John Adams: Key recruits can make big impact fast

John Adams

Fans in the Southeast often approach National Signing Day with the same anticipation as they do a national championship game. The connection isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.

The SEC has won six of the past eight national titles in football. Players signed the previous February figured prominently in the majority of those championships.

Former LSU running back Justin Vincent is a great example. He rushed for more than a 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2003 and was the most valuable player of both the SEC and national championship games.

Three years later, freshman quarterback Tim Tebow played a role in Florida's national championship. In 2009, freshman Trent Richardson rushed for 751 yards as a worthy backup to Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in Alabama's unbeaten national championship season.

No single recruit ever had a greater impact on an SEC team than quarterback Cam Newton. The junior college transfer won the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to an unbeaten national championship season in 2010.

But Newton wasn't the only Auburn recruit to have an immediate impact. Freshman running back Michael Dyer rushed for 1,093 yards and starred in the national championship game. No other school in SEC history has had that much offensive production that fast from a recruiting class.

You don't have to win a national championship to appreciate the instant value of a recruit. South Carolina wouldn't have made it to the SEC championship game in December if it hadn't signed 1,000-yard rusher back Marcus Lattimore last February. And it's unlikely Mississippi State would have finished in the top 25 without junior college recruit Vick Ballard, who ranked sixth in the conference in rushing yards per game.

Those success stories should heighten the interest in what happens with two of the most acclaimed recruits in this class - running back Isaiah Crowell of Columbus, Ga., and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of Rock Hill, S.C., both of whom are the subject of fierce SEC recruiting battles, and both of whom are considering Alabama.

If the recruiting services and recruiters are right about both Crowell and Clowney, those players could provide just what Alabama needs to win another national title. The stakes are high on the other side, too.

Georgia's Mark Richt is the most likely SEC coach to lose his job in 2011. But suppose Crowell could do for Georgia what Lattimore did for South Carolina last season? Perhaps he could elevate the Bulldogs above a mediocre East field and save Richt's job as well.

You might wonder why Crowell would even consider Georgia over Alabama. Alabama's Nick Saban is the coach with a history of relying on freshman running backs. Richt is the coach who redshirted Knowshon Moreno.

But never underestimate in-state appeal. Although Georgia had a rare losing season in 2010, it's assembling a top-10 class, based mainly on in-state talent.

South Carolina has proximity in its favor in the recruitment of Clowney. Its depth chart serves as another attraction.

The Gamecocks just lost star defensive end Cliff Matthews, so Clowney would have an opportunity to start right away. They could pair him with 6-foot-8 defensive end Devin Taylor, who has All-SEC potential.

Their improved conference status is tied to the recruitment of players like Clowney. Lattimore, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery all are former South Carolina high school players who distinguished themselves as freshmen after signing with the Gamecocks.

South Carolina likely will have to wait on Clowney. He's expected to sign on his birthday, Feb. 14. Crowell is scheduled to announce his decision Wednesday on ESPNU.

Anthony Johnson's signing could be as significant. The five-star defensive tackle has committed to LSU, which has a need at the position and is seemingly well-stocked enough elsewhere to contend for a national championship.

And, as the SEC has proved repeatedly, it takes only one recruit to turn a contender into a champion.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 49

hawaiivolfan writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

I agree adams loves lame kiffin to much to be a so called reporter for anythang UT related,hey johnboy....you suck

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to hawaiivolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nothing but negative from this fanbase. The sooner UT fans realize the the recent 4/5* busts have been a direct result of the state of the program, the better off they will be.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Can't wait 'til Wednesday to see how well Dooley and Co. have done! We can move up significantly if the younglings can learn to use the force! Hopefully, Yoda will say, "Recruited well, you have!"

lguy (Inactive) writes:

Why are you people so angry at Adams? He didn't say anything negative, and even if he did, why does that bother you so much? It's okay. Just relax. The world isn't after you or Tennessee.

dvhill100 writes:

I guess I don't understand the constant hatred toward John Adams. Yes, some of his articles have been less than complementary to the Tennessee program, but busting his chops over this article is just plain silly. There is nothing in there derogatory about Tennessee. He simply points out how the right incoming freshmen can positively move a program from good to great. Tennessee wasn't mentioned because they have fallen on hard times.

I also believe Coach Dooley will get us back. While we may not see another Eric Berry/Peyton Manning in this class, he seems to be putting together a very solid class. More success this year will equate to a better signing class next year. Patience will be rewarded.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

The Adam bashers are just are just showing a feeling of inferiority in the only way they can.

LaneBrains writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Nothing but negative from this fanbase. The sooner UT fans realize the the recent 4/5* busts have been a direct result of the state of the program, the better off they will be.

Rich: That's exaclty what Hammy said to us when he brought us in. Not only was there an immediate upgrade in 5* talent (Including the best recruit in the history of the school -- B Brown) we also upgraded the the coaching talent to the very best in college or the Pros!

We were sad to leave, but happy to contribute...Bray for example.

Stay Orange, Volunteers!
CLK, Monte and Ed

govols1234567 writes:

Any news on Byron Moore?

Futurecoach16 writes:

To Hawaii and Smoker: Do you have a reading comprehension problem? Cause obviously you can't see that there is nothing in this column that is negative against Tennessee. In fact, there was nothing mentioned about the Vols at all. You don't like his columns, yet you insist on reading them, and then cry like a 4 year old who just dropped his ice cream because you think he said something mean again. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Nobody forces you to read them.

govols1234567 writes:

in response to govols1234567:

Any news on Byron Moore?

Never mind ladies and gentlemen... 4star DB JUCO recruit Byron Moore is a Tennessee Volunteer!!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to govols1234567:

Never mind ladies and gentlemen... 4star DB JUCO recruit Byron Moore is a Tennessee Volunteer!!!

You beat me to it... He's really gonna boost our defensive backfield. People are referring to him as EB 2.0.... We shall see...

Is Dawson next?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to bankofdad3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm talking about football. Take the Steven Pearl talk to a hoops thread. Matter of fact have you EVER talked about ANYTHING on here (FOOTBALL, BASEBALL, BASKETBALL, etc.)? Nah, don't think so. Just cut on people and continue to be a D###. Talk some football or STFU.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

You beat me to it... He's really gonna boost our defensive backfield. People are referring to him as EB 2.0.... We shall see...

Is Dawson next?

Not sure if he's that good, but dude's highlight film is SICK! He'll play corner at almost 200lbs. That's what I'm talkin' bout.

RickyHite writes:

in response to bankofdad3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

steven pearl may very well be the worst d1 college player of all time . Surely no one is trying to oppose that huh??

PUL4VOLS writes:

But John we know when those key recruits come to Knoxville(accordiing to you)many just do not pan out. To you it's just all aboout Alabama. There are some of us who hope some key recruits come to Rocky Top this year and next year and the next year etc.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Key recruits can make a big impact? Ya think?

jobrando#216494 writes:

If you want just positive troll free VOL news you must join 247

Ayres_Hall writes:

Steven Pearl does not coach himself nor does he enter himself into the games. So if you have any issues with him then take it up with the head coach.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

Who pissed off Bill King about Tennessee recruiting and the overall future of Tennessee Vol football? If You listen to King, the Vols will never beat Bama, Florida, LSU ever again.Look, I realize the Vols have been down in wins and loses, roster numbers and it will be certainly be tough to get back in a a position to be one of the powers again, but I think Tennessee can get back. I know King and his flunkies laugh at us optimistic Vol fans for thinking that. Who needs Tennessee bashers when we have King? I know You guys were talking Adams, but who pissed off Bill King to have such a negative attitude about Tennessee football?

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

Way to go Byron Moore!!!!!!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!

We are off and running! Come on Cameron!!!!!!!!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

Who pissed off Bill King about Tennessee recruiting and the overall future of Tennessee Vol football? If You listen to King, the Vols will never beat Bama, Florida, LSU ever again.Look, I realize the Vols have been down in wins and loses, roster numbers and it will be certainly be tough to get back in a a position to be one of the powers again, but I think Tennessee can get back. I know King and his flunkies laugh at us optimistic Vol fans for thinking that. Who needs Tennessee bashers when we have King? I know You guys were talking Adams, but who pissed off Bill King to have such a negative attitude about Tennessee football?

Yeah. I was thinking the same thing yesterday. Frankly, I change the station when he talks Tennessee sports. Did you catch what he said about us on Finebaum?

CrankE writes:

Why doesn't KNS recruit some new talent? Hasn't Adams eligibility expired?

wagee12 writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

I agree adams loves lame kiffin to much to be a so called reporter for anythang UT related,hey johnboy....you suck

How does it feel to still be a Fullmurr Felcher over two years out from his dismissal? Fact is, John Adams is an outstanding columnist, but clowns like BigOrangeToker just can't get over the fact that Adams helped hasten the departure of the money grubbing Big Pappa Plump!

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

The Florida boards are reporting that Curt Maggitt has selected the Tennessee Vols!!! We are off and running! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

Vol86 writes:

We landed another 4 star recruit to make current total 9 and have the potential for a few more, and the kns is writing this junk. Get with current events. This is a knoxville paper. See ya on volnation guys.

FLAVOLS writes:

Forget it Wagee. These clowns have no idea what a Fulmer Felcher is.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to ghost_of_which_doctor:

The Florida boards are reporting that Curt Maggitt has selected the Tennessee Vols!!! We are off and running! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

The last I heard, he wasn't going to choose until Feb 10.

orangegrass writes:

Isn't this wonderful? As anticipated, all the good news is going to GoVolsExtra247 and the people who cannot pay or will not pay are stuck with Mr. Adams take on life in Big Orange Country. Gee thanks GNS.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

John, I've never been one to rag on you writers until now. But I am very annoyed that we get zero Vol recruiting news here anymore...unless we fork up the $10/mo, which I can't do. Here we got a big announcement from a recruit last night, and we're not given one article to read about it. When we were told that recruiting news here would not change, that 247 was just extra info, that was a lie. I'm frustrated at my need to dig around the internet to find info that you all should be telling us. You're losing folks. Just had to vent...

kcvols#219343 writes:

in response to pj_ladyvolnMI:

John, I've never been one to rag on you writers until now. But I am very annoyed that we get zero Vol recruiting news here anymore...unless we fork up the $10/mo, which I can't do. Here we got a big announcement from a recruit last night, and we're not given one article to read about it. When we were told that recruiting news here would not change, that 247 was just extra info, that was a lie. I'm frustrated at my need to dig around the internet to find info that you all should be telling us. You're losing folks. Just had to vent...

Just follow VN on Twitter, or the individual recruits. It's literally the best invention since sliced bread. Monopolies on information are no longer possible. I give GVX247 less than 18 months before they realize the model is broken.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Yeah. I was thinking the same thing yesterday. Frankly, I change the station when he talks Tennessee sports. Did you catch what he said about us on Finebaum?

Yes I heard King on Finebaum. Even Finebaum acted surprised at such negative commentaries on UT football. I think Finebaum said: Wow. He seemed to be taken back by such negative views. King did an afternoon talk show here in Nashville for years. For some reason, King and Joe Biddle were let go. I used to laugh and tell my Brother that it was pretty sad when Joe Biddle ( A Florida grad) had nicer things to say about us than what King often commented on. I do not want a homer always telling us everything is good when it is not, but I can not take this "It will be cold day down below before UT ever beats Bama and Florida on a consistent basis either". I will try and tune in at some point Wednesday in his Rivals radio show so I can get an idea of who UT signed or didn't sign or whatever the case might be.

GerryOP writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

Yes I heard King on Finebaum. Even Finebaum acted surprised at such negative commentaries on UT football. I think Finebaum said: Wow. He seemed to be taken back by such negative views. King did an afternoon talk show here in Nashville for years. For some reason, King and Joe Biddle were let go. I used to laugh and tell my Brother that it was pretty sad when Joe Biddle ( A Florida grad) had nicer things to say about us than what King often commented on. I do not want a homer always telling us everything is good when it is not, but I can not take this "It will be cold day down below before UT ever beats Bama and Florida on a consistent basis either". I will try and tune in at some point Wednesday in his Rivals radio show so I can get an idea of who UT signed or didn't sign or whatever the case might be.

I about ran off the road when I heard that Finebaum/King thing yesterday. The worst was when Finebaum asked King if he thought that Dooley could get us to where we need to be. A pause from King and then a simple "No." (Break to commercial.)

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

Yes I heard King on Finebaum. Even Finebaum acted surprised at such negative commentaries on UT football. I think Finebaum said: Wow. He seemed to be taken back by such negative views. King did an afternoon talk show here in Nashville for years. For some reason, King and Joe Biddle were let go. I used to laugh and tell my Brother that it was pretty sad when Joe Biddle ( A Florida grad) had nicer things to say about us than what King often commented on. I do not want a homer always telling us everything is good when it is not, but I can not take this "It will be cold day down below before UT ever beats Bama and Florida on a consistent basis either". I will try and tune in at some point Wednesday in his Rivals radio show so I can get an idea of who UT signed or didn't sign or whatever the case might be.

I never took King for a Vol basher. His latest comment is really out of left field. He used to be my favorite radio host. Being co-host with Joe Biddle on anything will quickly kill your career. He was especially entertaining when he would get on rants about firing Randy Sanders.

GerryOP writes:

All you guys hatin' on Adams, you're just jealous! He gets paid for stating his opinion while all of us on here do the same thing and don't get paid. Deal with it.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

Yes I heard King on Finebaum. Even Finebaum acted surprised at such negative commentaries on UT football. I think Finebaum said: Wow. He seemed to be taken back by such negative views. King did an afternoon talk show here in Nashville for years. For some reason, King and Joe Biddle were let go. I used to laugh and tell my Brother that it was pretty sad when Joe Biddle ( A Florida grad) had nicer things to say about us than what King often commented on. I do not want a homer always telling us everything is good when it is not, but I can not take this "It will be cold day down below before UT ever beats Bama and Florida on a consistent basis either". I will try and tune in at some point Wednesday in his Rivals radio show so I can get an idea of who UT signed or didn't sign or whatever the case might be.

He lost a lot of credit with me yesterday. I'll listen to Chris Childers once King goes off because he has more of an objective view, but King seems to have a personal vendetta against UT.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

I never took King for a Vol basher. His latest comment is really out of left field. He used to be my favorite radio host. Being co-host with Joe Biddle on anything will quickly kill your career. He was especially entertaining when he would get on rants about firing Randy Sanders.

Maybe Vol Basher is a bit strong, but if You listen to his negative commentaries on the future of UT Vol recruiting, the future of UT Vol football, You can not help from coming away with this negative feeling about where King is coming from. First off, the Vols won lost record is painfully mediocre. No question. The recruiting base in Tennessee, despite being the 3rd most populated state in the SEC behind Florida and Georgia is concerning.Past UT coaches such Fulmer, Majors, Dickey and so on and have always recruited well outside of the area. Despite those recruiting limitations, UT has more than held their own with Bama (except the seventies). I agreed with King's views on the Sanders thing at the time. My thinking was Randy Sanders was not ready for that job at that time. What I did not like were the fat Phil jokes from callers from Rival SEC schools and UT sucks calls that King's show generated on his show at that time. Anyway, Vol basher might be a bit strong, but His commentaries on UT Vol recruiting and football are tough to listen to though!

GerryOP writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

He lost a lot of credit with me yesterday. I'll listen to Chris Childers once King goes off because he has more of an objective view, but King seems to have a personal vendetta against UT.

I got the impression King is a Fulmer guy. Or maybe he just doesn't like Dooley as our coach. He opened with something like "This is not Phil Fulmer's Tennessee" and followed that with "If Fulmer wanted a kid he would just go out and get him. Derek Dooley can't do this."

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to GerryOP:

I got the impression King is a Fulmer guy. Or maybe he just doesn't like Dooley as our coach. He opened with something like "This is not Phil Fulmer's Tennessee" and followed that with "If Fulmer wanted a kid he would just go out and get him. Derek Dooley can't do this."

The personal vendetta remark seems to be spot on in this Bill King commentaries thing. Maybe King has some kind of problem with someone or some People in the UT chain. King has always been enamored with Urban Myer (He calls Him "The Pontiff"). I'm not sure who coined that for Myer, but King uses it quite allot! King gave a platform to that all purpose bigmouth, Small Mike or Cosby Kid). I know Small Mike has many fans in the Volnation. Small Mike hated Fulmer and was a Lane Kiffen Guy through and through. LOL Oh well.

cloudodust writes:

John Adams provides his email address and phone number at the end of his column. Instead of being a coward behind a blogging tag, man up and go one on one with him...

OwensboroVol writes:

The negative comments from the fans are what the potential recruits read and react to. If you have a problem with Adams, write him an Email, don't broadcast it here. As far as recruiting goes, I'm afraid we may be back to Bill Battle who signed the "Character" Kids. He never won an SEC Championship after Dickey's recruit graduated. Maybe that's why many of Fulmer's recruits were getting into trouble, they were 4-5 stars and trouble. However, they won big!! Remember that T-Martin came from a troubled background and never caused one minute of trouble so sometimes your just throwing the dice with the really high rated players.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RickyHite:

steven pearl may very well be the worst d1 college player of all time . Surely no one is trying to oppose that huh??

Even if he is the "worst d1 college of all time", he is still good enough to be a big help to the Vols. If you look at all the basketball threads, you will find quite a few who "oppose that".

johnlg00 writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

The negative comments from the fans are what the potential recruits read and react to. If you have a problem with Adams, write him an Email, don't broadcast it here. As far as recruiting goes, I'm afraid we may be back to Bill Battle who signed the "Character" Kids. He never won an SEC Championship after Dickey's recruit graduated. Maybe that's why many of Fulmer's recruits were getting into trouble, they were 4-5 stars and trouble. However, they won big!! Remember that T-Martin came from a troubled background and never caused one minute of trouble so sometimes your just throwing the dice with the really high rated players.

Considering that sheer numbers are as big of a problem for the Vols as lack of top-drawer talent, we may have to go with lower-rated "character" guys until we get back to our full complement of scholarship players. If the definition of "character" includes "able to stay eligible and out of jail", some of those guys will blossom into useful players. Just being able to substitute fresh guys will make a noticeable difference right away. If the team gets back to, say, eight wins next year, that could be enough to show the "multi-star" guys that the program is headed back in the right direction.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Even if he is the "worst d1 college of all time", he is still good enough to be a big help to the Vols. If you look at all the basketball threads, you will find quite a few who "oppose that".

Meant to say "college PLAYER", of course. My bad. Needed to get the quote right.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

The negative comments from the fans are what the potential recruits read and react to. If you have a problem with Adams, write him an Email, don't broadcast it here. As far as recruiting goes, I'm afraid we may be back to Bill Battle who signed the "Character" Kids. He never won an SEC Championship after Dickey's recruit graduated. Maybe that's why many of Fulmer's recruits were getting into trouble, they were 4-5 stars and trouble. However, they won big!! Remember that T-Martin came from a troubled background and never caused one minute of trouble so sometimes your just throwing the dice with the really high rated players.

I'm confused. Why would a recruit be bothered by our frustration with a non-university related sports writer and our desire to hear more them?

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

Correction:...and our desire to hear more about them.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volballrocks:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, who WOULDN'T want both? All I'm saying is that 1) we need NUMBERS almost as much as we need TALENT right now, and 2) if we HAVE to settle for less-talented guys, let's at least make sure the ones we get have the necessary qualities to stay in school and off the police blotters and the potential to develop as players. I'm generally satisfied with the way recruiting is unfolding under Dooley and staff, but it may be the 2012 season before the Vols can be considered championship contenders.

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

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

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

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