Tennessee coach Butch Jones didn’t know exactly how Wednesday’s National Signing Day was going to go, but he knew how he’d approach it.
“We were going to swing the bat,” Jones said during a press conference following the completion of the Vols’ class, which is ranked No. 14 in the nation.
Jones said his coaching staff was determined to add speed and athleticism to a class that is short on available scholarships. The Vols signed just 21 players so they needed to close strong. They did so with late commitments and eventual signings from defensive back Tyler Byrd, wide receiver Latrell Williams, defensive back Nigel Warrior and defensive end Jonathan Kongbo. All made their decisions public on or just before National Signing Day. The Vols also picked up a commitment from receiver Marquez Callaway on Jan. 21.
“Indescribable,” Jones said when asked what he felt about the recent commitments.. “It’s been an around-the-clock process. We’ve had very few hours of sleep. ”
Like many SEC schools, the Vols had to overcome coaching changes just prior to National Signing Day. Tennessee replaced tight end/special teams coach Mark Elder with former Miami coach Larry Scott and former defensive coordinator John Jancek was replaced by Penn State’s Bob Shoop. It all seemed to jell rather quickly.
“You really have to forge and develop those relationships,” Jones said. “They did a tremendous job.”
The Vols used a different recruiting pitch this year than they had in the past. After selling early playing time for most of his time at Tennessee, Jones this year sold relationships. And it worked.
“Our challenge was to finish strong,” Jones said. “We thought we had a great nucleus in this recruiting class already intact. Now, if we could add to that, we wanted to do that and we set forth.”
Until Wednesday, however, nothing was settled.
“This class went right down to the wire,” Jones said. “We just had that workman-like approach. Our players had a hand in that and this staff has done a tremendous job.”
All player ranking and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.