Tag Archives: Todd Kelly

Recruiting on the river: Sunday morning boating has become staple of Vols’ weekend visits

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The gorgeous photo of Knoxville and Neyland Stadium is courtesy Vols receiver coach Zach Azzanni‘s Instagram account.

He has all the basics of photography down pat — good lighting, good framing. He didn’t go crazy with filters. He held the camera the right way. Thumbs up.

The photos from the Tennessee River you often see on Sunday mornings are from morning boat cruises that the Vols arrange as a finale for weekend recruiting visits.

The boat tours offer a way for coaches and players and families to hang out in an informal setting while getting a scenic view of Knoxville. It’s become a tradition of sorts under coach Butch Jones.

The weather can play havoc with the plans in the winter. On Sunday, as the photos illustrate, there was a one-day reprieve from the cold. It was sunny and brilliant, with a high of 51 degrees.

The Vols were scheduled to have five verbal commitments take official visits this weekend: Derek Barnett, Jerome Dews, RaShaan Gaulden, Todd Kelly and Vic Wharton.

Running back Darrel Williams was also scheduled to be in town, as the Vols are seeking to add another running back to their class.

Photo publicly posted by Vic Wharton (No. 4, to right of Butch Jones) this weekend. https://twitter.com/vwharton4

Tennessee football position preview: Defensive backs will face fresh competition for jobs

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The eighth in a series of position-by-position reviews of the Tennessee football team with an eye toward the start of spring practice in March.

Justin Coleman warms up before the Kentucky game (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee is returning all of its starters and more than 90 percent of its snaps at defensive back in 2014, which might normally be construed as good news.

But as the Vols’ defense has struggled at times over the last two years, the defensive backs have taken a heavy load of the blame.

While not all that criticism was fair, Tennessee’s lack of speed and depth were factors at times in 2013. That should ensure that no one’s job is safe in 2014.

Well, almost no one.

Cameron Sutton, who played a team-high 746 snaps on defense as a true freshman in 2013, can probably be safely penciled in as one of the cornerbacks.

Justin Coleman could be an option to shift to nickel if the Vols’ can find another Sutton waiting to blossom among their crop of new players.

Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil could also face added competition. At the very least, all the starters should have backups that coaches feel more comfortable giving playing time.

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A look at Tennessee recruiting at midpoint of 2013 season

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The recruiting class committed in August is rarely the same one that signs in February, and the defection of a prospect this week is the first sign of it.

The Vols seem to have lost junior college receiver Eric Lauderdale, a Georgia native now playing juco ball in California.

Lauderdale had just picked up an offer from Florida and is intrigued by the prospect of being a Gator. Tennessee has four committed receivers in its 2014 signing class and is likely to add at least one more, so Lauderdale’s departure won’t hurt from a numbers standpoint. Whether the Vols miss his future production won’t known for years, as is often the case in recruiting.

The Vols are coming off a big recruiting weekend, are at the midpoint of the 2013 season and finally get a break on Saturday. So it’s a good time to review the Vols’ 2014 recruiting outlook.

Who’s in the fold: The Vols have 24 verbal commitments. They can sign 29 — I think — by “back-counting” some early enrollees.

Running back Jalen Hurd is the prize of the class and the only consensus five-star, although safety Todd Kelly and linebacker Dillon Bates are very close to that designation.

See the sheet above for the full list of commitments.

Where are they from? Interestingly, the geographic midpoint of the 2014 class sits in Ten Mile, Tenn., only about 45 miles southwest of Neyland Stadium. So the geographic diversity of the class is spread fairly evenly.

Five of the commitments are from Tennessee; five are from Georgia; Texas, Florida, Ohio and Maryland have two each.

What do they play? In keeping with Butch Jones’ goal of increasing the team’s overall speed, many of the prospects fall into the “athlete” category, so there’s some flexibility in their college position.

Using our best guess, there are five linebackers, five defensive backs and four receivers, two running backs, two tight ends, three offensive linemen and two defensive linemen. And a kicker.

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What do the Vols still need? To answer this question, I broke the usual “roster needs” chart into deeper categories. The “goal” in the first column is flexible and not meant to be set in stone. But it provides a good ballpark estimate.

This chart also includes a “new column” for non-contributors. This is for players who, because of injuries or other reasons, seem unlikely to break into the playing rotation in the future.

The chart shows only one pressing need left for the Vols’ 2014 class — defensive tackle. UT might also like to snag another offensive lineman.

So who’s still on the board? Lots of players. Even though there are officially only five spots left in the class, plenty can change in four months. Here are a few names to watch:

Four-star defensive tackle Charles Mosely of Brighton visited Knoxville this weekend and would be an important addition to the class.

Another in-state prospect, Josh Malone of Gallatin, is an elite receiver prospect. He visited Knoxville this weekend, too.

Twins Evan and Elliott Berry — would provide a boost in the secondary.

Tennessee’s 2014 class gets 3 commitments in 3 days, including 4-star Todd Kelly

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s 2014 recruiting class grew over the weekend, adding commitments from offensive lineman Coleman Thomas, defensive back Todd Kelly Jr. and receiver Neiko Creamer.

Kelly and Creamer are both Tennessee legacies, sons of defensive end Todd Kelly and cornerback Andre Creamer, respectively.

In that sense, Tennessee was expected to get both players. But to get them this early, and in doing so generate positive momentum for Butch Jones’ first full recruiting class, was especially important.

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