As many as 30 scholarships could be available to Vols in 2014

Danny Hutchins of Kingsport get an autograph from UT head football coach Butch Jones prior to the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, April 20, 2013. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Danny Hutchins of Kingsport get an autograph from UT head football coach Butch Jones prior to the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, April 20, 2013. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

When Butch Jones was hired last December, just two months before National Signing Day, the Vols had fewer than a dozen verbal commitments who would ultimately sign with the team.

Today, nine months before prospects in the Class of 2014 are allowed to sign, Jones has already collected 12 commitments, more than all but one other school in the Football Bowl Subdivision (Texas has 13).

“I think people around the country understand what we have here,” Jones said this spring amid a flurry of good recruiting news. “They’ve been waiting for Tennessee to wake up. And now we’re waking up.”

Why is the Vols’ class getting so big, so quickly?

There are several factors at play, but one reason is most glaring: In 2014, the Vols have the flexibility to sign an unusually large class.

Although teams rarely verify a firm number of available scholarships, a News Sentinel analysis of past recruiting classes indicates that the Vols could sign as many as 30 and perhaps more players in 2014.

To maximize the class, five of those 30 players would have to be early enrollees who start classes at UT in January and participate in spring practice. Those five players could then be “back-counted” against the 2013 class, which was unusually small.

NCAA rules limit teams to 25 scholarships each year, or 85 overall. In the past, teams frequently signed more than 25, assuming some players would not qualify academically. Other players would be asked to delay their enrollment. Some were simply dropped if there wasn’t enough space.

Backlash against this “over-signing” led to conference regulations that prohibited teams from signing more than 25 players in any class.

So why do many schools seem to sign more than 25 every year? By counting certain players against the previous class, teams can maximize their available scholarship numbers and make up for lean years by padding their numbers in future years. The term “back-counting” isn’t lingo recognized by the NCAA or SEC, but it’s used to describe the way teams make the most of the current system.

A year ago, Georgia was in a similar situation to Tennessee. Due to a number of factors, including lack of available space, Georgia coach Mark Richt signed an unusually small class in 2012. A year later, with more room under the 85-scholarship limit and a huge crop of in-state prospects, the Bulldogs signed 33 players.

Based on previous announced signing classes, here’s how it appears Tennessee got to this point:

The Vols announced 22 players in the 2012 class. Tino Thomas, a “grayshirt” whose enrollment was pushed back from 2011, made it a 23-man class. Although there were six early enrollees, it’s not clear if any were able to be counted against the 2011 class. Any players counted against 2011 could increase UT’s haul in 2014.

The Vols announced 21 signees in the 2013 class in February and recently added a potential summer enrollee in receiver Johnathon Johnson. The Vols could count at least two early enrollees against the 2012 class. With Johnson’s arrival, the Vols still would count only a maximum of 20 against the 25-man limit in 2013.

If UT convinces five prospects to enroll early, they could count all of them against 2013, with room to add up to 25 more as traditional summer arrivals for a total of 30.

The questions emerge when classes prior to the creation of the strict 25-man rule are factored into the equation. The Vols had sizeable early enrollments in 2010 and 2011, but that was before the current rules made programs think about class size the way they do today.

Of course, Tennessee could still choose to sign fewer than 30-odd players, but given the large senior class that UT must replace and the gaping holes on both the offensive and defensive lines, it’s likely that Jones and his staff will try to sign as many as possible.

Regardless of year-to-year signings, teams can never have more than 85 players on scholarship at any given time. That’s another area of contention and criticism for websites like Oversigning.com that chonicle players who are pushed off of rosters to make room for newly signed players.

But it seems unlikely that the 85-man cap will pose a problem for Jones and Tennessee.

Assuming all 2013 prospects qualify academically, the Vols will add another 17 scholarship players to the roster this summer, bringing the team’s total to 85, according to an unofficial count by the News Sentinel. (That figure includes two players who have uncertain futures. Suspended running back Marlin Lane is likely to return; senior defensive back Eric Gordon, who has been contending with personal issues, may not be back).

The Vols will lose 22 seniors to graduation after the 2013 season. At least one junior — offensive lineman Antonio “Tiny” Richardson — could leave early for the NFL. At least three former walk-ons who were awarded scholarships could return to walk-on status, if necessary.

That’s 26 potential vacant spots already, and that doesn’t include the inevitable attrition that occurs in any program over the course of a year.

Bottom line: Get ready for a busy National Signing Day in 2014. The Vols have plenty of room to spare.

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Comments » 54

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I heard UT had 30 available, and I'll be shocked if they use that many. It is nice to have so many schollys available with the new regime coming in. Like Tom Cruise said in Top Gun: "It's looking good so far"...GBO!

FWBVol writes:

I like the way Butch Jones and the staff are addressing the needs the team will have in the future. It's important to find the big boys for both the offensive and defensive lines and we need at least one or two more running backs to go with Hurd.

I think a team needs to sign a quarterback every year and Jones seems to be in the mix for a few of the top guys at that position.

Throw in a few linebackers and a couple of DBs and receivers and we should be OK.

laraccoon writes:

you can tell by the offensive line commits so far for the 2014 class Jones is heading in a different direction ,big and lean as opposed to massive . Also Jancek recruiting Vereen shows these dudes know what their doing . If they sign two top 5 classes , which i think is very possible going by what they seem to be doing so far , i think we will be in good shape going forward. History is on Jones side . “They’ve been waiting for Tennessee to wake up. And now we’re waking up.” I guess some of the best athletes see that too !

florida-volfan writes:

They need to take advantage of the situation....UT has been hurting in recruiting for quite a while. Gergia signed a huge class with great talent, as does Bama every year. Florida is always outstanding in recruiting, the state is loaded with talent. Same can be said for LSU. UT has the goods...one of the best strength and training facilities in the nation and a great stadium. They just need to get going in recruiting to keep up with the rival programs

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

Numbers shouldn't be our main concern, quality should.

SoFlaVol writes:

in response to FWBVol:

I like the way Butch Jones and the staff are addressing the needs the team will have in the future. It's important to find the big boys for both the offensive and defensive lines and we need at least one or two more running backs to go with Hurd.

I think a team needs to sign a quarterback every year and Jones seems to be in the mix for a few of the top guys at that position.

Throw in a few linebackers and a couple of DBs and receivers and we should be OK.

Hey FWBVol, nice post but let's not overlook the fact that we already have another running back commitment in this class. Treyvon Paulk is a highly rated all-purpose back, who in my opinion should offer a great contrast to the physicality of a large, powerful back like Hurd. Looks like "thunder and lightning" to me. While Jalen Hurd is certainly the higher profile recruit, I think Paulk will be a nice compliment to the running back corp which will be needed in the fast paced offense Coach Jones is bringing to the Vols. Check this kid out on Rivals or Scout. Rivals lists him in their APB (all purpose back) in the RB group. So, Treyvon, if you're reading this, thanks for your commitment and hang in there because after Jalen pounds them several times you can flash through the gassed D-line and before they catch their breath.

orangecountyvols writes:

Well said all of you.

Sounds great for the future.

Voltman writes:

Funny how evan fails to admit his mistakes that before jonathon johnson it could have been up to 31. But hey at least hes now factoring in the 2012 class and not just the 2013 class like he did in a poor article a few weeks ago.

Voltman writes:

For those who dont believe me heres evans own article where he proclaims Tennessee can only sign up to 29. http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2013/a...

nocleats writes:

I remember back when scholarships were reduced from 90 to 85 a sportswriter asked HC Johnny Majors if he could have the 5 schollys back, what would he use them on. Majors without hesitation said "Lineman"

SevenT writes:

Butch Jones better start recruiting because UT's cubbords are bare. Make no mistake about it this is going to be a pathetic team next year, much worse than last year. The unrealistic UT fan will turn on Jones mid season and by the end of next season Jones will be on the "Hot Seat" as UT fans will keep saying "we want Chuckie".

Just Saying

iowavol writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

Numbers shouldn't be our main concern, quality should.

Amen. Top 5 or Top 10 doesn't really mean anything. We need high quality folks who can compete in practice.

6972 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Butch Jones better start recruiting because UT's cubbords are bare. Make no mistake about it this is going to be a pathetic team next year, much worse than last year. The unrealistic UT fan will turn on Jones mid season and by the end of next season Jones will be on the "Hot Seat" as UT fans will keep saying "we want Chuckie".

Just Saying

Nice to see your crystal ball is working so well. You wouldn't mind giving me todays lotto numbers would you? Thanks in advance.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SevenT:

Butch Jones better start recruiting because UT's cubbords are bare. Make no mistake about it this is going to be a pathetic team next year, much worse than last year. The unrealistic UT fan will turn on Jones mid season and by the end of next season Jones will be on the "Hot Seat" as UT fans will keep saying "we want Chuckie".

Just Saying

It's "Cupboard" everywhere else in the U.S. except in tucky..

HtownVol writes:

All I know is UT has more 4 star WRs than ANYONE..
With current commits I count at least ten 4 star WRs.
Hopefully some can move to DB.
Can we start getting the D-Linemen now???

johnlg00 writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

Numbers shouldn't be our main concern, quality should.

As the former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin said, "Quantity has a quality all its own." Of course you want the best players you can get, but it hurts a team not to have enough players to practice with and for reserves in the games. The Vols have had less than their full authorized complement of scholarship players for several years now. Who knows how much better they might have been with a full squad even if the ones who made up those numbers weren't all-star types.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to johnlg00:

As the former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin said, "Quantity has a quality all its own." Of course you want the best players you can get, but it hurts a team not to have enough players to practice with and for reserves in the games. The Vols have had less than their full authorized complement of scholarship players for several years now. Who knows how much better they might have been with a full squad even if the ones who made up those numbers weren't all-star types.

I guess that's why Stalin had 16 million people killed, he was going for quantity??

volforeverandever writes:

Very good point.The Stalin blood purge was ruthless.He not only eliminated political rivals but the weak in body and mind.Makes you think of Ain't Del from College Grove . He wouldn't stand a chance with Stalin.

laraccoon writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

It's "Cupboard" everywhere else in the U.S. except in tucky..

i think granny Clampett used to refer to them as cubbords . and she was from "down in the holler" a way . that dude might needle on here with KY. basketball but he is a Fulmerite currently residing at green acres trailer park in Powell Angeles .

orangeman1 writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

Numbers shouldn't be our main concern, quality should.

But numbers help. There are always hits and misses in recruiting so the more recruits, the better odds of getting some hits.

murrayvol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I heard UT had 30 available, and I'll be shocked if they use that many. It is nice to have so many schollys available with the new regime coming in. Like Tom Cruise said in Top Gun: "It's looking good so far"...GBO!

Or like Humphrey Bogart said to Louie in Casablanca: "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" (with CBJ & Co.)

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Or like Humphrey Bogart said to Louie in Casablanca: "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" (with CBJ & Co.)

Absolutely...+1.

murrayvol writes:

in response to SevenT:

Butch Jones better start recruiting because UT's cubbords are bare. Make no mistake about it this is going to be a pathetic team next year, much worse than last year. The unrealistic UT fan will turn on Jones mid season and by the end of next season Jones will be on the "Hot Seat" as UT fans will keep saying "we want Chuckie".

Just Saying

What the hell is a "cubbord"??

And next year Cat fanciers will be saying "I shore do miss Joker."

murrayvol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I guess that's why Stalin had 16 million people killed, he was going for quantity??

I think it was way more than 16 mil BB. And there was a lot of quality in their number as well.

SevenT writes:

in response to laraccoon:

i think granny Clampett used to refer to them as cubbords . and she was from "down in the holler" a way . that dude might needle on here with KY. basketball but he is a Fulmerite currently residing at green acres trailer park in Powell Angeles .

Thanks for the spell check!!

Perhaps you and BiPolar should move in together and start a home furnishing and decorating business together since you two are obvious experts in the field

CroKev writes:

I remember that CBJ once laid out the numbers for how many scholarship players a team should have at each position. Does anybody know where that is and how we compare currently? The thread posted on 12/31/12 showed where we currently are:
http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2012/d...
Anyway, I'm sure he knows how many OL and DL we need.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

Numbers shouldn't be our main concern, quality should.

I agree..Jones certainly has momentum going for and if he can turn around the dismal past of in state recruiting that would be huge..Most haven't noticed but it took Spurrier 5 years to lock down the state of So Carolina and once he did player quality became consistent..Phil used to get some great players out of SC especially Gaffney and those days are gone..It's been a long time since HS players were talking so much about the Vols but Jones will have to win the battles this year head to head against that 2 faced Urban Meyer and also Bama;GA and Ole Miss for the 4 star players who are the ones that can truly turn a program around!! Urbie Boy has a plan to use his power in the south to make OSU into a more SEC looking team because in the end to win a NC OSU will have to beat the SEC champ..Understandably we lost a big time impact player to OSU last year and it would be great for Jone's recruiting for him to put that slime in his place

Navaloranges writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

Numbers shouldn't be our main concern, quality should.

I think you have to go back to the 2005 class to get a ranking this high, this early. We have one recruit that has essentially not been evaluated yet. Being that this is a Top 5 class currently, and one kid is basically not ranked, I'd say so far we're doing quite well on "Quality".

Jones has not just won everywhere he's been, hes won champioships. He's recruited very well for what he's had to sell. Before coming to the SEC, he was often getting the attention of atletes who ultimately went to the SEC because it is the elite conference. Now he has as SEC school to sell these kids and his real recruiting potential is coming to light.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to murrayvol:

I think it was way more than 16 mil BB. And there was a lot of quality in their number as well.

Too funny..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to laraccoon:

i think granny Clampett used to refer to them as cubbords . and she was from "down in the holler" a way . that dude might needle on here with KY. basketball but he is a Fulmerite currently residing at green acres trailer park in Powell Angeles .

Surely Granny wasn't that stupid??

bUTch_please writes:

UT lineman camp starts June 1st. Think there may a prospect or two decide to commit?

Go team #117

RollTideJoe writes:

I remember a few weeks ago several Vol fans bashing Alabama about taking commitments over twenty-five. Funny how it is different when it's the shoe on the other foot. What those whiners didn't want to accept then, but do now is the bottomline has to meet 25 when signing day comes around unless you have the opportunity this article describes due to changes with previous classes, etc. Nick Saban can do no more or less than Butch Jones or any other coach/program when everything is measured against the grand total.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to bUTch_please:

UT lineman camp starts June 1st. Think there may a prospect or two decide to commit?

Go team #117

Good point, UT may indeed be waiting to see some of these lineman drill one on one before deciding which ones fit their scheme the best. The DL in the SEC is the most important facet of the defense. It's the D-line size/quickness that separates the SEC from the rest of the country.

6972 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good point, UT may indeed be waiting to see some of these lineman drill one on one before deciding which ones fit their scheme the best. The DL in the SEC is the most important facet of the defense. It's the D-line size/quickness that separates the SEC from the rest of the country.

Good point about the DL impact in the SEC. I might add, a corner that can really play 1 on 1 against the best of the WRs doesn't hurt much either.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to 6972:

Good point about the DL impact in the SEC. I might add, a corner that can really play 1 on 1 against the best of the WRs doesn't hurt much either.

Absolutely..A Roland James or Eric Berry sure doesn't hurt..lol

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

I remember a few weeks ago several Vol fans bashing Alabama about taking commitments over twenty-five. Funny how it is different when it's the shoe on the other foot. What those whiners didn't want to accept then, but do now is the bottomline has to meet 25 when signing day comes around unless you have the opportunity this article describes due to changes with previous classes, etc. Nick Saban can do no more or less than Butch Jones or any other coach/program when everything is measured against the grand total.

Gump its a different situation

laraccoon writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

I remember a few weeks ago several Vol fans bashing Alabama about taking commitments over twenty-five. Funny how it is different when it's the shoe on the other foot. What those whiners didn't want to accept then, but do now is the bottomline has to meet 25 when signing day comes around unless you have the opportunity this article describes due to changes with previous classes, etc. Nick Saban can do no more or less than Butch Jones or any other coach/program when everything is measured against the grand total.

obviously you must see the writing on the wall or you wouldnt have started spending more time on this site. Hurd and im sure there are several others Bama would have taken that UT has committed . And while i know the Tide have nothing to worry about in the very near future i am sure seeing the recruiting rankings up to this point , especially A&M and the Vols starting to split talent that in the very not so distant future would have worn the Crimson has got to make you a little worried . Anyway , those who hint that taking to many commits is bad business shouldnt be taken serious anyway .

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volforeverandever:

Very good point.The Stalin blood purge was ruthless.He not only eliminated political rivals but the weak in body and mind.Makes you think of Ain't Del from College Grove . He wouldn't stand a chance with Stalin.

The reference was to the quality of the Red Army. At one of the conferences of the Allied powers, one of the Western allies made a disparaging remark about the fact that the only way the Soviets could win was by drowning the opponents in blood. Stalin said that luckily for him he had the troops to spare for that tactic. Hence, the quality of quantity.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Surely Granny wasn't that stupid??

Nobody pronounces the "p" in "cupboard". That's why many people don't know it's there.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bUTch_please:

UT lineman camp starts June 1st. Think there may a prospect or two decide to commit?

Go team #117

We can always hope!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Nobody pronounces the "p" in "cupboard". That's why many people don't know it's there.

Boarding cubs makes more sense than boarding cups??

Colliervol writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please. Everybody realizes that Dooley couldn't handle the job. You just keep beating a dead horse. We gave him a chance, he failed and we moved on. Now we give Butch a chance to succeed or fail and, yes, it really is that simple. BB, Naval and the rest have more coherent thoughts on their worst day than you and Rent-A-Center Boy have on your best. The only delusion around here is that you both think people take you seriously. Sorry to disappoint you there. You have been voted off the Big Orange Island.

voloffaith writes:

in response to johnlg00:

The reference was to the quality of the Red Army. At one of the conferences of the Allied powers, one of the Western allies made a disparaging remark about the fact that the only way the Soviets could win was by drowning the opponents in blood. Stalin said that luckily for him he had the troops to spare for that tactic. Hence, the quality of quantity.

Explanation understood, but I'm still not going to quote a Communist to make my point. Your choice of how to make your points.....

Navaloranges writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"...you swore, even when confronted with the URL links, that your true love Dooley never had anything other than a top 10 class."

LIE #1 - Never said it. I stated that his first two classes were 10-15 classes, and that he would probably land a top 15 in his third year. He didn't becauase two recruits backed out in the last minute. I was one of many that thought he had those two. It was disappointing, but non the less, I NEVER stated all Dooley pulled was TOp 10's. You're full of __it and EVERYBODY knows that.

"The fact reamains that the quality of athlete Jones is landing still ranks 11th in SEC in this current cycle."

LIE #2 - As you can see, UT currently places SECOND (2) in SEC rankings and THIRD overall, with NO SIGN of letting up. Jones WILL PULL a Top 10 class in the LEAST, probably Top 5 in the NCAA and SEC. Read up a little bit on the more respected sports pundits, they are saying the same thing. Please don't couont of the "facts" from yourself and your TWO friends.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football...

"...tell me again about all that SEC experience that Jones has..."

LIE #3 - NOBODY has said anything about Jones having SEC experience. He has the same amount that meyer and saban had when they got to the SEC.

I could go on but I think you've been embarrassed enough with REAL FACTS for now. But by all means, continue to post the "Troll Facts" all you want, and march on with your self-serving idiotic agenda. It isn't me, or any of the other REAL Vol fans on here, that looks ridiculous, IT'S YOU, POSER!

murrayvol writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Explanation understood, but I'm still not going to quote a Communist to make my point. Your choice of how to make your points.....

But would you quote a Buddhist?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Thx Colliervol & Naval, the egomaniac has gone to his lair to pick out the items he can easily twist around and hide facts with..He'll be with you shortly after all 3 of his aliases have enough material to make it appear like a real conversation, instead of ranting by one sick individual..Stay tuned.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Let's use them all. Quality and quantity will both help. Loosing the linemen after next year will hurt so we better develop some this year. If we keep getting good recruits we'll be fine. Rock on you Mighty Vols!

Go Big Orange!

BolivrBob writes:

in response to SevenT:

Butch Jones better start recruiting because UT's cubbords are bare. Make no mistake about it this is going to be a pathetic team next year, much worse than last year. The unrealistic UT fan will turn on Jones mid season and by the end of next season Jones will be on the "Hot Seat" as UT fans will keep saying "we want Chuckie".

Just Saying

You are more full than a Christmas Turkey

antonio14313 writes:

extremely well written article! and informative too! nice job. this site needs more like it. :)

go vols!

t

OrangePride writes:

Exactly! This could be a VERY big and important year for the Volunteer Rise to the Top. FIRST (and foremost), we need to have a competitive season on the field and win some games.......hopefully even a few where we are either just toss ups or underdogs. We want our prospects and recruits to see a program going in the right direction. SECOND: CBJ and staff need to just continue the evaluation, search, and lock down mission they've been on. When CBJ was announced, I have to admit I was just a little skeptical about this fit. My question did not concern his coaching and on-field abilities (4 championships led me to think he is more than capable in that area). No, my question was could he recruit down here...could he come in and attract in sufficient numbers the top athletes we need at Tennessee. That question is getting answered more every day...and we like what we see! GO VOLS!!! GO CBJ!!!

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