The loss of prized running back David Oku
is a major hit seeing the scintillating skill set he exhibits, and the Vols' desperate need for playmakers with home run potential. The fact it comes on the heels of four-star running back Jarvis Giles
' de-commitment makes it particularly damaging.
Although Oku attributed his change of status to coaching changes he hinted it had more to do with the change of direction from a tailback oriented offense to "the spread." Since a coach hasn't been named or a short list ever published there is reason to wonder if his conclusion was based more on uncertainty around the program and impatience with a selection process that is inherently slow due constraints caused by the season in progress.
Either way it makes Fulmer's successor's job a little bit tougher. Presumably, whomever that might be, he will make an effort to call on Oku and present his case. Oku's already sold on the school. Plus there's not many places you can go and not find some version of the spread offense within the framework on the system.
The Vols also lost safety/linebacker prospect E.J. Swearinger, 5-11, 196, 4.55 out of Greenwood, S.C. to South Carolina
. He reopened the recruiting process recently and declared for South Carolina on Sunday evening. Swearinger is rated a two-star prospect by Scout.com and ranked No. 172 nationally at his position. He would have probably played linebacker at Tennessee
The loss of Oku dropped UT's class to 16, counting Marlon Walls who signed in the 2008 class but is doing a term at Hargrave this fall. Besides Giles, Oku, Swearinger, the Vols have lost offensive lineman Antonio Foster and fullback Dominique Allen. Several other Vols prospects in the class are looking at other schools and the toll is likely to grow along with the wait for a new Tennessee head football coach.
With the end of the Phillip Fulmer era only five days away there is a corresponding reminder of what he has meant to the program as a remarkable recruiter in the current deconstruction of UT's Class of 2009, which he's largely responsible for building to the point that it just needed to be topped off with a couple of crown jewels to be among the nation's elite.