Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee’s current staff hitting the recruiting trail.
Impact from Sunday
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Sunday was a wild day on Rocky Top that will be surely be talked about for years to come. Tennessee fans were sent into an uproar when USA Today’ Dan Wolken reported Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was close to a deal with the Vols. The Twitter backlash was swift and immediate.
The day ended with a protest of the hiring and athletic director John Currie outside the Anderson Center football facility. Tennessee fans were upset with Schiano’s name being linked to the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State.
Some national media members had a backlash toward the protests, claiming the protests were more related to Schiano’s 68-67 record at Rutgers.
Yeah, this about sums it up. Tennessee fans hated the idea of hiring Greg Schiano for football reasons, then latched on to something other than football to justify their hatred. And now they're just lying to themselves about it. https://t.co/atxbrq0Aag
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) November 27, 2017
The Tennessee brand today was damaged within the coaching and college athletics profession in a way I’m not sure people in Knoxville truly understand.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 27, 2017
I’ve gotten questions about how this will affect how recruits look at the school. I don’t think too much, especially in classes beyond the 2018 cycle. I think this will stick as a national narrative for a little while, but 16-year-old prospect won’t pay much attention to it.
If anything, the new coaching staff will have a chance to spin this as a positive of a wildly passionate fan base.
Brady Hoke on the trail
Tennessee interim coach Brady Hoke said after Saturday’s 42-24 loss to Vanderbilt his priorities will immediately shift to the players and recruiting.
“Number one, I want to make sure the guys who are coming back, we are there for them,” Hoke said. “We stay on them from an academic standpoint, social standpoint. Secondly, the staff itself. If I can help any of them, I want to be able to do that. Third thing is recruiting. So, we are going to be hitting the road.”
The job became even more important after everything that came out of Knoxville on Sunday. Hoke is going to have reassure the commits that the administration is still worth believing in. The protest had a number of ‘fire Currie’ chants on Sunday. Some fans have lost faith in the leadership, Hoke must make sure the commits and prospects do not.
“The lifeblood of any program is your recruiting,” Hoke said. “Not just from skill-wise, but you want to recruit guys that you want in the program from a character standpoint. That’s always important. I think overall, the recruiting end is the lifeblood and the state of Tennessee high school football has grown and gotten better. That part is first. Whoever comes in will have to evaluate where we are at with different positions.”
Hoke said there are plenty of positives to Tennessee and recruiting to the school is what he is trying to do.
“I think Rocky Top, we’ve got a lot to sell,” Hoke said. “Kind of what I said. The city of Knoxville, the tradition that Tennessee has in football. I think those things are important. I think the relationships with people are always part of it. Most kids pick a school because of the school”
I don’t know how much I believe him. I think prospects commit to the coaches about as often as they commit to the schools. However, this is the right message he needs to be hammered on the trail.
Tennessee has to be moving quickly toward a new hire, though. Every day, the early signing period on Dec. 20 gets closer and closer. The new staff having less than a month to build relationships will be a tough job.
Jaycee Horn de-commits
Lost in the shuffle of the news Sunday was the Vols lost a commitment from cornerback Jaycee Horn.
This bumps Tennessee’s total commitment list down to 15. There were 23 in the fold before October. The downward spiral of the season coupled with the firing of Butch Jones has gutted what was once the best class in the SEC.
Horn is probably gone for good, too. Tennessee only has one cornerback commit now in Brandon Cross.
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