Recruiting job one for Tennessee coaches

Falling behind not an option for new assistants

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee cornerbacks coach Tommy Thigpen talks with the media at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex on Thursday.

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee cornerbacks coach Tommy Thigpen talks with the media at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex on Thursday.

New Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen has spent most of his career crisscrossing the South in search of prospects, and for the last four years at Auburn he's engaged in head-to-head recruiting battles for some of the country's most coveted players.

Thigpen, one of only two assistants who had never worked with new head coach Butch Jones before joining his staff earlier this month, has a deep, rich and authentically Southern drawl.

He also has plenty of hard-won insights about working the recruiting trails in the SEC to offer his new colleagues.

"I tell them, 'It's as different as any place you're going to be,' " said Thigpen, who has joked with other UT coaches about the "boogeyman" haunting Southern recruiting trails. "But coaching is coaching. It's the same everywhere: You've got to get players. They understand that. Butch understands that."

Recruiting has been job one for Jones' new staff members since they first began arriving in Knoxville only days after he was hired. It's why only one coach from Jones' staff stayed behind in Cincinnati to prepare the Bearcats for their Dec. 27 bowl game and why evaluating current players has taken a back seat to recruiting new ones.

"Our first focus was not falling behind in recruiting," Thigpen said. "I'm taking all the tapes (of current players) back home with me to watch over Christmas."

The pressures of recruiting have eased a bit this week during the NCAA dead period, which bars coaches from visiting prospects. Jones used the opportunity to do a media tour with interviews and radio appearances earlier this week. On Thursday, it was his assistants' turn to meet the press.

Most of the staff has worked with Jones before and five coaches, including both coordinators, came directly from Cincinnati.

"Continuity is huge in a coaching staff," said defensive coordinator John Jancek. "We're familiar with each, we know the day-to-day operations and that comfort level extends to the players."

Jancek said he would be a "walk-around coordinator," meaning that instead of coaching one specific position, he would bounce around from unit to unit during practice. Thigpen, who was originally announced as cornerbacks coach, moved into the linebacker slot. Willie Martinez, originally the safeties coach, will now handle the entire secondary.

Jancek said he planned to return Tennessee to a 4-3 set, meaning four linemen and three linebackers, ending a failed one-year experiment with the 3-4 under former coordinator Sal Sunseri.

On offense, coordinator Mike Bajakian said the Vols would run a fast-paced offense, as they did in 2012, but other decisions would be made by adapting to the strength of the team's personnel.

"We're not going to try to be something we're not," Bajakian said. "If our strength is throwing the ball, we'll do that. If it's running it, we'll do that."

Offensive line coach Don Mahoney, inheriting a veteran group, said his goal was not to "create confusion" unnecessarily and that he would even tweak some of this things he does if it helps his linemen succeed.

"Coach Jones always says, 'We never want our minds to tie up our feet.' We certainly don't want to do that up front," Mahoney said.

Mahoney, who first coached with Jones in 1998, has worked on his staff for the last six years and came with him from Cincinnati earlier this month.

Of the new assistants who weren't on the UC staff, running backs coach Jay Graham was retained from Derek Dooley's staff at UT, and Thigpen and Martinez joined from Auburn.

Martinez and receivers coach Nick Azzanni, snowbound in Wisconsin on Thursday as he helps the Badgers prepare for the Rose Bowl, worked with Jones at Central Michigan.

Graham said his hiring by Jones helped calm some apprehensive nerves after spending much of November in limbo after Dooley was fired. Martinez said he's been welcomed to the mix and doesn't feel like a newcomer left out of the club.

"We're all coaches," Thigpen said. "We've all got the same passion."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 47

AllVol1 writes:

Sounds like a good group. We'll see.

VFLVFLVFL writes:

good group of guys. This isnt as big of names as we all wanted. but these guys are extremely genuine people.. good guys.. and obviously have created a family with each other as well as at programs they have been at.. if that translates to winning, then it could be huge.. time will tell.. you gotta love these guys personalities

nocleats writes:

Recruit Recruit Recruit!

SummittsCourt writes:

The more I hear from these coaches the more I like. I believe they will get the job done. Go Vols!

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

Great article Evan. It's apparent to me that you are nothing like John Adams and for people who TRULY love Tennessee sports, that's a good thing !!!

BolivrBob writes:

This is a great staff. Jancik's defense lead the nation in tackles for loss and 2nd in sacks. Bajakian is a terrific offensive coordinator. We are very fortunate to have Thigpen and Martinez. They are two of the best recruiters going. And Graham ain't bad either. We came out smelling lika a rose and I'm excited about next season. We'll have a better season with a tougher schedule.

LCPanthers (Inactive) writes:

Please recruit some 4 and 5 star players,especially on defensive side.

BrassMonkey writes:

At least 5 years until UT can even finish 2nd in the SEC east.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

Dooley has left this program in worse shape than Kiffin.

We are near Fulmer levels again in terms of talent. Slightly better on the offensive and defensive lines.

Not a single difference maker left on offense or defense. And Dooley has left so much ill will and burned so many bridges in recruiting with his unparalleled arrogance that Jones is especially under the gun. 39nth rated currently according to Rivals.

SouthPaVol writes:

in response to JonGrudensAgent:

Dooley has left this program in worse shape than Kiffin.

We are near Fulmer levels again in terms of talent. Slightly better on the offensive and defensive lines.

Not a single difference maker left on offense or defense. And Dooley has left so much ill will and burned so many bridges in recruiting with his unparalleled arrogance that Jones is especially under the gun. 39nth rated currently according to Rivals.

Our talent level is about the same, and if our team finishes next season ranked 39th, then we will have won 7 or 8 games. Looking at our schedule and a new coaching staff, that's not bad. It's hard to recruit for a team with a losing record; it's hard for a new coaching staff to recruit; the two together make it even more difficult. All, however, is not lost. If we do win 7 or 8 games and end the season ranked 39th, our 2014 recruiting will improve drastically.

My left handed comment: Coach Jones has proven he can win with 3-star players, and put several 3-star players in the NFL. That's coaching; that's what we need.

therightstuff writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

At least 5 years until UT can even finish 2nd in the SEC east.

What's your point? Are you saying this staff can not bring it around or the program itself is that far down or those ahead just that much stronger?
Remember that ANY program can have a downward spiral and face a tough climb back up, ANY program. Florida and South Carolina weren't relevant until Spurrier, Bama has taken their lumps along with Georgia, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas.
Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, USC, etc have had nose dives also and came back.....what exempts Tennessee? I want a top 10, a top 5 program and hoist the trophy, it's just all programs go through times such as the one Tennessee faces now.

whatthe84 writes:

in response to JonGrudensAgent:

Dooley has left this program in worse shape than Kiffin.

We are near Fulmer levels again in terms of talent. Slightly better on the offensive and defensive lines.

Not a single difference maker left on offense or defense. And Dooley has left so much ill will and burned so many bridges in recruiting with his unparalleled arrogance that Jones is especially under the gun. 39nth rated currently according to Rivals.

I agree, Dooley ignored the recruiting part of the job. The classes he signed were subpar for the SEC for sure. He apparently had issues with working with his staff as well. One of the new coaches mentioned continuity as being important on a staff. Dooley's staff was constantly being changed every year. We are seeing how his recruiting style was so lacking, he really never developed any contacts, or relationships with the high school coaches. It is like he was in waaaay over his head. I think he was and I think he is a micro manager to a fault. He was not successful early and I think he began to panick, knowing that success of some sort was expected and he really never had any success at UT. Every chance he had to win a big game he managed to bungle it some way and lose. I agree the program from a player stand point has regressed and the talent level is way down more on the lines of an ACC (Not FSU or Clemson)or Big East level. Our team speed is not very good either. It will take at least 2-3 years of good recruiting to begin to see the progress. Next year a 6-6 record would be wonderful. Only Kentucky is in worse shape than UT at this point. Patience is going to have to be served to the fan base on a steady basis. Good luck CBJ we know the job is large but we don't have any choice but to let you have the time to make a run at it. Our finances are so jacked up with bad hires and fires. We must begin to keep the good recruits in Tennessee. I know the old story of how weak the HS talent in Tennessee is. I guess that is right but our program over the last 3 years with Dooley did not recruit the quality players we had in state. Everybody came in and picked them off. Even Vanderbilt is getting the players UT should have gotten. It began with Marlon Brown (Kiffins first class) and has continued to get worse every year. GBO

jakethevolguy writes:

I don't know what Rivals you guys are looking at but, UT has been 44th for the past couple of days. I guess since Camion Patrick opened his recruiting back up. We are down to 14 commitments right now. I expect CBJ to get several more by signing day and we will probably end up ranked in the mid twenties. JMO

Ironcity writes:

in response to jakethevolguy:

I don't know what Rivals you guys are looking at but, UT has been 44th for the past couple of days. I guess since Camion Patrick opened his recruiting back up. We are down to 14 commitments right now. I expect CBJ to get several more by signing day and we will probably end up ranked in the mid twenties. JMO

If you look at average star ranking we are jsut outside the top 10, The reason we are low is because we let 5 guys go. None of those guys were significant loses and will be easily replaced. Once UT adds players we will move right back up into the teens. That said these coaches know its about the Jimmy's and the Joe's not so much the X's and the O's. We have to upgrade the talent here and from listening to these guys they realize that first and foremost without talent, you are not going to compete in the SEC.

Shake_Bake writes:

Like it or not all of this is going to take some time. Good recruiting fixes a lot of problems. So does good coaching! All of us fans will need some patience, they can't fix everything in one season. We need to be realistic and lower our expectations for next season, especially with that very tough schedule.

vorangel writes:

in response to Ironcity:

If you look at average star ranking we are jsut outside the top 10, The reason we are low is because we let 5 guys go. None of those guys were significant loses and will be easily replaced. Once UT adds players we will move right back up into the teens. That said these coaches know its about the Jimmy's and the Joe's not so much the X's and the O's. We have to upgrade the talent here and from listening to these guys they realize that first and foremost without talent, you are not going to compete in the SEC.

Wishful, but not likely.
Recruiting moves at a different speed now than it did when Fulmer was here. Tennessee doesn't have enough of the relationships it needs to grab the higher quality seniors at this point.
It's going to get worse before it gets better.
We are likely to lose Skipper (waiting on Stanford to admit him) and Carr will likely go elsewhere. Bradley would have signed Wednesday if he was coming to Knoxville.
We may pick up some Cincinnati targets, however. But not the Alabama-Florida-Georgia-LSU-South Carolina type of recruit.
This is reality.

6972 writes:

I am hoping for some star recruits as all of you are. There is one quality that I hope that we get in ALL our recruits: HEART! At times this year (IMO) it looked like at least some of the team didn't play with any heart.
The Ky nightmare a year ago resonates in my mind as a heartless game. Get the talent but recruit some HEART!

bigtangerine writes:

in response to vorangel:

Wishful, but not likely.
Recruiting moves at a different speed now than it did when Fulmer was here. Tennessee doesn't have enough of the relationships it needs to grab the higher quality seniors at this point.
It's going to get worse before it gets better.
We are likely to lose Skipper (waiting on Stanford to admit him) and Carr will likely go elsewhere. Bradley would have signed Wednesday if he was coming to Knoxville.
We may pick up some Cincinnati targets, however. But not the Alabama-Florida-Georgia-LSU-South Carolina type of recruit.
This is reality.

I agree. This is a critical class along the offensive and defensive lines as well as at linebacker, and Dooley had already set it up to fail. How these guys can come in and salvage a decent class remains to be seen.
Dooley signed no OLs last year, a huge mistake. He took commits from three or four linebackers, since off our list, who were questionable as far as SEC talent and probably picked for the 3-4 defense.
Next year, the OL and DL will be solid, but with five sure losses on the schedule, a bowl will be a pretty good goal.
After next year? Yikes!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Dooley's 2013 class is far from spectacular and we are losing guys left and right..Jones has his work cut out for him..We may still steal some players from other teams that loved the Vols early on that Dooley stupidly let slip thru his fingers..Look for Jones to pick up some good under the radar guys who are raw but have speed and upside...I'll be happy if by some miracle we sway Green away from Michigan..Problem is with 2 back to back awful losing seasons and a new staff; players are drawn to schools who are winning and league contenders..Go to a rebuilding UT or go to a proven winner?? Problem is while we scratch and claw to pickup 3 star players and fight to keep pace with the likes of Vandy and Ole Miss .. Ga;Bama and FLA have top recruits waiting in line to sign up..There is a reason the Gators Secondary was one of the best in the country. They were all top#15 at their position unlike half of Dooleys recruits like RB's that were rated #65 at that position..In a way we are starting from scratch in recruiting and the process will be long and hard..Having the best fans and facilities in the country should help

Tennfan4075 writes:

My concern is, why does Auburn have a new head coach and staff if these guys are so great at recruiting? Last year the Vols may have been better than Auburn with better players. I am not trying to be the devil's advocate, but these two coaches along with the group from Cincy seemed to create many question marks.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to vorangel:

Wishful, but not likely.
Recruiting moves at a different speed now than it did when Fulmer was here. Tennessee doesn't have enough of the relationships it needs to grab the higher quality seniors at this point.
It's going to get worse before it gets better.
We are likely to lose Skipper (waiting on Stanford to admit him) and Carr will likely go elsewhere. Bradley would have signed Wednesday if he was coming to Knoxville.
We may pick up some Cincinnati targets, however. But not the Alabama-Florida-Georgia-LSU-South Carolina type of recruit.
This is reality.

This is basically true but Dooley was faced with a similar situation(not exactly of course) and he was not only able to keep most intact but actually added a couple of big recruits....No one really knows what will happen but the obvious expectation is what u outlined...hopefully CBJ had enough relationships built up before taking the job he may be able to get in some decent talent...

mj2454#655272 writes:

in response to Tennfan4075:

My concern is, why does Auburn have a new head coach and staff if these guys are so great at recruiting? Last year the Vols may have been better than Auburn with better players. I am not trying to be the devil's advocate, but these two coaches along with the group from Cincy seemed to create many question marks.

Maybe some Auburn coaches werent developing their talent, or maybe the AD was too impatient, firing a coach who had won a national title just two years earlier. Rivals had Auburn's recruiting classes ranked 7th and 10th nationally in 2011 and 2012, so their recruiting must have been pretty good, certainly better than ours was.As far as teir coaching abilities go, the past performances of their defenses leave some questions.

Prostar writes:

Auburn changed offensive styles after Newton left and then Malzahn went to Ark. State. They changed from a spread-type offense to a pro-style and their personnel didn't fit. Much as we changed defense to a 3/4. As for Camion Patrick, he's going to go the JUCO route (grades). Everybody just needs to chill out, Martinez and Thigpen are in on guys they originally were recruiting for Auburn and Azzanni is on guys he had contacted for Wisc. I'd really like to see Jones and staff able to make inroads at Cincinnati's Moeller High School. A huge all-male high school that sends tons of talent to Ohio State and Michigan regularly. Additionally, I wish the KNS staff would at least get the coaches names right, our wide receivers coach is ZACH not Nick.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to jakethevolguy:

I don't know what Rivals you guys are looking at but, UT has been 44th for the past couple of days. I guess since Camion Patrick opened his recruiting back up. We are down to 14 commitments right now. I expect CBJ to get several more by signing day and we will probably end up ranked in the mid twenties. JMO

I hadn't checked rivals in a couple of days. Thanks for putting me in a more festive mood hahaha.

I agree on Jones, he can get this class into the mid 20's but we are another year behind the Florida's and Alabama's of the world.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

This Recruiting staff appears to have a deep sense of urgency where the last Staff didn't.

jawga writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

This Recruiting staff appears to have a deep sense of urgency where the last Staff didn't.

They better with the loss of Zac Barnes & current #40 on Rivals...that's Big East territory.

pcshowtime writes:

Anyone still thinks the last coach here before coach jones did not wreck this program is nuts. I will not even say his name anymore. Coach D or any of former staff did not recruit at all this last year. They phoned it in half way through the year. He should have been fired after the South Car. loss. We would have been way better off chaney as interim. At least Kiffen left some recruits.

OrangeAppeal writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

At least 5 years until UT can even finish 2nd in the SEC east.

I love your name as if fits your personality perfectly if you leave off the "Br" in the front. I'm sure that was your intention, but your first choice in names wasn't allowed so you just had to go with the closest thing.

golfman1975 writes:

I have heard different places that Malik Foreman is being recruited...currently committed to Underbilt. This guy is fast..projected to play CB but he can be utilized as a punt and kick returner. Has 4.4 speed. He is unbelievable in the way he sets up his blocks. Did well in the east west all star game. Devon Swafford is also on the same team and would be projected as a CB. This same team produced the Sensabaughs playing on Sundays as CB, one for the Cowboys and the other for the Titans...neither recruited by UT.

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to mj2454#655272:

Maybe some Auburn coaches werent developing their talent, or maybe the AD was too impatient, firing a coach who had won a national title just two years earlier. Rivals had Auburn's recruiting classes ranked 7th and 10th nationally in 2011 and 2012, so their recruiting must have been pretty good, certainly better than ours was.As far as teir coaching abilities go, the past performances of their defenses leave some questions.

It does sound similar to a guy at Tennessee who had recently been in the SEC Championship Game and while not as high as the Auburn ranking in recruiting, still not bad, and the AD fired him.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to jawga:

They better with the loss of Zac Barnes & current #40 on Rivals...that's Big East territory.

Been out of town, didn't know Barnes switched.

nocleats writes:

Wonder If Cheek and company are going to allow Tennessee's coaches to recruit the same players that Bama,Miss St, LSU, UGA, Clemson, and Auburn are approaching. Unless he "addresses" the issues that 3 straight coaches and 2 Atheletic Directors have asked for, whats the point? Cheek has got to change!

tturley#297658 writes:

DooLittle not recruiting ONE single offensive lineman last year is criminal negligence. How the h#ll can a team build depth that way? UT needs a big-time RB this year, and I think Graham will upgrade this position. WR and DB are also huge needs this year. Go bUTch, get it done!

wayne.kearney#1414428 writes:

Lets just hope Coach Jones has one hell of a plan. If he doesnt then lady and gentlemen it is going to be a long season once again. But we all do need to give him a fair chance. His first year is going to be mainly with all that Dooley has brought in to Knoxville.

CroKev writes:

Give me a break. To say Jones inherited the same talent as Dooley is a crock. Dooley inherited 60-something scholarship players and an offensive line with NO EXPERIENCE. His starting QB? Simms. Undersized walk-on Reveiz was the "Star" of the Defense. How soon we forget what Dooley hired and how he actually had a great recruiting effort landing Hunter, Rogers, et al. For a losing program, he actually did a pretty good job recruiting, landing between 10th & 15th pretty consistently. He also recruited the positions most needed for the program. Unfortunately, he inherited "head-case" Bryce Brown and had some LB prospects bail at the last moment.

As you'll recall, everybody was excited about the talent on the field for 2012. It was just like that the year before until we lost our best defensive player in Janzen Jackson and our offensive dynamite in Hunter & Bray due to injuries.

This year we lost Da'Rick at the beginning of the season and that was a killer. On a different note, probably the biggest recruiting let-downs over the last oouple of years had to be Darr & Palardy - how many games could they have changed for us?

Finally, with the exception of Bama, UT was right in it in the 4th quarter with several top 10 teams in 2012. If just half of them had gone UT's way, Dooley & staff would still be here.

It's a shame that most of these young men (half are teenagers) didn't step up at crucial times for their coaches and the Vol nation. Dooley has to accept the blame as well for the debacle in the 2nd half of the Mizzou game and whatever that was in Nashville against Vandy.

All that to say that the majority of you have really short memories. Everybody is ticked off with Dooley in the Chattanooga HS area because UT's staff wasn't camped out there. Legitimate beef. But UT has to recruit nationally and when you look at the top 150 Rivals recruits, UT was in the mix with a ton of them. I simply can't fault Dooley, et al. on that front.

Finally, I'm all in for Jones and his staff. He's inherited a darn good team, especially on the OL, the DL, LB's, and some decent RB's. They need help with ST's, DB's, and with breaking in a new QB - a far cry above what Dooley inherited. Dooley leaves his successor with a good squad and no NCAA problems, a much different situation than what he inherited.

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to CroKev:

Give me a break. To say Jones inherited the same talent as Dooley is a crock. Dooley inherited 60-something scholarship players and an offensive line with NO EXPERIENCE. His starting QB? Simms. Undersized walk-on Reveiz was the "Star" of the Defense. How soon we forget what Dooley hired and how he actually had a great recruiting effort landing Hunter, Rogers, et al. For a losing program, he actually did a pretty good job recruiting, landing between 10th & 15th pretty consistently. He also recruited the positions most needed for the program. Unfortunately, he inherited "head-case" Bryce Brown and had some LB prospects bail at the last moment.

As you'll recall, everybody was excited about the talent on the field for 2012. It was just like that the year before until we lost our best defensive player in Janzen Jackson and our offensive dynamite in Hunter & Bray due to injuries.

This year we lost Da'Rick at the beginning of the season and that was a killer. On a different note, probably the biggest recruiting let-downs over the last oouple of years had to be Darr & Palardy - how many games could they have changed for us?

Finally, with the exception of Bama, UT was right in it in the 4th quarter with several top 10 teams in 2012. If just half of them had gone UT's way, Dooley & staff would still be here.

It's a shame that most of these young men (half are teenagers) didn't step up at crucial times for their coaches and the Vol nation. Dooley has to accept the blame as well for the debacle in the 2nd half of the Mizzou game and whatever that was in Nashville against Vandy.

All that to say that the majority of you have really short memories. Everybody is ticked off with Dooley in the Chattanooga HS area because UT's staff wasn't camped out there. Legitimate beef. But UT has to recruit nationally and when you look at the top 150 Rivals recruits, UT was in the mix with a ton of them. I simply can't fault Dooley, et al. on that front.

Finally, I'm all in for Jones and his staff. He's inherited a darn good team, especially on the OL, the DL, LB's, and some decent RB's. They need help with ST's, DB's, and with breaking in a new QB - a far cry above what Dooley inherited. Dooley leaves his successor with a good squad and no NCAA problems, a much different situation than what he inherited.

Are you DD's mother or his agent?

Vol_in_Mich writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

Anyone still thinks the last coach here before coach jones did not wreck this program is nuts. I will not even say his name anymore. Coach D or any of former staff did not recruit at all this last year. They phoned it in half way through the year. He should have been fired after the South Car. loss. We would have been way better off chaney as interim. At least Kiffen left some recruits.

Yeah, but he was a nice guy. Right? WRONG!!!
It's going to take years to recover from the damage Mr. Nice Guy caused.

Get her done Butch

LibertyVolance writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

At least 5 years until UT can even finish 2nd in the SEC east.

You don't know that. So why even say it? Nobody can predict 5 years out on any team.

I think most of us are excited about the new coaching staff and heading another direction. If there is one thing we DON'T need right now is more discouragement. We have had enough of that in recent years. It's high time to begin thinking positive thoughts, even if you don't entirely believe them. Our die is cast for some time into the future, like it or not. We need to jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the change. We sure weren't going anywhere before now.

volsmith writes:

Got an e-mail from scout.com saying we got a commit which turned out to be a 2 star rated athlete. That is not going to get the job done. We need 4 and 5 star players if we are going to compete. I say do not give scholarships to anybody below 3 stars. Yank the offers to the 2 star players.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to CroKev:

Give me a break. To say Jones inherited the same talent as Dooley is a crock. Dooley inherited 60-something scholarship players and an offensive line with NO EXPERIENCE. His starting QB? Simms. Undersized walk-on Reveiz was the "Star" of the Defense. How soon we forget what Dooley hired and how he actually had a great recruiting effort landing Hunter, Rogers, et al. For a losing program, he actually did a pretty good job recruiting, landing between 10th & 15th pretty consistently. He also recruited the positions most needed for the program. Unfortunately, he inherited "head-case" Bryce Brown and had some LB prospects bail at the last moment.

As you'll recall, everybody was excited about the talent on the field for 2012. It was just like that the year before until we lost our best defensive player in Janzen Jackson and our offensive dynamite in Hunter & Bray due to injuries.

This year we lost Da'Rick at the beginning of the season and that was a killer. On a different note, probably the biggest recruiting let-downs over the last oouple of years had to be Darr & Palardy - how many games could they have changed for us?

Finally, with the exception of Bama, UT was right in it in the 4th quarter with several top 10 teams in 2012. If just half of them had gone UT's way, Dooley & staff would still be here.

It's a shame that most of these young men (half are teenagers) didn't step up at crucial times for their coaches and the Vol nation. Dooley has to accept the blame as well for the debacle in the 2nd half of the Mizzou game and whatever that was in Nashville against Vandy.

All that to say that the majority of you have really short memories. Everybody is ticked off with Dooley in the Chattanooga HS area because UT's staff wasn't camped out there. Legitimate beef. But UT has to recruit nationally and when you look at the top 150 Rivals recruits, UT was in the mix with a ton of them. I simply can't fault Dooley, et al. on that front.

Finally, I'm all in for Jones and his staff. He's inherited a darn good team, especially on the OL, the DL, LB's, and some decent RB's. They need help with ST's, DB's, and with breaking in a new QB - a far cry above what Dooley inherited. Dooley leaves his successor with a good squad and no NCAA problems, a much different situation than what he inherited.

And none of this excuses Dooley from obviously mailing it in THIS year in recruiting.

What he did to this program over the course of the year is right up there with Kiffin leaving in the dark of night.

CroKev writes:

in response to Tennfan4075:

Are you DD's mother or his agent?

So what's incorrect in the post? <LONG PAUSE> That's what I thought...

redskinvol1 writes:

A top ten class will win most fans over.Wins will get the rest.The best staff in America can surely deliver a top ten class this year.GO VOLS AND HTTR!!!

Retiredvol writes:

in response to CroKev:

Give me a break. To say Jones inherited the same talent as Dooley is a crock. Dooley inherited 60-something scholarship players and an offensive line with NO EXPERIENCE. His starting QB? Simms. Undersized walk-on Reveiz was the "Star" of the Defense. How soon we forget what Dooley hired and how he actually had a great recruiting effort landing Hunter, Rogers, et al. For a losing program, he actually did a pretty good job recruiting, landing between 10th & 15th pretty consistently. He also recruited the positions most needed for the program. Unfortunately, he inherited "head-case" Bryce Brown and had some LB prospects bail at the last moment.

As you'll recall, everybody was excited about the talent on the field for 2012. It was just like that the year before until we lost our best defensive player in Janzen Jackson and our offensive dynamite in Hunter & Bray due to injuries.

This year we lost Da'Rick at the beginning of the season and that was a killer. On a different note, probably the biggest recruiting let-downs over the last oouple of years had to be Darr & Palardy - how many games could they have changed for us?

Finally, with the exception of Bama, UT was right in it in the 4th quarter with several top 10 teams in 2012. If just half of them had gone UT's way, Dooley & staff would still be here.

It's a shame that most of these young men (half are teenagers) didn't step up at crucial times for their coaches and the Vol nation. Dooley has to accept the blame as well for the debacle in the 2nd half of the Mizzou game and whatever that was in Nashville against Vandy.

All that to say that the majority of you have really short memories. Everybody is ticked off with Dooley in the Chattanooga HS area because UT's staff wasn't camped out there. Legitimate beef. But UT has to recruit nationally and when you look at the top 150 Rivals recruits, UT was in the mix with a ton of them. I simply can't fault Dooley, et al. on that front.

Finally, I'm all in for Jones and his staff. He's inherited a darn good team, especially on the OL, the DL, LB's, and some decent RB's. They need help with ST's, DB's, and with breaking in a new QB - a far cry above what Dooley inherited. Dooley leaves his successor with a good squad and no NCAA problems, a much different situation than what he inherited.

Good insight

BMSvol writes:

we need to pay our recruits more

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to CroKev:

Give me a break. To say Jones inherited the same talent as Dooley is a crock. Dooley inherited 60-something scholarship players and an offensive line with NO EXPERIENCE. His starting QB? Simms. Undersized walk-on Reveiz was the "Star" of the Defense. How soon we forget what Dooley hired and how he actually had a great recruiting effort landing Hunter, Rogers, et al. For a losing program, he actually did a pretty good job recruiting, landing between 10th & 15th pretty consistently. He also recruited the positions most needed for the program. Unfortunately, he inherited "head-case" Bryce Brown and had some LB prospects bail at the last moment.

As you'll recall, everybody was excited about the talent on the field for 2012. It was just like that the year before until we lost our best defensive player in Janzen Jackson and our offensive dynamite in Hunter & Bray due to injuries.

This year we lost Da'Rick at the beginning of the season and that was a killer. On a different note, probably the biggest recruiting let-downs over the last oouple of years had to be Darr & Palardy - how many games could they have changed for us?

Finally, with the exception of Bama, UT was right in it in the 4th quarter with several top 10 teams in 2012. If just half of them had gone UT's way, Dooley & staff would still be here.

It's a shame that most of these young men (half are teenagers) didn't step up at crucial times for their coaches and the Vol nation. Dooley has to accept the blame as well for the debacle in the 2nd half of the Mizzou game and whatever that was in Nashville against Vandy.

All that to say that the majority of you have really short memories. Everybody is ticked off with Dooley in the Chattanooga HS area because UT's staff wasn't camped out there. Legitimate beef. But UT has to recruit nationally and when you look at the top 150 Rivals recruits, UT was in the mix with a ton of them. I simply can't fault Dooley, et al. on that front.

Finally, I'm all in for Jones and his staff. He's inherited a darn good team, especially on the OL, the DL, LB's, and some decent RB's. They need help with ST's, DB's, and with breaking in a new QB - a far cry above what Dooley inherited. Dooley leaves his successor with a good squad and no NCAA problems, a much different situation than what he inherited.

Best and most factual post I've read in weeks!! Way to go CroKev! Would you please apply for ja's job? KNS needs a sharp sportswriter.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to volsmith:

Got an e-mail from scout.com saying we got a commit which turned out to be a 2 star rated athlete. That is not going to get the job done. We need 4 and 5 star players if we are going to compete. I say do not give scholarships to anybody below 3 stars. Yank the offers to the 2 star players.

I agree with what you are saying but Jones is at a disadvantage in terms of recruiting visits.

Only 34 left for the recruiting cycle.

I don't see that he can waste much time this year chasing those 4 and 5 star recruits and trying to develop a relationship in two months that the other team the prospect is committed to has been working on for two years or more.

There is roughly a quarter or less of the Rivals 250 that remains uncommitted and we are behind on most of those that would consider coming to UT thanks to Dooley.

BigBadVol writes:

Everything I read about Dooley has convinced me what a bad hire he was during the Hamilton years. I think the approach that CBJ and staff are taking will reap long term rewards. TN has to sell itself with a caring staff being the other component. I choose to be an optimist. I will always love the Vols! I have a great life after graduating from UT with incredible memories from long ago. TN will once again be at or near the top with the right staff. This coach appears to get it. Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. This staff cares! VFL!

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