Deciphering Butch Jones’ formula to determine UT’s recruiting needs in 2014

Thumbnail image for butch-jones-presser2.JPGKNOXVILLE, TennesseeTennessee coach Butch Jones shed some light on his roster “formula” last week during his statewide post-Signing Day tour.

In a perfect world, he said, the Vols would have 15 of the 85 available scholarships devoted to offensive linemen, five for quarterbacks and 12 for wide receivers.

He didn’t expand on the other spots, and we didn’t have time to ask him. But we can make some educated guesses.

To get to 85 scholarships, I filled out the rest of the roster this way: Six running backs, five tight ends/H-backs, 13 defensive linemen, 12 linebackers, 15 defensive backs, one kicker and one punter. You can see all the positions under the “Goal” column of the spreadsheet.

Many teams, including Tennessee, have a second kicker or punter on scholarship. Others have a deep snapper. But it was impossible to make Jones’ numbers work by loading up on specialists.

I went heavy with defensive backs because nickel units are used so frequently now and DBs are valuable special teams players. Ideally, I might like to have another defensive lineman or two, but it’s tough to find a position to steal from. You could get away with fewer than 12 linebackers, I guess, but I wouldn’t want to go much lower than that. Have any better suggestions? Let me know. But remember, the receivers, quarterbacks and offensive line totals come from Butch’s figures — not mine.

Tennessee did a pretty adequate job of meeting its needs in the 2013 class. The Vols can add a few receivers next year, so that doesn’t stand out as a glaring weakness. If UT had signed Chongo Kondolo and Dan Skipper, coaches could have felt pretty good about the offensive line. Instead, that will be an area of focus in 2014.

What might a 2014 class look like, given the numbers?

If coaches adhere strictly to the formula, the Vols would try to load up on defensive players — six defensive linemen, six linebackers and four defensive backs. UT would also need six offensive linemen (preferably including a couple junior college players).

Coaches would also try to pick up two more receivers, a quarterback and a running back. They might add a second or even third running back in 2014, unless one of the youngsters on the current roster steps up and does something amazing this year.

This isn’t a perfect science, but it does give you a general idea of UT’s most pressing needs in 2014. Attrition could alter the outlook somewhat, but probably not dramatically. In fact, coaches will need to hold onto as many players as they can going into 2014, because replacing the large senior class will be daunting enough.

Questions? Comments? Talk to me by email or on  Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or Tumblr .

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