Butch Jones has laid the foundation for a winning program since arriving at Tennessee in December 2012. The second-year coach is responsible for a top-5 recruiting class in 2014, despite coming off a 5-7 record the previous season.

The Vols success on the recruiting trail has stemmed from an increase in in-state talent. Five in-state high school prospects ranked in the 247Sports top-247, with four committing to Tennessee. Three of the four were from the Nashville area, which has become a growing hotbed for prep talent in recent years.

Jalen Hurd (Beech) and Josh Malone (Station Camp) played for rival high schools in Sumner County, a suburban area north of metropolitan Nashville. Derek Barnett (Brentwood Academy) was also a standout in Division II AA. In total, the Vols signed seven players from the Middle Tennessee area.

Hurd and Barnett were the best players on each side of the football for Tennessee in 2014, despite entering the season with no prior experience. Hurd led the Vols with 777 yards and three touchdowns on 174 rushing attempts. Barnett set freshmen records with 10 sacks and a team-best 20.5 tackles for loss.

Tennessee is continuing its focus on the Middle Tennessee area with five commits for the 2015 class. The talent in Nashville and the neighboring areas will prove to be the foundation for the Vols “brick by brick” rebuilding process.

Several players have already stood out as proven starters, while others have a high ceiling for potential. Tennessee has the talent to achieve its goal of restoring glory, thanks to Jones’ ability to lock down Middle Tennessee recruits.