John Adams: UT recruits deserve higher grade in August than February

John Adams
University of Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner addresses members of the media at Neyland Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012. Fall practice for the Vols begins Friday and the team opens the season Aug. 31 against North Carolina State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS

University of Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner addresses members of the media at Neyland Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012. Fall practice for the Vols begins Friday and the team opens the season Aug. 31 against North Carolina State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)

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The best time for evaluating a recruiting class is three or four years after the fact. But if you can't wait that long, August is preferable to February.

No matter where recruiting services ranked UT's 2012 class on signing day, the number should be better now as preseason camp opens.

No recruit failed to qualify academically. None suffered a severe injury in a postseason all-star game. None has been imprisoned.

And that's not just happenstance. Minimizing risks has been a point of emphasis in recruiting for third-year coach Derek Dooley.

"We did the same thing last year," he said at Thursday's media conference. "We've had two full recruiting classes where we got everyone in."

But this class is distinguished from Dooley's first two in that there's less desperation surrounding it.

UT needed immediate help in 2010 when Dooley and his staff made a closing rush to finish what outgoing coach Lane Kiffin started. While Dooley had a full year to assemble his next class, the needs weren't drastically different. The roster had too many holes. Virtually every position qualified as a position of need.

The roster is no longer depleted. The depth chart reflects more experience and stability.

"This is what we hope is the norm," Dooley said. "Last year, (freshmen) had to play whether they were ready or not. We put some guys in that shouldn't have been playing.

"The rule of thumb is eight to 10 (freshmen), integrating them in, with one or two guys making a difference."

Talent can change the rule, though. Just because UT has a more SEC-like depth chart doesn't mean a new recruit can't crack it.

For example, seven returning offensive linemen have started at least five games. Yet, sophomore Antonio Richardson, who played sparingly in 2011, won a starting position in the spring.

The possibility of a talented recruit overtaking more experienced players could make for an interesting sidebar to preseason camp. The interest is heightened by the presence of three junior college transfers — wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and defensive linemen Daniel McCullers and Darrington Sentimore.

Dooley complimented McCullers for his low body fat, a relevant issue in that he's listed in the media guide at 6-foot-6, 377 pounds. Weight also is a factor for Sentimore, who looked more streamlined as a freshman at Alabama than he did this spring as a Vol. Heavy or not, he's listed as a co-starter with Steven Fowlkes.

Defensive line is a position of need. So is wide receiver, even though Da'Rick Rogers was first-team All-SEC last season and Justin Hunter looked even better before a knee injury in the third game knocked him out for the season.

"We've only got three guys (including wide receiver Zach Rogers) with experience," Dooley said. "It was an important year to sign wideouts."

Those wideouts are the main attraction of the class. Heralded when signed, they have further impressed their teammates during voluntary summer workouts. Hunter cites their potential when referring to UT's receiving corps as "the best in the country."

That's assuming there is no high-profile attrition, which came to mind when Dooley was asked about a rumor that Da'Rick Rogers had been suspended for the first game.

"No, he has not been suspended," Dooley said.

Speculation about Rogers' status has been ongoing since the end of last season. But the rumor isn't as scary for UT since it signed the last recruiting class.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 30

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Come on, folks. Let's see who can be the first to find something negative about this article. I can't.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Come on, folks. Let's see who can be the first to find something negative about this article. I can't.

You're not alone 85. We are on our way.
Vols 35 NCS 14

Timbo_Slice writes:

It's time for these first two classes to start seeing the pay off for all their hard work and dedication! All the struggles on the field over the past two years is going to make that "W" over NCS, Aug. 31, in the GA Dome that much sweeter!
Go Vols!!!

AtopTheHill06 writes:

Tennessee opens as a 3 pt. favorite against ncst. But I guess that news would be too positive for KNS.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

I'm expecting a big win over the Wolfpack. Tennessee Football will be back this year. The opposing teams better have both straps attached on their helment.

Go Big Orange!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Come on, folks. Let's see who can be the first to find something negative about this article. I can't.

The only thing I can say negative about this article is: It should have come out sooner..GBO!!

volfanlostnbama writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

The only thing I can say negative about this article is: It should have come out sooner..GBO!!

Not really anything negative about the article...but the presser where CDD was asked about the rumor on Rodgers being suspended...the look on his face matched with his words said it all. He was disturbed that the reporter even brought it up, like they were dragging something up trying to create drama. Someone said it was Heather Harrington of the sports animal that brought it up...IF, that was the case I think I would have created some news by turning that question around IF it was her by asking, "I heard a rumor that your employer was suspending you for your behavior that resulted in DWI or DUI. Would that be true?" These reporters are as bad as all the trolls on here, just trying to create drama where there is no drama to generate business or sales in the talking heads world or in newsprint that is dying. Pure insanity is what it leads to!

CoverOrange writes:

I would love to see Tiny line up at fullback on the goal line once or twice.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to AtopTheHill06:

Tennessee opens as a 3 pt. favorite against ncst. But I guess that news would be too positive for KNS.

In recent years we are not used to being a favorite except against the annual creampuffs, but a 3 point favorite here is not very comforting since it indicates the kicking game could be a deciding factor. With all the speculation about the progress made since the disasterous last game, we may not have to depend too much on our kickers to win this crucial 1st contest. Then again, it is a double whammy for us - the acc in the gdome.

Win this one and the exorcism will have begun!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I would love to see Tiny line up at fullback on the goal line once or twice.

Yes he'd make The Frig look like a small cooler.
35-14 vols

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I would love to see Tiny line up at fullback on the goal line once or twice.

I would like to see McCullers utilized in that capacity..I remember one of our big O-linemen running a tackle around against MSU a while back..I think that was Daffney when he he was a Freshman or Sophomore..GBO!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

Not really anything negative about the article...but the presser where CDD was asked about the rumor on Rodgers being suspended...the look on his face matched with his words said it all. He was disturbed that the reporter even brought it up, like they were dragging something up trying to create drama. Someone said it was Heather Harrington of the sports animal that brought it up...IF, that was the case I think I would have created some news by turning that question around IF it was her by asking, "I heard a rumor that your employer was suspending you for your behavior that resulted in DWI or DUI. Would that be true?" These reporters are as bad as all the trolls on here, just trying to create drama where there is no drama to generate business or sales in the talking heads world or in newsprint that is dying. Pure insanity is what it leads to!

You are so correct about that..I was listening to the sports reporters a few weeks ago and while Jeremy Schapp was ranting it dawned on me..This clown is only using the media as an opportunity to air his personal thoughts. I think many of the sports information we receive comes with an unwanted opinion attached to it..Where can we go and get truly unbiased sports reporting?

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

in response to AtopTheHill06:

Tennessee opens as a 3 pt. favorite against ncst. But I guess that news would be too positive for KNS.

And you're happy about that? 3 points, against NC State?? That's pathetic.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I recall a UT program who would have opened as a 17-point favorite against a medicore team from an inferior conference.

Instead, we now see bozo's calling a 3-point spread against NCS as "positive."

Shaking my head.

MidTennVol writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

Not really anything negative about the article...but the presser where CDD was asked about the rumor on Rodgers being suspended...the look on his face matched with his words said it all. He was disturbed that the reporter even brought it up, like they were dragging something up trying to create drama. Someone said it was Heather Harrington of the sports animal that brought it up...IF, that was the case I think I would have created some news by turning that question around IF it was her by asking, "I heard a rumor that your employer was suspending you for your behavior that resulted in DWI or DUI. Would that be true?" These reporters are as bad as all the trolls on here, just trying to create drama where there is no drama to generate business or sales in the talking heads world or in newsprint that is dying. Pure insanity is what it leads to!

You noticed that too, huh? Adams had no reason to repeat that baseless rumor in this piece. "I don't know what you're talking about" is what Dooley also said to the female reporter who actually said it was a "rumor" when she asked him about it.

Shame that Adams felt the rumor was worth repeating. Is sports reporting that difficult?

BTW, I heard a rumor the other day that...[fill in the blank and repeat ad nauseum]

agentorange writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you're happy about that? 3 points, against NC State?? That's pathetic.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I recall a UT program who would have opened as a 17-point favorite against a medicore team from an inferior conference.

Instead, we now see bozo's calling a 3-point spread against NCS as "positive."

Shaking my head.

And then the mighty Vol team favored by 17 would have won by 7 and screwed everyone who bet on it. Just take your "recall" and sit quietly under the bridge, please. The rest of us will enjoy the build-up to the season.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you're happy about that? 3 points, against NC State?? That's pathetic.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I recall a UT program who would have opened as a 17-point favorite against a medicore team from an inferior conference.

Instead, we now see bozo's calling a 3-point spread against NCS as "positive."

Shaking my head.

I'm only happy if you're this upset..Thanks for making my day..GBO!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you're happy about that? 3 points, against NC State?? That's pathetic.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I recall a UT program who would have opened as a 17-point favorite against a medicore team from an inferior conference.

Instead, we now see bozo's calling a 3-point spread against NCS as "positive."

Shaking my head.

Problem is DC boy you didn't spend a second scouting NC state..Mediocre and inferior they are NOT!!!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I would like to see McCullers utilized in that capacity..I remember one of our big O-linemen running a tackle around against MSU a while back..I think that was Daffney when he he was a Freshman or Sophomore..GBO!

I b'member dat. Wasn't too long afterwards that the NCAA made it illegal.

Haven't seen McC in action yet. Do remember one of Tiny's first plays last year he lined up at tackle on a PAT or FG or something and flattened his opponent. Figured a running start would scare some MLB out of his socks.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you're happy about that? 3 points, against NC State?? That's pathetic.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I recall a UT program who would have opened as a 17-point favorite against a medicore team from an inferior conference.

Instead, we now see bozo's calling a 3-point spread against NCS as "positive."

Shaking my head.

I guess we should schedule our opener against some toilet-scrubber like Bowling Green so we could be 30-point favorites too, huh? Can that Gator offense even score 30 points in one game?

Of course, don't pay attention to NC State's preseason predictions. How they're just outside the top-20 looking in -- you know, just like the Gators will be after they lose in Knoxville.

I wonder what the line will be on that Florida-Texas A&M game?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Problem is DC boy you didn't spend a second scouting NC state..Mediocre and inferior they are NOT!!!

Why would he? He's a Gator troll. He wouldn't notice that NC State is Athlon's #28 pre-season or Coaches' 35. Not top-10, but certainly not mediocre or inferior. All things considered, they should probably be favored, based on previous year and UT's struggles in the Ga Dome.

TheVolSnake writes:

You know Walt and others wont want to read or comment on this article.

This was a good article and it flowed.

Go get them Vol's

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I b'member dat. Wasn't too long afterwards that the NCAA made it illegal.

Haven't seen McC in action yet. Do remember one of Tiny's first plays last year he lined up at tackle on a PAT or FG or something and flattened his opponent. Figured a running start would scare some MLB out of his socks.

Yeah, Tiny is a freakin' beast and represents UT with class..GBO!

volfreak#210492 writes:

Is McCullers' weight a typo? 377lbs???

volhitman writes:

in response to AtopTheHill06:

Tennessee opens as a 3 pt. favorite against ncst. But I guess that news would be too positive for KNS.

I may be mistaken but I think It's now 7.

volnvette03 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

And you're happy about that? 3 points, against NC State?? That's pathetic.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I recall a UT program who would have opened as a 17-point favorite against a medicore team from an inferior conference.

Instead, we now see bozo's calling a 3-point spread against NCS as "positive."

Shaking my head.

And, what do you think Vegas should make it Delta the Greek? Here in Raleigh, NCST is very focused and fired up about playing us. They are confident, so, I do believe it will NOT be a cake walk just because its the ACC. If we do win big, it's a tribute to the hard work for the last year Dooley and the Vols have demonstrated.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Why would he? He's a Gator troll. He wouldn't notice that NC State is Athlon's #28 pre-season or Coaches' 35. Not top-10, but certainly not mediocre or inferior. All things considered, they should probably be favored, based on previous year and UT's struggles in the Ga Dome.

Exactly! But why would the spinmeisters from florida admit that? They are getting there little jabs in while they can. More than likely, dc and zz are Tennessee kids that started the gata colors for sttention in HS. Now, still attention starved and out of HS, they need somewhere to wisecrack on UT football. Pathetic, small people.

UT will easily cover this spread. SOME will start to realize what Dooley's accomplished thus far with a short amount of time he's had. It'll just build from there and the debacle of the past 5 years will fade with the POSERS on this site.

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Come on, folks. Let's see who can be the first to find something negative about this article. I can't.

I don't know why so many whine over every JA article. He just tells the truth. Someone please cut and paste something he's ever said that wasn't true?

GONAVY writes:

in response to AtopTheHill06:

Tennessee opens as a 3 pt. favorite against ncst. But I guess that news would be too positive for KNS.

Just 3 weeks ago UT was a 6.5 pick...unless I read it wrong?.. but don't think so. Not sure what makes a line move other than where the money is being placed.

GONAVY writes:

in response to volhitman:

I may be mistaken but I think It's now 7.

ok, that's what I saw 3 weeks back...

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volnvette03:

And, what do you think Vegas should make it Delta the Greek? Here in Raleigh, NCST is very focused and fired up about playing us. They are confident, so, I do believe it will NOT be a cake walk just because its the ACC. If we do win big, it's a tribute to the hard work for the last year Dooley and the Vols have demonstrated.

That is my impression also from Greensboro. Any team would be foolish to underestimate NCSU on a neutral field. This game cannot be overestimated in showing what the rest of the Vols' season will look like. If the Vols win convincingly with no major injuries, this could be a marvelous season. If not, then I just don't see much future for Dooley at UT. You all know I am not a Dooley hater, and I am not sure three years OUGHT to be enough to turn a program around, but I do think the impatience that sometimes plagues the fan bases of most successful or aspiring programs will be too much for him to survive if he doesn't win pretty big, whatever that means.

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