While Tennessee is on the verge of signing another nationally ranked recruiting class, this is an appropriate time to update the 2007 class.
It’s 4 years old now and looking considerably worse for the wear. In fact, it’s barely recognizable.
In 2007, Rivals ranked it as the No. 3 class in the nation. It also named then-UT assistant coach Trooper Taylor as one of college football’s top 25 recruiters for his role in assembling a class that supposedly could help return the Vols to national prominence.
In fairness to all those involved, it should be noted that Taylor and Rivals are doing just fine. UT’s class? Not quite as well.
Eric Berry became a two-time first-team All-America safety, the fifth player taken in the 2010 NFL draft, and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. No one else in the class has made first-team All-SEC. By their fourth season, only 10 of the 25 signees were still on UT’s roster.
Here’s the player-by-player breakdown:
Anthony Anderson — The former Austin-East star has at least been a contributor, which distinguishes him from a number of the more high-profile recruits in this class. He led the 2010 Vols in special-teams tackles and provided depth at cornerback as a junior.
Eric Berry — The Parade All-American from Fairburn, Ga., started and starred as a true freshman defensive back. Although he played only three years, he’s regarded as one of the best players in school history.
William Brimfield — The former first-team all-stater from Norway, S.C., left UT before spring practice in 2010 and transferred to Division II North Alabama, where he started at offensive tackle this past season.
B. J. Coleman — The all-state quarterback from Chattanooga didn’t make it through the Lane Kiffin era, much less the Derek Dooley era. When he didn’t win the starting quarterback job in the spring of 2009, he transferred to Chattanooga, where he became an immediate starter. He passed for 2,996 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2010.
Kevin Cooper — Another all-stater from Chattanooga, he stuck around through three UT coaches and started 24 games at fullback. He lost his starting job to freshman Channing Fugate in the last month of his senior season.
Lennon Creer — The two-time all-state running back from Tatum, Texas, rushed for more than 600 yards in two seasons at UT before transferring to Louisiana Tech. He rushed for 1,181 yards with the Bulldogs in 2010.
Chris Donald — The Parade All-American linebacker from Huntingdon was rated as the No. 1 linebacker prospect by Rivals when he was signed but was later regarded as the biggest bust of the class. Like Coleman, he benefited from a transfer to Chattanooga, where he led the team in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (12.5) this past season.
C.J. Fleming — A two-time second-team all-state defensive back in Richmond, Va., he has one season remaining at UT, where he has played in six games the past three years.
Savion Frazier — He rushed for more than 1,400 yards in his senior season in Woodbridge, Va., but has been used exclusively at linebacker by the Vols. He made five career starts and contributed as a back-up linebacker and on special teams in his four seasons at UT.
Josh Hawkins — A first-team all-state running back at Loudon, he moved to linebacker at UT but played in only a few games before quitting the team last spring.
Gerald Jones — The 2006 Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma, he was a three-year starter at wide receiver for the Vols. He led the team in receiving the last two years and finished his career fifth on UT’s all-time career receptions list.
Tyler Maples — The all-state wide receiver helped lead Maryville to three state championships but played sparingly at UT before transferring to Furman. He had 19 pass receptions last season.
Ben Martin — A Parade All-American from Cincinnati, he missed the 2010 season with an Achilles tendon injury. Martin, who started at defensive end in 2009, will be a senior in 2011.
Nevin McKenzie — A junior college safety from San Antonio, he switched to linebacker at UT, where he started as a senior in 2008. He led the team with five sacks and also had 10 tackles for loss.
Rolando Melancon — A first-team all-state defensive lineman from Gramercy, La., he’s the answer to a trivia question: Who’s the only UT signee to be kicked off the Louisiana Tech team by current UT coach Derek Dooley? He failed to qualify academically at UT, later signed with Tech, but was dismissed by then-coach Dooley in 2009.
Denarius Moore — A Texas all-state receiver and state-champion hurdler, he used his speed to become one of the SEC’s top deep threats as a senior. He averaged 21.2 yards per catch in 2010, and had 40 or more receptions in each of his past two seasons.
Kenny O’Neal — A regular vagabond, the former five-star wide receiver started out at Florida State, transferred to junior college, then to UT, where he had two career catches. He struggled academically before leaving the program in the spring of 2008.
Ahmad Paige — A two-time all-state wide receiver from Monroe, La., he seldom played in two years at UT before transferring to Louisiana Tech. He caught 16 passes last season as a junior.
Dennis Rogan — An all-state running back at Fulton High School, Rogan became a solid defensive back at UT. He started at cornerback for two seasons before declaring for the NFL draft after his junior year. He wasn’t drafted.
Rae Sykes — The three-time all-state defensive lineman from Alcoa attended junior college after initially signing with the Vols. He played in eight games as a back-up defensive tackle last season and has one year of eligibility remaining.
Daryl Vereen — A three-time all-conference player in Charlotte, N.C., he switched from running back to linebacker at UT. He has another year of eligibility after starting one game and making 15 tackles in 2010.
Brent Vinson — An outstanding football and basketball player from Hampton, Va., Vinson started 10 games in 2007, was hampered by injuries in 2008, and was kicked off the team at the end of the 2009 season. He transferred to the University of North Alabama, where he had three interceptions, broke up six passes and made 20 tackles last season.
Chris Walker — The PrepStar All-America linebacker from Memphis moved to defensive end, where he overcame injuries to become a two-year starter and team leader for the Vols.
Rufus Williams — The all-state defensive end from Mims, Fla., failed to qualify academically. He played linebacker last season for East Central Community College in Decatur, Miss.
DeAngelo Willingham — A PrepStar All-American from Saint Matthew, S.C., he arrived at UT following two years in junior college. He started at cornerback for the Vols in 2007 and 2008. He was not drafted, and has been signed and waived by five different teams since leaving UT.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.