#GVX Q&A: Football beat writer Evan Woodbery takes your questions

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones makes his way through fans during the Vol Walk before an NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones makes his way through fans during the Vol Walk before an NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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 long-running conversation between readers and the reporter who covers Vols football for GoVolsXtra and the News Sentinel.

It's not too early to talk football, as we've already broken down each position with six weeks left before spring camp opens. National Signing Day is only two weeks away.

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.

To get the questions started, let's turn to some recent feedback from Twitter.

I think a lot of Tennessee fans would agree with you. On the one hand, this is superb landing spot for Kiffin, who gets to rehabilitate his career with a talent-laded roster and one of the most respected head coaches in the game.

On the other hand, he's inheriting high expectations. He'll have to replace three-year starter AJ McCarron at quarterback. What if Alabama takes a step back in 2014? What if the Tide takes a big step back? Kiffin will -- fairly or unfairly -- get much of the blame. The reward may outweigh the risk, but if the offense falters, this could be yet another blemish on Kiffin's resume.

As for the Alabama-Tennessee game in October, it's hard to imagine the Vols have narrowed the talent gap enough in one year to win an upset. But stranger things have happened: Compare Auburn's performance against Alabama in 2012 to the legendary 2013 game.

Why, yes. Read about it here.

Why is Tennessee's game, on April 12, about a week earlier than usual? I wondered the same until I checked the calendar. Easter falls on April 20 this year, meaning many teams will be moving their spring games a week earlier in 2014.

Since this question was asked, the Vols have added the 14 early enrollees, giving them an unofficial count of 67 players. That would leave 18 slots available to reach the NCAA-maximum of 85 slots. That would, in fact, be a 32-person class.

However, the 85-man overall limit won't be UT's biggest hurdle. The NCAA also limits teams to 25 signees per year, and that will be more challenging for UT.

We think that the Vols can "count back" six scholarships to the 2013 season, which would leave 25 more for 2014 -- a total of 31. However, we also think that UT could sign more than 31 and then use several strategies to count some of those players against the 2015 class.

Bottom line: UT lost enough players through attrition that the overall 85-man limit is not a major concern. There could also be other attrition between now and the summer to clear more space under the 85-man maximum.

Have some more questions? Get the conversation started in the comments section below:

Get Copyright Permissions © 2014, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2014 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 5

CASEXX writes:

I don't subscribe to any of the recruiting services so I'll ask a question that many may already know the answer to. It looks like UT will not sign a quarterback in this class. Who are some of the candidates that we are pursuing at that position in the 2015 class?

ewoodbery (staff) writes:

in response to CASEXX:

I don't subscribe to any of the recruiting services so I'll ask a question that many may already know the answer to. It looks like UT will not sign a quarterback in this class. Who are some of the candidates that we are pursuing at that position in the 2015 class?

Thanks for the question, CASEXX. Tennessee appeared to really target only QB in the 2014 class, and Jalan McClendon has remained firmly committed to North Carolina State. I wouldn't be totally stunned if UT kicked some tires this summer on transfer QBs, but for now, coaches appear done with the position.

In 2015, when UT will probably add two, coaches already have offers out to more than a dozen QBs.

The Vols have been out to see Zach Gentry, a 6-foot-6, 4-star pro-style QB in New Mexico. They're also aggressively recruiting five-star dual threat QB Torrance Gil of Fort Lauderdale. In-state, dual-threat 4-star Jauan Jennings of Murfreesboro is also high on the Vols' list.

There are plenty more, including some regional prospects who will probably get a closer look this summer. But the 2015 cycle is already in full swing.

allvol8 writes:

Thanks for doing this Evan.. How are we doing , recruitingwise, for new OL and DL 2014 and 2015?

ewoodbery (staff) writes:

in response to allvol8:

Thanks for doing this Evan.. How are we doing , recruitingwise, for new OL and DL 2014 and 2015?

I think they've taken huge steps, especially on the defensive line, in 2014. On the offensive line, I think the numbers are such that they'll need to have another big class in 2015. But that's not a surprise, as there was a large gap in the recruiting there.

As of today, the Vols have four D-tackles and four D-ends in the Class of 2014, although one or two could eventually end up on offense. The Vols will lose only two D-linemen -- Jordan Williams and Greg Clark -- to graduation after the 2014 season (although of course there can and probably will be other attrition). That tells me they're in pretty decent shape on the D-line. The big question is how many of their ends grow into tackles. If they prefer to keep most of their ends on the outside, they may need to shore up the inside positions in 2015.

On the offensive line, UT has four prospects in the Class of 2014, and three of them are already here. That should put the Vols at 11 scholarship O-linemen in 2014, which is a few short of where they'd like to be. UT will lose only one senior (reserve Marques Pair) after 2014, but there will be a big wave of departures after 2015. So the Vols need to start developing this class and get to work on 2015 to keep up.

The good news is that UT already has verbal commitments from two big in-state tackles in the 2015 class -- Jack Jones and Zach Stewart -- so they're off to a strong start.
-- Evan

ewoodbery (staff) writes:

I've taken some more Twitter questions about the 2014 Class and answered them here: http://knoxblogs.com/evanseleven/tag/...

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features