Tennessee's 2012 football recruiting class is easily forgotten as the hype mounts for the signing class to come.
Wednesday is National Signing Day. It's a day for looking ahead, not back.
But as you look past Wednesday to next season, you shouldn't lose sight of former coach Derek Dooley's last recruiting class.
Never mind all the attrition. Enough players remain to have a significant impact in 2013, especially when you consider the three juniors UT lost to the next NFL draft. The departure of quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter leaves a 5,473-yard void in passing and receiving yardage to fill.
That's where the 2012 recruiting class comes in. It likely was recruited with the possibility of such attrition in mind. You will find out this fall if the Vols got the right guys. Recruiting services suggest they did.
Patterson, a junior college transfer, was the most publicized wide receiver in Tennessee's 2012 recruiting class. And the publicity wasn't misplaced. He's expected to be a first-round draft pick after just one season of major college football.
But there were other noteworthy receiver signees in the class. Pig Howard might have played more if he hadn't been injured in the preseason. He still played enough to demonstrate his speed and athleticism.
Don't forget about the redshirted wide receivers, either.
You wouldn't forget if they were among the commitments in this year's class. Instead, you would think they were just what the Vols needed after losing three productive wide receivers in Hunter, Patterson and Zach Rogers.
Like Howard, Drae Bowles of Jackson and Jason Croom of Norcross, Ga., were four-star recruits when they signed with the Vols last year. Both were redshirted this past season.
ESPN rated Bowles (6-0, 200 pounds) as the No. 2 prospect in Tennessee and the 16th best wide receiver in the country. And he was versatile enough to play linebacker at Jackson Christian School.
Croom (6-5, 235) was a consensus top-300 recruit nationally. He played in three games last season before suffering a shoulder injury, which required surgery.
If Croom and Bowles were in this year's class, you would want to hear high school testimonials. Their high school coaches are still happy to provide them.
Both coaches mentioned work ethic when asked this week why they thought the players would be successful at the college level.
"No doubt, (Croom) is a heck of an athlete," Norcross High coach Keith Maloof said. "And he has the desire. Unfortunately, he had that shoulder surgery."
Matt Underwood, who coached Bowles at Jackson Christian, referred to Bowles' character when asked for the player's best attribute. Underwood said when Bowles was home during the Christmas holidays, he threw "out routes" to him. He also said how excited Bowles was in anticipation of his first opportunity for playing time.
The quarterback from the same recruiting class should be excited, too. Nathan Peterman, who was redshirted last season, will compete with Justin Worley to succeed Bray at the position. While Worley has more experience, Peterman is more athletic and might fit new coach Butch Jones' offense better. It won't hurt his chances that Jones recruited him when he was the coach at Cincinnati.
Next week won't be about Peterman, Croom, Bowles and Howard. But next fall might be.