Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly mailbag, a question-and-answer forum between readers and Tennessee team and recruiting reporter Blake Morgan.
In this edition, we discuss the timing that goes into a coaching change, if this week was an overreaction and what Adrian Martinez might do with a coaching change.
To submit a question for Blake, send a message to @BlakeMorganSEC on Twitter or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
@blakemorganSEC If they move away from CBJ, when would be the best time and do you think it would be better or worse for recruiting
— Still a VOL (@Georgia_VOL) October 4, 2017
In terms of recruiting, the earlier Tennessee fired Butch Jones the better, if the university did indeed want to go another route with its coach. Waiting a month or two to do it wouldn’t really help the recruiting class.
Don’t forget, this year is the first of the NCAA’s new early signing period for high school football — Dec. 20-23. The typical signing period then begins on Feb. 7.
This early signing period might push some athletic directors to pull the trigger on coaching changes earlier than normal. If nothing else, a high school prospect would at least know a new coach is coming to the school and any uncertainty about the previous coach’s job security would be removed before the prospect makes a decision.
I think the Class of 2018 would be better if Jones stuck around another year, rather than Tennessee bringing in a new coach. The Vols have commitments from 23 prospects in the cycle right now. Even if things get really bad, Tennessee won’t lose all of those commitments.
Some commits have already opened up their commitment to explore other schools, but there has yet to be a de-commitment from the 2018 class during this football season. There is a lot of smoke, but not much fire to this point.
I think the class will ultimately stabilize and the Vols will finish at worst with a top-15 class unless everything starts to fall apart (which I don’t think is likely). Ten recruits have reaffirmed their commitment, including Jaycee Horn, Trey Dean and Greg Emerson. Those are three 4-star prospects who give the Vols a solid floor for the recruiting class.
If a change is made, then of course who is hired as a replacement and how quickly they can begin recruiting become key. Could Chip Kelly walk in and immediately have some of the top athletes in the country interested in playing in his system? Absolutely.
Would another name floating around the rumor mills — such as Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente — come in and piece together a better class than Jones? I really doubt it.
Are the wheels falling off for this class? Or just an overreaction from the fanbase? Did Mays actually decommit? Or are those just rumors?
— Alex Townshend (@1AlexTownshend) October 4, 2017
It certainly looked like things were falling apart earlier in the week. Jatavious Harris and Brendon Harris, no relation, both tweeted they were opening their recruitments to other schools. It’s important to note they still consider themselves committed to the Vols, but they do want to see what other options are out there.
While it might seem like everything was flying off the handle, there haven’t been any public de-commitments to this point.
So for now it is probably a little bit of an overreaction. But there is still potential for things to go south.
The rumor going around is Cade Mays is opening up his recruitment and talking to other schools. I haven’t talked with Mays, and he hasn’t made an announcement either way.
But Mays has taken every reference of Tennessee out of his bio on Twitter which seems to suggest there might be some truth to the rumor.
I think it is very possible Mays might look around, just like as other prospects are. I highly doubt, however, that if he is looking around, the Vols wouldn’t have a chance to still win him over.
What are the odds we land Adrian Martinez even with firing Lyle? (Tyler Tidwell – Facebook)
I think if Tennessee fired Jones it would still have a good shot at landing 2018 quarterback commit Adrian Martinez.
Martinez attended his first game in Neyland Stadium last weekend — and what a rough game to watch on an inaugural visit. For those who forgot (or are trying to), the Vols suffered their worst loss in the history of the stadium, 41-0 to Georgia.
But despite the horrible loss, Martinez tweeted the following:
I am so blessed to be apart of the Tennessee football family. Thank you to everyone who made this weekend great! #VFL 🍊
— Adrian Martinez (@MartinezTheQB) October 1, 2017
Martinez seems very content with the Vols and, while he is fully behind Jones, if there was a change I think he would certainly keep the door open for Tennessee.
It would likely come down to Tennessee’s new coach and what kind of fit a dual-threat quarterback such as Martinez would be in the new system. With the way college football is now, it is easier to fit a dual-threat quarterback into systems, so I don’t think that would be much of an issue.
It’s worth mentioning that Martinez has a shoulder injury and will not play at all his senior season. I think this helps Tennessee out a lot because any film on him will be more than a year old if he did look elsewhere.
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