Tennessee has a big hole to fill after defensive coordinator John Jancek and the Vols decided to part ways on Wednesday.
Jancek’s departure not only affects Tennessee on the field, but in recruiting as well. Although the Vols utilize a recruiting tactic that involves more than one recruiter, some prospects were clearly taken aback by Jancek’s abrupt and unexpected departure.
Linebacker Ja’Quain Blakely from Colquitt County High School (Moultrie, Ga.) never saw it coming.
“Very surprised,” the three-star prospect told SEC Country. “Very surprised to hear that. The defense was decent. He had a decent year. We weren’t ranked in the top ten or anything but they were good and had a good year.”
Given his history as a UGA coach, Jancek spent much of his time recruiting the Peach State. That means he was the primary recruiter for Blakely and Marquez Callaway, a four-star athlete prospect from Warner Robins (Ga.) High School. Callaway has gotten used to the recent coaching turnover, especially in the southeast.
“I do look into it because most of the time, that’s the people who are recruiting me,” Callaway said. “If they leave, a new person steps in but I’ve already bonded and had more of a connection with the coach they let go, so to go from one coach to another coach, you have to do it but you don’t want to do it throughout your recruitment.”
Tennessee’s approach to recruiting may make it easier to overcome a late, significant coaching change. The Vols
pride themselves on recruiting as a group. The area recruiter, the position coach, the coordinator and even head coach Butch Jones are often involved after the initial stages.
“I’m going to miss him but that’s the reality of coaching football,” Tennessee tight end commitment Austin Pope from Christian Academy (Knoxville, Tenn.) said. “He was one of the first coaches that I came in contact with but as time went on I talked to coach (Mike) Debord, coach (Mark) Elder and coach Jones the most.”
“I have a lot of relationships with coaches at Tennessee but knowing that he’s leaving, they’re going to have to find someone to replace him,” he said. “So if I do go to Tennessee, I’m going to have to build a relationship with a coach I don’t know much about.”