— Butch Jones (@UTCoachJones) July 15, 2013
— Butch Jones (@UTCoachJones) July 22, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When they gave last week a name, you knew Tennessee coach Butch Jones wasn’t going to let it pass without any commitments.
In fact, there were six in a seven-day span, starting with Eric Lauderdale on July 14 and ending with Kevin Mouhon on Sunday night.
It’s fair to say #FoundationWeek, #FoundationDay and any other brick-related metaphors worked out OK. The Vols are now a consensus No. 1 in the team recruiting rankings (according to the 247Sports Composite).
With the six new additions, the Vols have an incredible 24 players who have verbally committed to sing in the Class of 2014, with still seven months to go until National Signing Day.
We think that the Vols can sign 29 or 30 players in this class. So that leaves precious little space to fill.
With that in mind, a few questions and answers….
1) How many will the Vols sign?
Just because they can sign 29 or 30, doesn’t mean they’re required to. The Vols had space for more in 2013, but opted to pass on some players to sign a big class in 2014. That said, we don’t know exactly how many scholarships are available because the math of “back-counting” can be tricky. But the consensus is 29 or 30.
2) What needs still must be met?
The line. I believe the Vols would probably like to get at least one more linemen on both sides of the ball, and perhaps more. A junior college player would also be a good fit. Beyond that, there are few pressing needs. Another linebacker wouldn’t hurt. And while it would be unusual to have three running backs in a class, the Vols’ depth at the position is unusually thin.
3) What needs has UT met?
Between the 2013 and 2014 classes, the Vols have successfully remade their receiving corps. They have five or six receivers in this class and while they could certainly add another, there is no longer a pressing need at the position.
If there is a no attrition in the current group of receivers, UT could have 17 or 18 (!) scholarship receivers in camp one year from now. That’s probably too many, which means some attrition or position changes are possible.
Butch Jones has a formula, but the receiver spot is one position where they didn’t go strictly by the numbers. Coaches believed the current group was not up to the SEC standard and they went looking for fresh bodies.
4) Will all these players stick around until National Signing Day?
One of the reasons I believe Jones and his staff are building this class so early is so that they can seize the momentum now before the challenging season hits.
Now instead of working to build a class during what could be a tough season, the Vols will get to play defense, protecting the commitments they’ve already gained and the relationships they’ve already built.
Regardless of whether the Vols go 4-8 or 8-4, rivals may pressure some UT commitments to flip in December and January. It happens every year, at every school. Some will probably take visits elsewhere. But I think Jones and his staff have built a solid foundation (hash tag!) with most of the recruits that can withstand even a rough year.
It’s also worth noting that if some of the commitments have a bad year, get suspended, do poorly in school, etc., the Vols could drop them and move on to someone else. That also happens nearly every year at every school.
5) Will the Vols have a top-ranked class?
The people who know more than I do on such matters tell me that it’s unlikely that the Vols will finish at No. 1, their current spot. Most services take the top 20 players in a class, and schools like Alabama and perhaps Texas A&M will likely end up with more five-stars to push ahead.
However, a top-10 finish seems all but certain if the class stays together and many believe a top-5 finish is very likely.
For comparison, UT was No. 24 in 2013, No. 20 in 2012, No. 14 in 2011, No. 8 in 2010, No. 7 in 2009.