John Adams: Vols should be California dreaming in football

John Adams

“Go West” should be one of the recruiting slogans for Tennessee football. And I’m not referring to West Tennessee.

Oh, I believe in new coach Butch Jones’ plan to make in-state players a higher priority. But I also believe in the research of colleague Evan Woodbery, who recently pointed out UT’s high ratio for success in recruiting California the past 20 years. So why not expand on it?

Never mind the distance. Tennessee has one of the biggest recruiting budgets in the country. It can spare the fare.

When you consider the competition, it’s worth the investment.

Everywhere Tennessee turns in the Southeast, it’s running into flourishing programs: Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, even Ole Miss now.

Beating other SEC schools in recruiting is as difficult as beating them on the field, where Tennessee’s conference record the last five years is 12-28.

California is a different ballgame. There, you’re competing with Pac-10 schools. There, you would stand out.

Forget the distance in miles. The SEC puts players closer to the NFL no matter where they call home.

More than half of the first-round picks in the next draft could come from SEC schools. That’s more appealing than California weather for a recruit with pro aspirations.

Something else in UT’s favor: Californians seem to like East Tennessee.

Tennessee has 17 student-athletes from California on its current sports rosters. Its nationally acclaimed softball program has become California East under co-coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly.

“We’ve never had a California kid go home,” Ralph Weekly said. “We had one we asked to leave (for disciplinary reasons) and one left because she was injured. But none that ever just quit the program.

“And a lot of them stay here.”

Senior third baseman Raven Chavanne of Thousand Oaks, Calif., is in no hurry to leave. Although she will graduate this spring, she plans to stay at least another year.

Chavanne and junior shortstop Madison Shipman, who’s from Valencia, Calif., both chose UT because of the coaches. If the Weeklys had set up shop in a Kansas cornfield, Chavanne and Shipman might have been just as likely to join them.

But once here, both have found attractions beyond softball. And they think other California student-athletes would, too.

“You can’t experience a college town in California,” Chavanne said. “It’s impossible.”

The college atmosphere won over Shipman right away. She’s a football fan, and it didn’t take her long to figure out that football matters a lot more in the Southeast than it does in California.

“I came out here and it was just a river of orange all over the place,” she said. “Football is a way of life.”

If Knoxville can wow a college football fan, imagine what it could do for a prospective college football player.

It won over Casey Clausen, who left California for UT in 2000. He was Tennessee’s starting quarterback for four seasons. His quarterbacking brother, Rick, helped UT win the SEC East in 2004. Tyler Bray, another California quarterback, is now off to the NFL after three seasons with the Vols.

Tennessee has a history of success with California players. It should take advantage of that.

And establish itself as the best SEC alternative on the West Coast.

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 » 52

CoverOrange writes:

Yeahyeahyeah!!! JA is so right! We gotta go to California. I'm going to the UTAD office right now to get my plane reservations! Oh wait, I'm not on the coaching staff. Who is JA talking to then?

orangeman1 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Yeahyeahyeah!!! JA is so right! We gotta go to California. I'm going to the UTAD office right now to get my plane reservations! Oh wait, I'm not on the coaching staff. Who is JA talking to then?

People like us who click on his article I guess. Yea, the story is fluff, but it is true. Fulmer had success with the west coast, and there's no reason Jone cant do the same.

tenuscvol writes:

Good point John, and a well written article...

However, the sentence above could have just ended wtih "...them on the field. (Period)..") the reference to the SEC results didn't add anything to the point being made and could easily have been omitted..." I prefer being excited for the future then to keep being reminded of what we've been through the last few years.

IMHO

Anyway, it was still overall a good article.

Possum Rules!

GoVols!

golfman1975 writes:

Yeah...I'm sure our coaches never thought about this.

(sarcasm)

rb4346 writes:

CBJ will get the best players that fit into his system, agree ther are a lot of good players in California. They need to be playing for CBJ instead of Coach Kiffie.

tturley#297658 writes:

Kevin Burnett, Kevin Simon, Sperminator, and Arian Foster were other Californians of note... We need a direct flight from Knoxville to California though, that would help cut down the travel time for recruits' families to come and watch them play.

VolzsFan writes:

We need to stop writing stupid football stories in February. It's basketball season and no one really cares about this junk. Face it, those Hall of Fame days of 10 wins per year for 16 years along with National Relevance are over. Have a great tailgate......that is all that is left.

VFLVFLVFL writes:

in response to tturley#297658:

Kevin Burnett, Kevin Simon, Sperminator, and Arian Foster were other Californians of note... We need a direct flight from Knoxville to California though, that would help cut down the travel time for recruits' families to come and watch them play.

With all due respect, Arian Foster is from New Mexico..

123forVOLS writes:

Is anyone anymore pathetic when it comes to addressing the UT football program than John Adams? I hear no contradictories. But then some of the postings on here could come close...see Alwaystime2troll.

Geofffourmyle writes:

Another nothing article from John Adams.

Walt

UT '81

ozoney#235138 writes:

i dont know why people still read this quacks drivel

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

It's more to do with California's year-round climate and large population. Outdoor sports are played year-round and training opportunities are many. Tennessee only has around 5.5 million people in the entire state, which in West Tennessee is largely Memphis. Florida has 19 million.. Texas has around 29 million and California round 39 million. Tennessee doesn't have just fewer good athletes as much as it has fewer people to start with.

underthehill writes:

in response to ozoney#235138:

i dont know why people still read this quacks drivel

Confusing isn't it..must be a bunch of attention seeking free loaders like you appear to be..

creekroad writes:

Hey kid, you are more pathetic than Adams

arkyvol writes:

re: casey clausen. he turned out to be a much better q.b. than his much ballyhooed kid brother, jimmy.

dirislr#209355 writes:

in response to ozoney#235138:

i dont know why people still read this quacks drivel

Did you read it?

AllforTenn writes:

Well, all you pessimists get to spew your hatred filled comments again. Hope you all feel better now. The rest of us just brush off glennfordsfoible,so-called volzfan, andforhislasttune, etc. What a miserable life each must lead.

underthehill writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

Another nothing article from John Adams.

Walt

UT '81

Walt..being the astute historian I have observed you to be..I assumed you would have heard by now..the British have been defeated..we are free..spread the word..we don't have to read John Adams..we are free..spread the word..we are free..and by the way..I do enjoy your controversial observations..get back to doing more of em...

John_10065 writes:

in response to VFLVFLVFL:

With all due respect, Arian Foster is from New Mexico..

New Mexico is just one good earthquake away from being the west coast.

underthehill writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The broader point is that ..the history of UT sports indicates changes are made only when attendance dictates they must be made..the attendance in women and men's basketball is currently very strong..football attendance may get worse before it gets better..I think it is more than evident the board..or whoever..made a monumental mistake in hiring Hart..I think this hire has ..and will ..continue to diminish donations..but..Jones should be ..and will be..judged on his own performance..now that he has been hired to work a miracle..the broader point will be..will fans be patient enough to give him the time needed..I think they will and here is why..UT football is not just about a sporting event..it is more of a social event..I think Jones will weather the storm and improve the football program to be competitive in 3 years..those expecting instant success are not being realistic..look at the schedule..look at the roster..all I expect is for Jones and his staff to give it their best shot..I see no reason to think they have not done that ..thus far..

calvol writes:

in response to VFLVFLVFL:

With all due respect, Arian Foster is from New Mexico..

He may have started off there but he was the star tailback at Mission Bay HS in San Diego where he rushed for 2100 yards his senior year and earned all sorts of regional accolades.

As a Californian that went to UT, I can tell you that the softball player is right- there is no campus experience out here that can compare. Most the schools are mega commuter schools that are overcrowded and have little atmosphere. There are a couple of notable exceptions, but the sheer number of athletes in Cali (the state is closing in on pop 40M) dictate that not everyone is Stanford or Berkely bound.

Tennessee, both the university itself and the athletic program, are still highly regarded out west. CBJ should have some assistant or intern out here 24/7 if it's legal.

ElizabethtonvolnNC writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Glenn Fords Fool -

The man chosen to lead UT football was 27-13 at CMU while your Chosen One BK of famed ND went 19-16.Note - The team Jones inherited included 19 gradutated seniors.

Additionally, after taking over at Cincy and another senior ladden team graduating 14 players and (8 - 1st or 2nd team all B E) went 4-8 but subsequently won 2 Big East Championships with a 2 year record of 19-6.

Sorry you feel like you were sold a bill of goods....sounds like a winner in my book, definitely not a Dooley.

gogovols2002#222335 writes:

in response to VFLVFLVFL:

With all due respect, Arian Foster is from New Mexico..

Wrong...in 2002 Foster moved to San Diego, to be with his father. Foster competed in football at Mission Bay Senior High School,

SouthPaVol writes:

The west coast also includes the productive state of Oregon, home of former Vol QB Eric Ainge. For our 2014 class, two of the three Lady Vols' recruits are from Oregon, including a 6'5" dominant post player that will lead the Lady Vols to NC #9.

And more on the conspiracy theorist' line of thinking, the honorable Tee Martin is spending time coaching and recruiting at USC to better learn west coast recruiting tactics, make contacts, then move back to Knoxville. Go Vols!

Theo writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

OK - let's review. Fulmer is gone, he is not coming back. Running down every coach and everything about the football program is not going to bring him back. Your loyalty is obviously to Fulmer rather than the Univ of TN. You should just get off of here and go follow Phil's twitter. Maybe that will make you a happier person. The rest of us are moving on and excited about the new coach and staff, the new kids and are ready to support them fully.

johnlg00 writes:

I agree that the Vols have had success with Californians in the past. No doubt the state produces hundreds of D-I caliber athletes in all sports and both sexes. Tennessee, the school, the town, the region, and the state could look like heaven for someone who grew up in the smog- and traffic-choked environs of LA or the sun-baked wastes of the Central Valley. No doubt parts of California are still very nice. No question there are a whole slew of elite universities out there.

Still, the main football schools all have drawbacks as far as elite athletes are concerned. Few of those schools are football-mad to the extent UT and the rest of the SEC are. USC may be in for a prolonged spell in the NCAA wilderness. Stanford and Cal-Berkeley are hard for many athletes to qualify for academically. UCLA is in the heart of that sprawling megalopolis. Since it is increasingly difficult for UT to penetrate the surrounding states for top-grade talent, the logic for them to "head west" in search of top-grade talent is unassailable. As someone already said, I'm pretty sure the staff is already aware of this. We do still have potential allies out there. Casey Clausen, for one, is heavily involved in HS football and, last I heard, still has good feelings for UT. I'm sure there are others. Contacting them on behalf of the UT program would be a good task for the network of ex-Vol lettermen Jones seems to be trying to (re)create. There's gold in them thar hills, guys; go get it and bring it back home to THESE hills!

The_View_From_Memphis writes:

On a related note, we see the staffs of 'BAMA, ARK., MISS ST. & OLE MISS in MEMPHIS all of the time! Heck, we even joke that Saban must have a second(or third) home in Memphis, because we see him here all of the time. Yet, the UT staff is encouraged to recruit Cali. UNBELIEVABLE!!

Again, to summarize; Nick Saban practically lives in Memphis, TENNESSEE, but the HOME-STATE VOLS are advised to recruit 2K+ miles away. Yes, this makes perfect sense!!!

blaz2102 writes:

Say what you will. California has a boatload of skilled position players every year. Fulmer had to compete in Florida and didnt do as well there. He went west...and did well. Foster was not an unusual player in San Diego. USC and UCLA dont even have to get on an airplane to recruit. Tennessee recruited from the perifial(sp) areas around San Diego and SF/Oak/Sac and have done well historically. They can again. The Weekly's have embedded themselves there and have cultivated California consistently. Therefore softball coaches, parents and kids know Tennessee. Most of the girls from California on UT's team are also recrutied (hard) by PAC12....but decide to go to UT. Coaches and facilities are their biggest reasons why they come to UT...and they win.

Volbound1700 writes:

California is great for offensive players, in fact better than Southeast region, but we won't find any good defensive ends or linebackers out there unless they are Somaon or Hawaiian.

SignalMtnVol writes:

in response to VFLVFLVFL:

With all due respect, Arian Foster is from New Mexico..

Born in NM. Lived and played ball in San Diego from 2002 until he was recruited to Tennessee.

Just an FYI.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to The_View_From_Memphis:

On a related note, we see the staffs of 'BAMA, ARK., MISS ST. & OLE MISS in MEMPHIS all of the time! Heck, we even joke that Saban must have a second(or third) home in Memphis, because we see him here all of the time. Yet, the UT staff is encouraged to recruit Cali. UNBELIEVABLE!!

Again, to summarize; Nick Saban practically lives in Memphis, TENNESSEE, but the HOME-STATE VOLS are advised to recruit 2K+ miles away. Yes, this makes perfect sense!!!

Nobody is saying to abandon Memphis, though the pickings have been slim, with a few notable exceptions, for the Vols for years there. They may well have gotten more impact players from California over the years than they have from Memphis. I'm sure Jones has noticed that Memphis produces a lot of SEC-quality players and is trying to get his share. However, if he could get half of the top 20 players in Tennessee, Memphis included, and five or so of the top 50 in California, that would be a pretty good start to a competitive class.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volbound1700:

California is great for offensive players, in fact better than Southeast region, but we won't find any good defensive ends or linebackers out there unless they are Somaon or Hawaiian.

Well, there was Kevin Burnett. Given some time I might think of some others. There are quite a few California defensive players in the NFL. A guy who can play in the historic USC or Stanford programs and then star in the NFL could probably play at UT. Besides, the Vols have already had more than a couple of Samoan/Hawaiian players, so what are you saying?

golfman1975 writes:

in response to ALWAYS_TIME_2_TROLL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He didn't have time to recruit out west...had to work quick. Next year will be the year we see how he can recruit...

Snapshot writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

We need to stop writing stupid football stories in February. It's basketball season and no one really cares about this junk. Face it, those Hall of Fame days of 10 wins per year for 16 years along with National Relevance are over. Have a great tailgate......that is all that is left.

Maybe you just need to quit reading them. Really, you are a fan?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Snapshot:

Maybe you just need to quit reading them. Really, you are a fan?

No, he is certainly not a VOL fan. He is a notorious UF troll who always has a "z" in his screen name. He just comes on here to stir the pot. Pay him no mind.

Lizardgrad89 writes:

It's a long way to travel to play for a team you barely heard of growing up.

I'm sure you Vols will look at that as a shot, but really, how much do you hear about the University of Washington here in SEC country? I mean, other than they got crushed by LSU recently. You see any elite Southern kids heading that far from home to play for a 2nd tier PAC-12 team? Nope. Similarly, you aren't going to get any elite Cali kids out here to a team that all they know about it is that Oregon beats the crud out of them.

And before you say that it's different because UT won a title in 1998, I would remind you about the dominant Washington teams of the early 90's. I think Washington and Tennessee are a great comparison.

Be honest, wouldn't you think it very odd if elite Florida, Georgia, Louisiana boys started heading to Washington? Same for elite Cali boys heading to Tennessee.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

Another nothing article from John Adams.

Walt

UT '81

You need to jettison the John Adams obsession Walt. It's not healthy.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Snapshot:

Maybe you just need to quit reading them. Really, you are a fan?

An inveterate troll he is.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Lizardgrad89:

It's a long way to travel to play for a team you barely heard of growing up.

I'm sure you Vols will look at that as a shot, but really, how much do you hear about the University of Washington here in SEC country? I mean, other than they got crushed by LSU recently. You see any elite Southern kids heading that far from home to play for a 2nd tier PAC-12 team? Nope. Similarly, you aren't going to get any elite Cali kids out here to a team that all they know about it is that Oregon beats the crud out of them.

And before you say that it's different because UT won a title in 1998, I would remind you about the dominant Washington teams of the early 90's. I think Washington and Tennessee are a great comparison.

Be honest, wouldn't you think it very odd if elite Florida, Georgia, Louisiana boys started heading to Washington? Same for elite Cali boys heading to Tennessee.

Your argument would have more merit if the Vols hadn't ALREADY had a fair number of California guys come to UT. Some of them were 1st-team All-State out there. LB Kevin Burnett was a 3-year starter for one of the all-time winningest programs in national HS history.

Who knows why some players choose to go where they do? For every homebody who wants to be within a couple hours' drive from Mom's home cooking, there is another who wants to get as far away as he can from a dysfunctional family or a crime-ridden neighborhood.

Again, it's not like UT is completely unknown out there or that other guys haven't made that trip before. UT has always had to recruit nationally, all the way back to Robert Neyland, and as long as UT can't penetrate the neighboring states to the extent they used to, why WOULDN'T they try to reestablish their presence in California?

Geofffourmyle writes:

in response to underthehill:

Walt..being the astute historian I have observed you to be..I assumed you would have heard by now..the British have been defeated..we are free..spread the word..we don't have to read John Adams..we are free..spread the word..we are free..and by the way..I do enjoy your controversial observations..get back to doing more of em...

Thanks!

John Adams was one of the leading and earliest proponents of independence.

"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress!

For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesty of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?"

-"1776"

Walt

UT '81

underthehill writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

Thanks!

John Adams was one of the leading and earliest proponents of independence.

"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress!

For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesty of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?"

-"1776"

Walt

UT '81

Good job..I like it !!!

Geofffourmyle writes:

in response to murrayvol:

You need to jettison the John Adams obsession Walt. It's not healthy.

I hold you blameless for being obsessed with me.

Walt

Ut '81

underthehill writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

I hold you blameless for being obsessed with me.

Walt

Ut '81

Your image just took a beating..you are actually a kind and forgiving person..good job..

pingkr62 writes:

in response to ALWAYS_TIME_2_TROLL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What ever you're smoking, put it away. Your thinking is as cloudy as your bong water. G.B.O.!!!

pingkr62 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Your image just took a beating..you are actually a kind and forgiving person..good job..

I hope Walt can forgive me. I haven't been very kind to him in the past. G.B.O.!!!

UTvols33 writes:

Someone should tell Adams that there are 14 teams in the "PAC-10" and that it's a little early to say that Ole Miss is "flourishing."

True that there has been some interest in UT from California recruits in the past, but honestly I don't really care where they come from as long as they can play and represent the university well. Jones needs to seal the borders up in Tennessee for 2014, as there is an unpresidented amount of talent in the state for that class, but I'm sure he knows that already as he is a head coach of a major college football program and I am not.

Dave Hart is the best AD ever! : )
GO VOLS! BEAT FLORIDA!

rb4346 writes:

in response to ALWAYS_TIME_2_TROLL:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We shall see if they are 2nd tier recruits in your opinion and see if CBJ is not an SEC caliber coach. I think you are wrong on both statements and you will be eating you words Troll boy or girl, which ever you happen to be. Have a bad day Troll.

gwavescVOL writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Really? First of all if you're going to spend that much time with your nose in a thesaurus then at least proofread (after all you only have to do it once since you copy and paste the same comments on multiple articles). Informationally incorrect on most points, poor grammer, spelling, and just a general flow that well. . . doesn't really flow. If attention is what you wanted you got it, next time clean up the basics if you're going to make an attempt at intelligence insults.

ncvol11 writes:

in response to HaplessVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is true that Phil is not coming back. I don't think that many people would want him back after the performance that he put up his last five or so years at UT. However, you have to hold people accountable for their words and actions. Dave Hart professed to have a clear template of qualifications for the hiring of a new football coach. Yet what he hired was a person who did not fit the qualifications that he set forth. As a loyal fan and former Presidents Club member I will say that you can only judge people ultimately on their performance. Jones first recruiting class in which he had time to make an impact was poor at best. Auburn for gosh sake had a better class than ours with a coaching change, worse record and poorer faciilities. Those are the facts. It is self acknowledged that NFL experience in coaching is a significant factor for the highly recruited players yet we have very little. Not much SEC experience in coaches. Jones claims that he and his coaches do a great job connecting with the players parents yet Von Bells father told him to go to Ohio State. Jones claimed to have the best coaching staff in the SEC yet we have most of his old MAC and U of C staff. If they were the best recruiting performance would have been more positively impacted. So now out of this decision we are left with how well can they coach. We will see if the best coaching staff can win next Sept. and October. I have no predictions but will wait and see.
By the way I totally agree with the fact that the athletic department is a wreck. There are not too many coaches who have not been fired. I will say that I believe that both Cheek and Hart are accountable and if this move with Jones does not work out they both need to go and maybe sooner.

UTvols33 writes:

in response to ncvol11:

It is true that Phil is not coming back. I don't think that many people would want him back after the performance that he put up his last five or so years at UT. However, you have to hold people accountable for their words and actions. Dave Hart professed to have a clear template of qualifications for the hiring of a new football coach. Yet what he hired was a person who did not fit the qualifications that he set forth. As a loyal fan and former Presidents Club member I will say that you can only judge people ultimately on their performance. Jones first recruiting class in which he had time to make an impact was poor at best. Auburn for gosh sake had a better class than ours with a coaching change, worse record and poorer faciilities. Those are the facts. It is self acknowledged that NFL experience in coaching is a significant factor for the highly recruited players yet we have very little. Not much SEC experience in coaches. Jones claims that he and his coaches do a great job connecting with the players parents yet Von Bells father told him to go to Ohio State. Jones claimed to have the best coaching staff in the SEC yet we have most of his old MAC and U of C staff. If they were the best recruiting performance would have been more positively impacted. So now out of this decision we are left with how well can they coach. We will see if the best coaching staff can win next Sept. and October. I have no predictions but will wait and see.
By the way I totally agree with the fact that the athletic department is a wreck. There are not too many coaches who have not been fired. I will say that I believe that both Cheek and Hart are accountable and if this move with Jones does not work out they both need to go and maybe sooner.

What does yours or HoplessVols comment have to do with players from California?

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