SDS will break down all 14 SEC schools and the challenges they face in recruiting, and how they overcome them. At the end, we’ll rank them in terms of who is set up best for success–based on factors like in-state talent, recent success on the field, fan expectations and the coaching situation. We will also give the school a ‘situation’ grade (A, B, C, D, F) in each category. Some states have an A-level volume of talent, others don’t … that’s how it will work. At the end of the series we’ll do a final overall ranking.
HOME STATE TALENT: “B” – The state of Tennessee is in the lower tier of producing talent–at least when compared to other SEC schools. Though there are gems that come from the state, like Jalen Hurd in February’s signing class, the state can’t support an SEC power by itself. The Volunteers must put down deep recruiting roots in Georgia, Florida and elsewhere.
RECENT SUCCESS: “B” – Two years ago, this would be a ‘C’, but there is a buzz about the program thanks to its recruiting successes and the energy around the staff. Also, even these young recruits aren’t so removed from Tennessee’s glory days that they don’t know that the Vols can post double-digit win totals every year if the program gets rolling.
FAN EXPECTATIONS: “A” – Obviously this can work both ways, but when Tennessee fans are fired up about how things are going–which they appear to be thanks to the amazing recruiting classes the Vols are assembling–the fan base can be a huge part of impressing recruits. When Rocky Top is truly rockin’, it is a sight to behold–and it’ll make quite an impression on a 17-year old blue chip prospect.
COACHING STABILITY: “A” – It looks really good right now with Butch Jones and his staff making quite an impression around SEC territory. He will be given some time to build this program back to the point where it was before the Kiffin-Dooley phase. Minus a 2-10 type of year, recruits will know that Jones will be around a few more years at the least. And recruits love this guy.
SUM IT UP: There’s no question Tennessee has to work harder than some of its SEC brethren. They can’t just sit back like Ohio State or the Texas schools and just hand pick their future roster, they have to dig and claw and fight to get stars onto their roster. But the Vols, over the years, have been able to execute this plan and became a ‘destination’ program. If they can keep the recruiting momentum going that they already have under Jones, things will get back to normal.
Editor’s note: Any reference to recruiting ratings in this series–team or individual–are to 247Sports.com’s industry composite ranking.