John Adams: UT needs walk-ons to fill NFL underclassmen quota

John Adams

Derek Dooley on searching for the right coaches

Tennessee fans have been so busy tracking the comings and goings of assistant coaches, they might have missed out on the full college football experience.

That's not a bowl reference. I'm referring to the annual January passage of college juniors to the NFL.

For those who have been preoccupied with UT's turnover of assistant coaches, here's a complete accounting of UT players leaving early for the NFL: 0.

Tennessee fans shouldn't be so quick to breathe a sigh of relief. Outgoing juniors aren't necessarily cause for lament. Instead, they can serve as an endorsement of your program.

Look who had the most players turn pro early: Alabama and LSU, the two teams who played for the national championship. Each will lose three players.

Those departures have had such an adverse impact on LSU that it's the consensus early pick to win the 2012 national championship. In one preseason top-25 poll, LSU and Alabama are ranked one, two.

The perpetuation of talent isn't a new development at either school.

Alabama was so devastated by running back Mark Ingram's early-out that it was forced to play

Trent Richardson. Now, he's leaving early, too. So the Tide will have to make do with Eddie Lacy, its second-leading rusher in 2011, and 245-pound Jalston Fowler, who combined to average 7.0 yards per carry this past season.

One Jim Thorpe award winner (cornerback Patrick Peterson) went pro early, and LSU replaced him with another Jim Thorpe award winner (cornerback Morris Claiborne). Since Claiborne is leaving for the pros as a junior, the Tigers will have to scrape by with cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist, and Tharold Simon, another future pro.

There's no better way to connect with a recruit than to convince him your program will prepare him for the NFL — so much the better if you can convince him it will take only three years.

Even Memphis can boast of an early draft entry, nose tackle Dontari Poe. New coach Justin Fuente would be foolish not promote that. He could make it as concise as a tweet: "If you want to go to a bowl, go somewhere else. If you want to go pro, come to Memphis."

He also could use it in negative in-state recruiting against UT. The tweet: "Early pro scoring: Memphis 1, Vols 0."

As second-year coach Derek Dooley upgrades Tennessee's talent level, this could change. Even next season, the Vols actually could have juniors inquiring about their NFL status. In the meantime, the Vols should consider a backup plan for down years. My recommendation: Persuade walk-ons to leave their mark on the program by turning pro early.

Each year, the program should have several junior walk-ons available for NFL duty. If no other UT juniors declare for the draft, the UT sports information office could announce the names of walk-ons going pro early and provide quotes as well.

Generic player quote: "I've enjoyed my time at Tennessee and am grateful to the program for preparing me to play at the next level. Thanks for a great three years, UT."

The player's name would then be added to the official list of early NFL entries published on the SEC web site. So what if readers would say, "Who's that?" The average college football fan would say the same about Dontari Poe.

The pro promotion also could do wonders for UT's walk-on program. What walk-on wouldn't be attracted to a school where he could go pro even if he couldn't play?

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 » 113

formerflgranny writes:

And JA why didn't you mention that one of Alabama's junior players leaving for the NFL was just arrested on drug charges?

BankerVol writes:

JA... you are an Effing IDIOT!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to BankerVol:

JA... you are an Effing IDIOT!

Banker,

Easy friend. Adams is giving up trying to be a journalist and is becoming a comedian.

Better choice.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say really only point is about the whole class Kiffen recruited(juniors this season) left but not for the NFL. Witch Doctor take one for the team and volunteer to walk on. Witch Doctor want old DeVry institute of Witch Doctoring jersey number 3478.(Go Turnips!)
Bones never lie.

dj54 writes:

wouldnt everybody like to reload idiot, ut will not stay "down" forever

VolinCalif writes:

John you are out doing yourself.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to BankerVol:

JA... you are an Effing IDIOT!

Witch Doctor throw up in mouth little at thought of saying this...but..(blummmmp) Witch Doctor say not bad considering whats been written outta Knoxville lately and(BLUMMMMMMP) Witch Doctor now sick and must take shower feels dirty..lol
Bones never lie.

Olcrow writes:

How great is LSU again?

tovolny writes:

John, the only thing worse than you is the KNS management. How they can justify to keep you around is beyond reason.

PLEASE LEAVE KNOXVILLE!!!!!!!

iowavol writes:

I'll second Wd's comment. What DA JA failed to say is that his love man Kiffin failed to recruit one NFL caliber player that is good enough to leave early for the NFL. JA was so in love with Kiffin, he can't bring himself to write a negative comment toward him.

BUt isn't that JA? Gifted at not telling the truth.

lguy (Inactive) writes:

in response to BankerVol:

JA... you are an Effing IDIOT!

And what does that make you? Responding with disguised profanity to a writer you hate, without paying for it, and doing it anonymously. You are pathetic and have no life. Wait -- I have an idea -- don't read him! Incredible that never occurred to you. What an effing idiot.

TheOpinion writes:

There is a difference between being the funny guy and being a joke. Adams hasn't figured it out yet.

Carry on....

crimsonviper writes:

Tough crowd tonight,Johnny Boy.

atruevol writes:

Doesn't speak very highly of either Fulmer or Kiffin. Looks like Dooley is potentially doing better with his two classes.

BankerVol writes:

in response to lguy:

And what does that make you? Responding with disguised profanity to a writer you hate, without paying for it, and doing it anonymously. You are pathetic and have no life. Wait -- I have an idea -- don't read him! Incredible that never occurred to you. What an effing idiot.

That was a little harsh Volgirl.

bigorange61 writes:

I guess this is what you do when you have writer's block or something. Article is major LAME.

GerryOP writes:

Lighten up y'all ... life is too short to take it too seriously!

Go Vols ... 228!

Digital5000 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BankerVol writes:

in response to bigorange61:

I guess this is what you do when you have writer's block or something. Article is major LAME.

Go easy on poor JA. 81Volguy-girl might scold you too. Heshe seems to be very protective of Mr. Adams for some reason...

thevoice writes:

in response to BankerVol:

JA... you are an Effing IDIOT!

Someday all folk will realize that freedom of reading preceded freedom of speech. And that will be a happy day.

VolunteerLifer writes:

This is one of the dumbest columns I can remember. When I got to the part where he advocates UT walk-ons announcing for the draft, I quit reading, irritated that I had read that far.

BankerVol writes:

in response to thevoice:

Someday all folk will realize that freedom of reading preceded freedom of speech. And that will be a happy day.

He's still an IDIOT

born2ride writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dooley's first was YEAR ZERO because the Vols were in such bad shape.

This was YEAR ZERO MINUS ONE because of the injuries to Hunter and Bray.

With all the assistants leaving we are now entering YEAR ZERO MINUS TWO.

Hopefully Dave Hart is keeping track of time (and losses) and it won't be long before this sad era is over.

Dobervol writes:

I think the actual writer of this "piece" is Paul Finebaum, not JA. Snide, pot-stirring muckracking. And in all honesty, JA had been doing much better of late, I thought. Until he let Finebaum write his column.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

The effort it must have taken to come up with that drivel is impressive. Have another one of whatever, John.

pcorange writes:

I've typically not been one to criticize the journalists here, but if this Adams guy is supposed to be a UT supporter, he's not doing a very good job of it. Let LSU and Bama's press tell the recruits how great they are. Tennessee needs all the help it can get in recruiting and we don't need the home town press writing negative articles. Historically, UT has put loads of players in the NFL and will continue to do so.

Ayres_Hall writes:

I see the reds are out tonight. And like the reds, JA is not paying attention. Coach Dooley told everyone his plan for rebuilding a depleated roster. Look it up if you need.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

It is sad that Knoxville and UT fans are subjected to this poor excuse for sports writing. Unless one reads other sources....even about UT, one could assume, after all these years, that this is what reporting and editorializing is about. Not. If one is reporting, state the facts. If one is writing oped, slant it however...but do not make it appear factual or newsworthy; just an opinion. Never mix both. It would be difficult for the reader to always discern the difference.

In this case, poor Adams does not know the difference. That, and his efforts would be rejected by the editor of a high school newspaper; wonder why not the KNS?

Perhaps more important, if a writer thinks he is a comic, the standard rule would be try the material out on family or a friend, before taking it public. JA obviously cut that class.

NashvillePreds writes:

So Tennessee's talent doesn't match up against lsu & bama at this point.
Thanks for the update...

smyrnavol1 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Dooley's first was YEAR ZERO because the Vols were in such bad shape.

This was YEAR ZERO MINUS ONE because of the injuries to Hunter and Bray.

With all the assistants leaving we are now entering YEAR ZERO MINUS TWO.

Hopefully Dave Hart is keeping track of time (and losses) and it won't be long before this sad era is over.

and what year did you play?

bobbarbilly writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say really only point is about the whole class Kiffen recruited(juniors this season) left but not for the NFL. Witch Doctor take one for the team and volunteer to walk on. Witch Doctor want old DeVry institute of Witch Doctoring jersey number 3478.(Go Turnips!)
Bones never lie.

I think I remember you 3478!! I got a full ride on a cabbage truck to play football at LA Academic School of Bathtub and Chamberpot Repair and we played your team in the Salad Bowl. I asked for the highest jersey number available and Coach Rhubarb gave me 10-10.( You remember me now I 'll bet, don't you? ) I got 10-10 because we only had 10 players and I had to play two positions. Longsnapper and punter. Late in the 4th quarter with the score tied at 3-0, I snapped the ball over my own head from the 18 yard line and you blew by me and caught the ball on the 1 yard line and ran it back 98 yards and stopped just as time ran out. You said that you were counting the yards as you ran and that you were sure that you had run a hundred yards and were standing in the endzone. Final score: Us 3, you'ns 0. Both of your fans were visably upset when they left their nail kegs. I sure wish that we would have had helmets to wear back then.

DarkGable writes:

Last week we had every so called sports writer with a "scoop" on the next DC all of which were wrong. Its is followed up by one of the dumbest waste of words article. No wonder Dooley and Hart keep info close to the vest. They sit back and watch you guys try to come up with something to write. Sad face.

TommyJack writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

paid staffers

bannervol writes:

Yeah John we get it. No doubt the last couple years have been a tough time to be a Vol fan, however we still love them and still support them. I am secure in the belief that we have the most intelligent coach in the country; CDD has a plan to lead us to the promised land; CDD has the resolve to move this plan forward; CDD will continue to ignore you couch potato stoopids who think they have some understanding of running a major college program, and CDD will continue to ignore idiot columnist who often times refer to themselves as journalists. CDD will succeed because of his intelligence, incredible work ethic and the expectations he has placed on himself and those around him.

thevoice writes:

thevoice writes:

in response to bannervol:

Yeah John we get it. No doubt the last couple years have been a tough time to be a Vol fan, however we still love them and still support them. I am secure in the belief that we have the most intelligent coach in the country; CDD has a plan to lead us to the promised land; CDD has the resolve to move this plan forward; CDD will continue to ignore you couch potato stoopids who think they have some understanding of running a major college program, and CDD will continue to ignore idiot columnist who often times refer to themselves as journalists. CDD will succeed because of his intelligence, incredible work ethic and the expectations he has placed on himself and those around him.

Here's a comment "someone" wrote yesterday about Dooley. I'm not sure it evokes intelligence and work ethic though...

"...First, I think most on here, including myself, have a vested interest in UT. Mine is because I'm an alumnus and I love and played sports.

I'm not expecting Dooley to perform miracles with the squad he inherited. What I am expecting for a coach at UT is a seasoned coach who knows what the SEC is about. Someone who knows what it takes to win. Dooley has coached 60+ games and is 6 games below 0.500. Dooley, or maybe his staff, do not know how to compete in second halves, nor how to adjust game plans, nor how to establish a run game or develop a special teams game. Nor do/did he understand/implement the importance of in-game management techniques, such as getting 11 players on the field to create a signature win. That win would have provided much needed confidence for him and the team. Dooley appears to have problems managing star athletes, as witnessed by a mass exodus of high caliber players in 2+ years. Dooley apparently has trouble selecting staff that want to work for him. I understand a coach or two leaving, but 6??!! Additionally, Dooley is doing himself no favors with the PR battle... bad-mouthing players, the 30-second comment recently.

In general, Dooley has done nothing that makes me believe he's the one to bring an SEC championship back to UT. Again, nothing. One may say he's recruited well. But show me the results. Ending the season with a UK loss has left a bad taste in most fans' mouths, as if this program is in worse shape than when Dooley arrived.

One of Dooley's biggest future problems, in my opinion, will be James Franklin. Here's a guy that has used his coaching to turn around a Vandy program (relatively speaking of course), and not because of players. Sure, it may not last, but college football is a year-to-year thing anyway. UT fans want that success!

Simply put, Dooley just does not possess a winning moxy and is on a learning curve that his biggest rival coaches aren't. If we wait 6+ years for Dooley to finally become an SEC coach AND other great SEC coaches move on, things may change. He'll be measured against Muschamp and Franklin..."

Snapshot writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Lighten up y'all ... life is too short to take it too seriously!

Go Vols ... 228!

I agree. Some people just don't get it. it's SATIRE!! It's suppose to be funny. Lighten up folks, it' just a newspaper column.

Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say really only point is about the whole class Kiffen recruited(juniors this season) left but not for the NFL. Witch Doctor take one for the team and volunteer to walk on. Witch Doctor want old DeVry institute of Witch Doctoring jersey number 3478.(Go Turnips!)
Bones never lie.

I'm sure this won't be the first time you've taken one for the team. Good girl.

BSweet writes:

I guess sarcasm goes over most people's heads. What's really telling about this article is that JA's sources at UT have gone so dry, he's forced into sarcasm rather than actual commentary. John, there's a reason CDD has cut you and your fellow "journalists" out of the loop. It's called professionalism, something most Knoxville sportswriters seem to lack. Remember the days when you could pick up a paper and read unbiased articles about the goings on on The Hill? Yeah, neither do I, it's been awhile.

Razor784 writes:

Usually I like Adams, but this article doesn't make any sense. I think it was supposed to be funny, but it's not.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say really only point is about the whole class Kiffen recruited(juniors this season) left but not for the NFL. Witch Doctor take one for the team and volunteer to walk on. Witch Doctor want old DeVry institute of Witch Doctoring jersey number 3478.(Go Turnips!)
Bones never lie.

LOLOLOL LMAO

Huttdawg100 writes:

This is more about recruiting than anything. That changes next year. Hunter, Rogers and Bray are all NFL talents. I definitely see Rogers going early. Hunter tweeted after AJ Green went to the Bengals that he'd leave after his junior year, but that was before his injury. I think he'll stay all four years. Bray would probably stay that 4th year as well: if he enters the draft next year, he's got Barkley, Landry Jones, and the kid from Arkansas to deal with. That would bump him down some.

So... In two years, Bray, Hunter, Jason Croom, Vincent Dallas, Neal, Tiny, Juwuan James, etc all on offense. AJ The Beast, Curt Maggitt, Mo Couch, Danny Obrien, McCullers, Santos, Trent Taylor on defense..... Is it 2014 yet?

CarlChilders writes:

Pass me a swig of that stuff, John.

SummittsCourt writes:

I didn't realize this was JA's "work" until I got to the part about junior walk ons turning pro.

Note to self: Make sure you understand who the author is before wasting any more of my time.

to JA - you are a butt

I_Bleed_Orng writes:

Be prepared for more drivel like this VOL fans!!

If you read the message boards, what are all the Vol fans talking about. The incoming coaches, commits and decommits, next years's schedule, etc. With all that, this article is the best JA can muster. Why?

Because he and the rest of the negative neophites at KNS have been locked out by Hart and Dooley. KNS will continue with lame articles such as these because they can get no better info than you and me surfing the web.

John, did you ever consider that if you started writing articles that were simply informative rather than opinionated, UT might let you back into the circle of info? Maybe you guys at KNS could stop turning every developing story at UT into a doomsday scenario.

You keep this up and you'll be relegated to the same level as Hyams and Basilio. Is that what you want?

DougSharp writes:

That was enjoyable! I would have liked to at least read the number of players total in SEC going pro early this year, but I can find that stat elsewhere. Fun piece John, thanks!

DougSharp writes:

in response to BlueTickHound4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

S-J-B, Now that was funny!!!

dirislr#209355 writes:

John Adams writes the columns to get readers like you all. He don't care where you like what what he writes or not, just as long as he has readers.
I have been going to UT football games for over 50 years. He is right. The loss to Kentucky was one of the all time lows for TN football.

roobomb writes:

I really didn't have a problem with this article. He points out a very valid issue; UT's talent level isn't near those teams that are dominating college football right now. Objective measures are important in tracking result in any endeavor, business, health or otherwise. His contention is that the number of juniors declaring for the draft for "Team A" is a good measure of talent, especially if it's not an isolated incident. As teams like LSU and Alabama perennially field some of the most talented teams, it becomes a valid metric. We're not sending players to the NFL right now; we were when were a more successful team. The same is very obviously true with college bball, but it's freshmen/sophmores leaving for the NBA. I'd bet if you went through and found those teams that sent the most juniors to the NFL over the past several years, you'd have a good list of some of the better teams in football.

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

Such a lame attempt at humor.

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