Everyone is talking about how bad things are at Tennessee, and everyone is questioning how Derek Dooley is doing things, including how he and his coaching staff recruit.
While many may not agree with some of his analogies, like comparing his team's woes to War World II, a lot of people, and maybe a lot of media, aren’t on his same mental level either.
It only takes a short look at the Vols current recruiting class to see some major differences from last year’s class.
For one this class is a lot further ahead on commitments than the 2010 class. Last year’s group only had 10 pledges at this time, and while the number isn’t the only difference, the key factor is that this class appears much more stable than last year’s class.
Recently another recruiting service called Tennessee’s recruiting efforts one of this season’s biggest disappointments. When I first heard that I wondered if former UT Recruiting Coordinator Ed Orgeron was now working as a recruiting analyst for that network.
I’m sure Coach O wouldn’t admit that Derek Dooley’s first full recruiting class is much further ahead than his class last year. It’s human nature to think you have produced a better product. Orgeron is no exception to the rule.
Out of last year’s class several early commitments never made it to the UT campus.
Several decided to go elsewhere after the coaching staff's abrupt departure in January and several were dropped for multiple reasons, including some off-the-field problems, etc.
Dooley’s first class currently has 18 commitments. There is a sense of stability with the majority of this class expecting to stay committed.
Dooley has addressed the Vols multiple needs on offense and defense, as the new head coach said earlier in the spring that Tennessee’s needs are everywhere when discussing the depth of this squad.
While this class isn’t rated overall as last year’s final 16th ranking, that number is probably a little low since several top prospects like John Brown never got eligible.
Many Vol fans are wondering how this class is going to finish up and it's very obvious that it is critical Dooley and his staff close strong.
Currently Tennessee has 18 commitments and is expected to sign 26 in this class with Eddrick Loften expected to be No. 27.
Here is the way I think this class will end up: I’m going to provide 13 names that I think will be found among the final eight pledges for this class.
Maurice Couch- Junior College defensive tackle from Garden City Community College, he committed to the Vols for about two hours before decommitting until he takes an official visit for the Ole Miss game.
Gabe Wright-High School defensive tackle from Georgia, a four-star prospect and many feel it’s down to Auburn and Tennessee with the Vols picking up a lot stock in the recent weeks. Wright was in attendance for the UT vs. Alabama game.
Mickey Johnson- High School defensive tackle from Louisiana, he earlier named UT his leader and backed off that when called by other schools' recruiting sites. Tennessee appears in good shape with the very talented Bayou lineman. He is also a four-star prospect.
DeAnthony Arnett- Big time playmaker that has liked Tennessee since his first visit to Rocky Top. A four-star prospect, many are saying the Vols are probably his leader and could become UT’s next commitment.
Antonio Richardson- The state’s top lineman, who currently is having a few academic issues. Appears he will forgo his senior season to transfer to another school to focus on his grades and to raise his GPA. Don’t panic. This may be the best situation for him to get eligible.
Cameron Clear- A big athletic four-star tight end, defensive end from the Memphis area. Tennessee has a great shot at landing this talented athlete.
Other prospects that UT has to choose from to finish off this class include Brendan Bigelow four-star running back, three-star linebacker Jaiari Dunnaway, JC Corner Kevin Spigner, JC offensive lineman Lamar Mady and in-state prospect and cornerback Derek King.