That was what always bothered me about Lame Kitten's approach. He seemed to go for the multi-star, big-stat guys to make a splash in the national media, but I was always concerned that he wasn't recruiting enough linemen to block for those guys and tackle the other team's stars. Dooley's house may not look as flashy on the top floors just yet, but it won't scatter in the winds like too much of Kitten's class did.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to EHSvols23:

EDIO,
I have to disagree with you on that one. Clay is not a UT hater. He's a journalist. Having read his books, I know he has a deep love for UT. My only complaint with the article was the lack of detail as to possible sanctions regarding the possible finding. Certainly, there could have been some more fact finding done on that part.

The exact extent and nature of the sanctions has probably not been decided yet. The precise allegations have not been officially published and UT's response will have to wait for that. Then the NCAA will have to evaluate that response. Much is yet to be determined. I doubt UT will get off scot-free, but the sky is not necessarily falling. Having made such a big deal of it, the NCAA can hardly come back and say, "Oh, well, never mind!" They will feel like they HAVE to do something, but it may not be the end of the world.

Hacksaw57 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Some coaches recruit with smoke and mirrors trying to bring flash where there is no substance. Those coaches can recruit the fuzz of a peach, but often they kill the peach in the process.

Other coaches use their reputation of excellence over the long haul to recruit. Those guys like Mack Brown and Nick Saban can sell a program to a kid with their name and resume the moment they take a job.

But in the end, the best recruiters are the ones that know how to build relationships with high school coaches. They are the guys that lay a foundation in those relationships their first year or two at a school that will reap benefits for years to come.

I believe Derek Dooley is a relationship building coach. He wants to recruit quality football players, but he's also interest in recruiting quality young men to Tennessee. This will pay off big time in the long run.

I think in the years to come we will continue to see top 10 and 15 classes at UT. I was watching the coverage on ESPNU today, and even Urban Meyer admitted that sometimes the only difference between a top five class and a top 15 class was the hype from the media.

I like the way CDD is doing things.

GBO!

Great Post!

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

"Failure to monitor" falls back into Mike Hamilton's lap. Couple this with the UTBB surplus of phone calls that the compliance department missed and it really looks bad for the AD. He'll probably claim Reaves was a rogue agent but the NCAA really can't do anything to Reaves or Kiffin except watch them closely. Since changes have been made I'm guessing probation for a couple years and loss of one scholarship from each athletic team.

I agree it does fall into M.H. lap. He is a very good fund raiser. So why cant he be just that and U.T. hire a real A.D.?
GO VOLS !!

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