How good is Derek Dooley’s 2011 Recruiting Class?
That question will be asked for sometime by the Tennessee Vol fan base. While it won’t be possible to have a complete answer to that for at least a few months and most likely a couple of years, everyone will have their take on how Dooley and his staff performed in their first full season together as a coaching staff.
We at InsideTennessee.com will break down the class and give our take and thoughts on the situation.
In a two part series the next couple of days, we will give you our Recruiting Day Awards and our complete report card of all the positions.
Biggest Surprise of Signing Day 2011
One reason for the anti climatic day on National Signing Day were the announcements that were made on Monday and Tuesday nights. The biggest surprise could go to a couple of different prospects.
The biggest surprise would have to be Curt Maggitt.
The four star outside linebacker out of Florida had everyone guessing before it leaked out Tuesday night that he would be a Volunteer.
Maggitt took official visits to Alabama, Florida and Wisconsin, Miami made a late run after the Florida standout.
“Curt Maggitt was a huge surprise,” one recruiting expert shared. “Tennessee did a tremendous job getting him out of the state of Florida.”
Best Overall Recruitment of one prospect
This could go to several prospects and coaches but after long deliberation we chose Antonio Richardson.
Jim Chaney did an incredible job building a relationship with Richardson and his father Lanny Richardson.
If it hadn’t been for the solid foundation that he built for over a year, the Vols would have had a hard time holding off the late push of Georgia and Auburn.
What prospect filled the biggest need for the Volunteers?
This is actually an easy choice.
Thanks to the departure announcement of David Oku, made the running position a critical need for the Volunteers. With senior Tauren Poole, red shirt sophomore Toney Williams and true freshman Rajion Neal the need to pick up at least two running backs was important.
Marlin Lane, a longtime Clemson commit and four star running back out of Florida, is definitely the prospect that fills the biggest need.
Most Important Accomplishment of Derek Dooley in this class
Dooley did a better job securing the signatures of in state talent than any other coach in some time. He signed seven in state athletes. How important is this for the Vols? Very important. This coaching staff has set the foundation for building relationships with the high school coaches in the Volunteer State.
Athlete expected to make the biggest impact in the Class of 2011
This is a touch decision, so tough I had a three way tie.
I have to go with three different athletes here at three different positions. The first on offense is DeAnthony Arnett. The Vols has a desperate need for special team help, most specifically a punt and kick off return help. Arnett fills the bill there and is expected to compete for major playing time on an already solid receiving corp.
On the defensive side of the ball I have to go with one on the front line and one in the back end of the Vols defensive unit.
Both are junior college athletes and both have three years of eligibility. Junior college transfer Maurice Couch, a big defensive tackle. Couch will fill a big need for Tennessee for years to come. Expect an immediate impact from him at the nose tackle position.
Tennessee’s secondary needs immediate help, they got that when former USC Trojan Byron Moore signed with the Vols. Moore, who an Junior College All-American this past fall, has the chance to be one of the better players in the Vols defensive backfield in the last few seasons. That’s saying alot with the likes of Eric Berry and Janzen Jackson having very successful careers at UT.
Biggest over achiever in this class
You could say the most underated, but I would rather approach it from a different direction. I think there are several prospects that are under rated in this class. Who has the chance to make an impact and a surprise at the same time.
I think there are two guys that fit that this bill.
Linebacker Christian Harris is the first that comes to mind, the second is Tino Thomas. Both defenders will see a lot of action on the Vol’s special teams and will have a great opportunity to make a lot of noise this fall.
Biggest Position Upgrade
This could go to a couple of different position groups, the one that stands out he most is the pick up of five offensive linemen.
What was a weakness a year ago, won’t be a weakness for long, four starters coming back, including three true freshmen. Five new guys in this class, Antonio Richardson, Marcus Jackson, Allan Posey, Mack Crowder and Kyler Kerbyson will complete the solid foundation.
Biggest Miss in this class
This is also a two way tie. The loss of Kentucky linebacker Lamar Dawson and Georgia’s Gabe Wright definitely kept this class from being stellar and elite.