Bob Shoop isn’t just cooking up Tennessee’s defense. The Vols’ recently hired defensive coordinator will also be in charge of assembling the ingredients.
Shoop’s background makes him a perfect fit to recruit the mid-state area, which includes talent-rich Nashville. In fact, he’s already been assigned that duty.
“I think the mid-state has an abundance of talent,” Shoop said. “One of the things I’ve been charged with from the head coach and from the recruiting people is continuing to establish ties there and recruit the best players from the mid-state to this area.”
Shoop spent three seasons at Vanderbilt from 2011-13, so he knows the area around Nashville well. It’s a booming recruiting area for several reasons. First, the population of Nashville is exploding. Second, there’s an abundance of well-respected private schools that have athletes well prepared for the rigors of college.
Moreover, the area has once again developed a strong fan allegiance to Tennessee. That had slipped a bit when Vanderbilt excelled under former coach James Franklin while the Vols stumbled under former coach Derek Dooley.
“My familiarity from living in Nashville, you can’t help but recognize that Tennessee is a way of life down here,” Shoop said.
It doesn’t take a long gander at Tennessee’s roster to determine how impactful mid-state prospects have been on the Vols’ recent improvement. Running back Jalen Hurd, defensive end Derek Barnett, offensive lineman Jashon Robertson and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin have all had major contributions. Others, like receiver Josh Malone and defensive end Kyle Phillips, appear poised to continue the trend.
The Vols have had moderate success in the mid-state area this year. Tennessee has two current commitments from the area: linebacker Daniel Bituli from Christian High School (Nashville, Tenn.) and offensive tackle Ryan Johnson from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy.
The mid-state area doesn’t seem quite as strong for the 2016 class, but that won’t last long. The 2017 class is expected to be stout and there’s no reason that football talent in the area won’t continue to grow. Shoop, whose son attended Father Ryan High School (Nashville, Tenn.) is counting on his time spent at Vanderbilt to help him secure top talent for the Vols.
“Relationships and championships,” Shoop said. “Championships are built on relationships.”