KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Butch Jones made national headlines on National Signing Day in February when he proclaimed his desire to recruit players with high character and a competitive nature.
It sounds like a simple philosophy, but for some reason when Jones used the “5-star hearts” phrase, it prompted ridicule.
“Everyone gets into the 2-star, 3-star, 4-star, 5-star thing,” Jones said. “We want 5-star hearts and 5-star competitors.”
Tennessee’s incoming class ranked 17th in the nation, but to this point in fall camp, it appears Jones got exactly what he wanted from a character and competitive standpoint.
Jauan Jennings, arguably the toughest player on the team and one of the most respected, provided some telling insight into Tennessee’s 2017 class to SEC Country.
“They are coming in with a whole new attitude to make sure we’re on the edge,” Jennings said. “These freshmen have brought straight fire to the table. That’s something a little different. These guys are not afraid and they’re aiming high.”
Freshmen such as guard Trey Smith, tight end LaTrell Bumphus, defensive linemen Matthew Butler and Deandre Johnson, and tailbacks Ty Chandler and Timmy Jordan, all figure to play key reps.
Further, Jones’ approach to recruiting seems to be working for players and parents, as Tennessee currently has the No. 1-ranked 2018 class of commits among SEC teams.
Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discussed the impact the 2017 class seems to be having on Tennessee’s Team 121 in fall drills in our podcast.