#GVX Q&A Signing Day edition: Recruiting conversation with beat writer Evan Woodbery

Have a question for Evan Woodbery, the News Sentinel's Tennessee football beat writer?

You've come to the right place.

#GVX Q&A isn't a live chat. Nor is it a traditional question-and-answer format. Think of it as an "open thread" -- a day-long conversation between readers and the reporter who covers Vols football for GoVolsXtra and the News Sentinel.

Have a question? Just ask in the comments section below. Although everyone can view the conversation, only subscribers can join the exchange. Already a subscriber? It's easy to activate your digital account here. Not yet a subscriber? Consider a digital or premium subscription.

Here's a running tally of the Vols' 2014 class.

I'll also post answers to questions from Twitter as time allows:

Q: Timthetreedude1: Any late targets on the offensive line to fill Orlando Brown's spot?

A: Any new faces at this point would be a surprise. But you're correct to note that Brown's departure, while not unexpected, leaves only three offensive linemen in this class. Offensive line is the only position of need that wasn't fully addressed in this class, but Butch Jones has said that it will take two years -- or perhaps even three -- to get the Vols' depth at offensive line back to where they would like.

In the long-term, I think this increases the likelihood that defensive line signees Jashon Robertson and Charles Mosley end up on the offensive line. Both players will at least begin their careers on the defensive side of the ball.

The Vols will have fewer needs in the 2015 recruiting cycle, but offensive line will remain one of them.

Q. Oleg Zeltser: If there is a surprise today do you think it will be a good news or bad news?

A. I got several questions about potential "surprises." Even linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen, in an interview with UT this morning alluded to that possibility.

But recruiting is so well covered by so many sites that it's hard to believe someone could be kept under wraps for this long. The only two real question marks for today are defensive linemen Cory Thomas, who I think will probably go to Clemson, and Michael Sawyers, who I think is bound for UT.

Anybody else -- even a late, lower-rated fill-in -- would be a pretty big surprise.

So maybe they're just trying to boost "ratings" for an otherwise uneventful day. Or maybe Butch Jones does have something up his sleeve.

Q. Brian Harris: At the end of the day, does Tennessee have a top-5 class?

A. In the 247Sports Composite rankings, which include the ratings of all major recruiting services, the Vols are No. 6. From what I'm told, that's the most likely finish.

If Texas A&M has an unexpected defection, or UT has a major surprise up its sleeve, it's possible the Vols could move past the Aggies for the No. 5 spot. But that's not likely.

Here's the current top 10 in the 247Sports Composite: Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, LSU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Auburn, Notre Dame, Florida, Georgia.

As you can see, it's SEC-heavy.

Q. Connor Howard: How many commits are there that aren't academically ready, aside from Orlando Brown?

A. That's a good question, and one of the reasons that we don't know for sure is that "academically ready" is a moving target. For instance, if Jerome Dews or Orlando Brown were five-star prospects, I think they'd be in the Vols' signing class right now, and UT would do everything and anything in its power to get them qualified. A marginal prospect is unlikely to get that benefit of the doubt. It's a risk-reward decision, and teams are more likely to risk signing non-qualifier if the reward is an elite prospect.

The only other player I recall hearing any academic question about was linebacker Gavin Bryant of Jackson, Ala. The academic issue was floated as one reason that Alabama and Auburn didn't recruit him as aggressively as you might expect. But apparently most of those academic questions have been cleared up and UT expects him to be here this summer.

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Comments » 6

underthehill writes:

With 31 on the big signed board..who is left

TommyJack writes:

Major props to Butch. His success highlights the ineptness, if not pure laziness, of the previous regime.

WaitUntilNextYear writes:

Why did they fill the class with 3 NR players that were not even offered by any other schools. The Durden kid doesn't look like much of a get and the other two are total unknowns?ESPN just reported all three NR's were signed by UT after losing three 3*'s in Dews, Brown and Thomas.
This really hurt the final rankings on average and total points. They have UT falling closer to 10 when it is all over with these signees.
Any explanation?

ewoodbery writes:

in response to WaitUntilNextYear:

Why did they fill the class with 3 NR players that were not even offered by any other schools. The Durden kid doesn't look like much of a get and the other two are total unknowns?ESPN just reported all three NR's were signed by UT after losing three 3*'s in Dews, Brown and Thomas.
This really hurt the final rankings on average and total points. They have UT falling closer to 10 when it is all over with these signees.
Any explanation?

I'm also sort of curious why they threw in some walk-ons on their official announcement, although for semantic purposes they were referred to as "newcomers" not signees.

I can only guess this could a way of obscuring the "magic number" of scholarships available for the class.

I don't think it will affect the rankings, as the sites generally only include the top 20 or 25 (forget which) signees.

For that same reason, the loss of Dews and Brown probably won't matter, as both were toward the bottom of the class in rankings.

-- Evan

RoadTrip writes:

They didn't lose Dews. He will be a Vol come next January. He is only 17. Needs another year at prep school to mature and not because of academics. It has full support of his family. This has been known and agreed to by all parties since his original commitment. He had other scholarship offers, but chose to continue on this path. Source: his step-father.

ewoodbery writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

They didn't lose Dews. He will be a Vol come next January. He is only 17. Needs another year at prep school to mature and not because of academics. It has full support of his family. This has been known and agreed to by all parties since his original commitment. He had other scholarship offers, but chose to continue on this path. Source: his step-father.

That's possible, but 11 months is a long time and I think it's far from a given that he ends up in Knoxville. The 2015 class will be smaller and UT will have to be more selective. We'll see how things shake out over the next year.

-- Evan

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