Unlike the past two seasons, Tennessee is struggling to recruit.

There are two major contributing factors.

For one, assistants and coordinators on Tennessee’s staff have been mentioned as candidates for jobs elsewhere. Former special teams coordinator Mark Elder recently accepted the head coaching job at Eastern Kentucky. And many news sources have speculated that receivers coach Zach Azzanni and defensive backs coach Willie Martinez are candidates for coordinator positions at Maryland and Miami, respectively.

Second, Tennessee coach Butch Jones also has fewer scholarships to offer than any other year during his tenure at Tennessee, which means he can’t be as aggressive on the recruiting trail as he was in previous years.

As a result, this year’s recruiting class will be judged differently. Instead of focusing on the number of recruits, 2016’s recruiting class should be evaluated based on the quality of recruits  and whether the Volunteers fill needs at safety and offensive line.

If the Vols can bring in Nigel Warrior — the fourth-best safety in the country — and Landon Dickerson — the seventh best offensive tackle in the country based on the 247Sports composite rankings — Tennessee’s 2016 recruiting class should be considered a big success.

But holding onto four-star DE Jonathan Kongbo — the highest-ranked, junior-college prospect in the country — is vital because he is the only defensive end committed to the Vols. Tennessee has also added depth at quarterback, cornerback and running back with its current commitments.

ASSESSING TENNESSEE’S 2016 CLASS

Current commits or enrollees: 15 (avg. star 3.47; last year 3.5)
Current big name targets: ATH Mecole Hardman Jr., OT Landon Dickerson, DT Derrick Brown, DE Jeffery Simmons, S Nigel Warrior
Biggest positions of need: S, OL, WR, DE
National/SEC rank: 21/8

NOTABLE COMMITS

NAT RANKPLAYERSTARPOSITIONHEIGHTWEIGHT
72Jarrett Gurarantano4DUAL QB6-4194
184Daniel Bituli4OLB6-4230
200Marquill Osborne4CB5-10175
268Carlin Fils-aime4RB5-11180