- 31 days: The Vols' recruiting plan
- Butch Jones' staff flips eight players in all
- Signing Day 2013: Butch Jones is still recruiting
- Butch Jones talks about selling the UT brand to recruits and parents
- Signing Day 2013: Butch Jones on the Vols' new quarterbacks
- Butch Jones' opening statements on Signing Day 2013
- Malik Brown signs with Tennessee
- Jabo Lee signs with Tennessee
- MarQuez North signs with Tennessee
- Dylan Wiesman signs with Tennessee
- Corey Vereen signs with Tennessee
- Cameron Sutton signs with Tennessee
- Austin Sanders signs with Tennessee
- Jaylen Miller signs with Tennessee
- Riyahd Jones signs with Tennessee
- Woody Quinn signs with Tennessee
- Jalen Reeves-Maybin signs with Tennessee
- Lemond Johnson signs with Tennessee
- Brett Kendrick signs with Tennessee
- Josh Smith signs with Tennessee
A 31-day, whirlwind recruiting race left Tennessee's new football coaching staff looking forward to a longer race. And they won't have to wait for the start.
"We hit the ground running (Wednesday)," wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni said after the Vols wrapped up a 21-player class that was ranked as high as 20th by recruiting services. "We all woke up with the mind-set, 'Let's get this 2013 class (signed) and let's roll on the '14 class.'
"What we did in 31 days was remarkable. Now, we're going to have 365 days to do it. And I'm excited about it."
"We made a lot of inroads today with coaches and kids that will really start the fireworks," Azzanni said. "I think some of the kids that jumped in the boat had faith in this program. I think it showed guys in the 2014
class that these guys are for real."
Assembling a rush-order class in the wake of a coaching change is nothing new for the majority of the staff. Some of them accompanied Jones on his move from Central Michigan to Cincinnati three years ago.
Linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen went through the same process just a few years ago when he joined coach Gene Chizik's new staff at Auburn.
"You've only got 31 days to run," he said. "We call it the fourth quarter. It's like being down 28-0. I thought we ran as good as we could.
"At Auburn, we ended up falling short on some kids but we ended up in the top 10 (in recruiting) the next three years."
Tennessee got in the running for several big-name recruits who went elsewhere. But it also succeeded in luring a number of players to UT who initially had committed elsewhere.
"We changed some people's thinking," said secondary coach Willie Martinez, who coached at Auburn last season. "Some of the kids that weren't giving a look at the University of Tennessee, they thought about it."
Martinez believes the staff has impressed more than recruits in its brief time on the job.
"I'm talking about high school coaching staffs, community leaders," he said. "I'm talking about how we carried ourselves as a staff. And our fan base is just phenomenal."
The coaches have connected with the fan base through Twitter. But the widespread use of social media in the recruiting process didn't make their job any easier, according to Thigpen.
"With social media now, it's easier to develop relationships," he said. "(Before social media), you could flip a kid on signing day because you're the most popular school.
"But now, the relationships are built and they're pretty solid. So when you walk in there in the fourth quarter, somebody has talked to that kid for 365 days. You're behind and just trying to climb the ladder.
"We just ran out of time."
John Adams is a senior columnist. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.