Remember when freshmen football players arrived a day or two before August camp?
Today, most programs want their new players on campus as early as possible, and with nearly two months left before practice, almost every member of Tennessee’s 2013 signing class is enrolled, going to class and participating in workouts.
The ones who aren’t here are racing to catch up.
The only academic casualty in the 2013 class is running back Jabo Lee, who coach Butch Jones said was unlikely to qualify.
The other three players who were not officially enrolled at the start of the summer session are on track to do so, Jones said.
Quarterback Riley Ferguson’s plan to be on campus with his teammates on May 30, the first day of classes at UT, was thwarted only by the university’s early calendar.
Jones said the early start for UT’s summer session, combined with a late graduation in some school districts, made it challenging for some players.
But Ferguson, who was on campus on Monday, has been frequently making the four-hour drive to Knoxville from his
home in suburban Charlotte.
Jones said Kendall Vickers, a late addition to the class from Haverlock, N.C., was in a similar situation. Vickers, a longtime South Carolina commitment who switched to UT after the Gamecocks filled up their class, is still expected to be fully qualified and ready for class when the second summer session begins on July 8.
Receiver Ryan Jenkins had said for several months that he might not be enrolled for the first summer session. Jenkins has one class to finish, Jones said, but there should be no obstacle to his enrollment later this summer.
The loss of Lee wasn’t unexpected, although it still stings because of Tennessee’s lack of depth at running back. Lee was originally on the recruiting radar of many top-tier programs, but he fell to East Carolina, in part because of concerns about his academics. When other running back options fell through just before National Signing Day, Tennessee extended a late offer and Lee chose the Vols over ECU.
UT is likely to help Lee find a place in a junior college and could choose to recruit him again in two years.
As for the rest of the 2013 class, five players enrolled in January and participated in spring practice. Fourteen more arrived in time to start class on May 30.
Among the group of 14, two are junior college prospects (receiver Johnathan Johnson and tight end Woody Quinn) and six play on offensive or defensive line. Receiver MarQuez North, quarterback Josh Dobbs and defensive lineman Jason Carr are the highest-rated prospects of the new group. North is perhaps the likeliest of that group to play immediately.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.