Tag Archives: Class of 2015

Jocquez Bruce commits to join Tennessee’s 2015 class

South-Doyle running back Jocquez Bruce during a Class 5A playoff game in 2013. (Paul Efird/News Sentinel)

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeJocquez Bruce, an athlete at South Doyle High School, has verbally committed to Tennessee after a standout performance in a camp this weekend.

Bruce, listed by 247Sports at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, could play receiver, cornerback or even running back at college. Bruce told 247Sports that he worked out at all three spots during his recent visit to UT but was being recruited primarily as a slot receiver.

Bruce is the 13th commitment and second receiver in Tennessee’s 2015 signing class.

In the 247Sports Composite ratings, Bruce is the 28th-ranked overall prospect in Tennessee and the 74th-ranked athlete prospect in the country.

Tennessee football adds DB Stephen Griffin to 2015 recruiting class

Stephen Griffin during a visit to Tennessee (photo by KNS partner GoVols247)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Charlotte defensive back Stephen Griffin, has verbally committed to Tennessee.

Griffin is listed at 6-foot-3 and 187 pounds on his 247Sports profile.

He’s listed as a safety or cornerback, although his apparent size — even as a 17-year-old — makes it seem more likely that he would end up at safety.

Griffin confirmed his commitment on his Twitter account.

Griffin also had recent offers from Michigan, Boston College and others. In addition to UT, he had recently visited Clemson, Duke and North Carolina.

He confirmed his UT commitment on his Twitter account.

Here’s a look at Tennessee’s 2015 commitment list, which now has nine prospects.

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How many players will the Vols sign in 2015? As Butch Jones says, it’s in ‘flux’

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeButch Jones told an audience Wednesday at the Knoxville Tipoff Club that the Vols would probably sign 18-22 players in the 2015 class.

But, he quickly added, that number is in “flux” and would remain so for some time.

At first, Jones’ estimate sounded like an underestimation — perhaps a diplomatic one given the Vols just brought in an estimated 32 players in 2014.

But upon further review, it seems likely that UT could sign a class with fewer than 25 prospects in 2015.

The first factor is how many players, if any, the Vols will push forward to 2015 from this class. That number could be zero, one or two, depending on who’s counting.

But let’s assume that doesn’t happen.

Scholarship status cannot always be determined with certainty, but my list has 14 current seniors out of 85 scholarship players.

So to carve out 25 slots for the 2015 class, the roster would have to undergo considerable attrition, with 11 of the 71 non-seniors (roughly 15 percent) moving on with their careers.

There will be attrition, of course, but counting on that much is probably a bit ambitious — at least for now. So Jones’ guess of 18-22 players is probably as good as any. The Vols already have seven verbal commitments in the 2015 class, which means they’re off to an early start.

On signees and scholarships: Important point to highlight from my earlier recruiting post

I’ve received a lot of feedback about my post on the Vols’ 2014 class, so I want to highlight something that I wrote in the story but apparently didn’t emphasize enough:

Signees and scholarships (i.e., initial counters) are two different things.

SEC rules limit signees; NCAA rules limit overall scholarships and initial counters.

The possible loophole I described is for the former; there is no loophole for the latter.

At the end of the day, the Vols — like any other team — can give no more than 25 initial counters in any year and have no more than 85 scholarship players overall. 

Under the hypothetical theory I floated in the story, the Vols could sign 35 players, but they would still have to cross the scholarship hurdle. (I outlined gray-shirting and blue-shirting as possibilities).

However, under this hypothetical scheme, coaches would have all summer to figure this out. They have the luxury of time to see who qualifies, who’s ready to play, who isn’t, etc. The best signees go on scholarship immediately. The rest can be gray-shirted (or whatever plan they have to push them onto the 2015 class).

Long story short: Signees are a January/February issue. Scholarships are a May/June/July issue.

Has Butch Jones found a recruiting loophole? Vols could use complex strategies to manage brimming class

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When Butch Jones met with the Knoxville Quarterback Club last week, he dropped a nugget of recruiting information that most wrote off as hyperbole.

“If we can find a way to sign 35, we’ll sign 35,” he said.

Was he exaggerating for effect?

Perhaps.

Or perhaps not.

As Tennessee’s list of verbal commitments continues to grow (it should be up to 34 if lineman Charles Mosley commits on Friday as expected), the Vols are contending with two limits.

One is the NCAA-imposed limit on scholarships. The other is the conference-imposed limit on signees.

There’s no loophole on NCAA scholarship limits. Teams can have only 85 total scholarship players, of whom no more than 25 can be “initial counters” in any given year. (There are some strategies to minimize the impact of the NCAA limits, which I discussed here. More on that in a second).

But is it possible that Tennessee’s staff has stumbled upon a loophole that would effectively allow the Vols to “over-sign” in a way that was common a few years ago but has largely been eliminated because of new rules?

Take a look at the text of the SEC rule limiting signees that went into effect Aug. 1, 2011 (emphasis added):

13.9.1 Letter of Intent – Limitation. Each SEC member institution is limited to signing 25 football prospective student-athletes to a National Letter of Intent, Conference financial aid agreement and/or institutional offer of athletics financial aid from December 1 through May 31st of each year. [Adopted 5/29/09; effective immediately; revised 6/3/11; effective August 1, 2011]

(Here’s a .pdf link if you want to peruse the SEC rules yourself.)

The dates are critical, because the SEC bylaw collides with a new NCAA rules interpretation that impacted this recruiting cycle. Academically eligible student-athletes who plan to enroll early (in January) are now allowed to sign aid agreements with universities as early as Aug. 1.

Tennessee had a flood of players sign aid agreements last month — perhaps a half-dozen players or more. Why is this significant? By the letter of the law, those players wouldn’t count against the SEC’s signing limit. They’re freebies, if you will.

Now, make no mistake: This loophole, if it’s real, doesn’t affect the scholarship limitations. But it would give Tennessee more flexibility than teams that haven’t yet discovered the loophole.

For example, let’s say five players sign aid agreements before Dec. 1, 2013, and enroll at UT in January.

UT can count back at least five scholarships against 2013 because that year’s class was under the 25-man limit. So that’s now 10 that wouldn’t count against the SEC signing limit.

Jones has said he wants to welcome 14 mid-year enrollees in January. If the Vols were able take 10 of those players “off the books” for the purposes of the SEC signing rule, they could sign another 21 players to traditional Letters of Intent in February.

Grand total? 35.

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