The day Tennessee football coach Butch Jones and his staff have been waiting for nearly a year has finally come and gone, and what it has left is one of the best signing classes since the Phillip Fulmer days in the mid-2000’s.
Tennessee ended their signing day early, and with little drama, while still landing a top five class according to multiple recruiting outlets.
Included in the 31 man class are 10 in-state talents, two five-stars (Jalen Hurd and Josh Malone, who are both Tennessee natives), 16 four-stars, and 13 three-stars to complete the class according to Rivals.
Some of the biggest gets for the Vols came in the trenches on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Tennessee lost their entire starting offensive and defensive line at the conclusion of the 2013 season, so beefing back up on the front-line was a top priority for Jones and his staff, as well as building overall depth.
The Vols signed six confirmed defensive lineman, including four-star, in-state defensive tackle Michael Sawyers, who flipped his commitment to Tennessee from Vanderbilt after the departure of former Commodore head coach James Franklin.
Jones also placed an emphasis on taking back the state of Tennessee, but keeping those who had already come and gone through the program in the past around. That alone may have benefited this class tremendously, because it led to the signing of the “legacy class.”
The legacy class refers to the sons of former Vols throughout history. Tennessee signed six legacy members to the 2014 class, two of which already resided within the state territory Jones is determined to take back. Dillon Bates, Todd Kelly Jr, Vic Wharton (the first commitment of this class), Neiko Creamer, Elliot and Evan (the twins) Berry all make up the Vols legacy class.
When asked how much of an impact this class could have for the upcoming season Jones was not bashful to say any one of them could start right away.
Despite signing 31 solid newcomers, Tennessee will still see some obvious depth issues as they did a year ago, and Jones made sure to reiterate that one class does not make a team. However, if he can continue to recruit as ruthlessly as he has over the past year and continue to bring in solid classes, he just may accomplish his goal of restoring Tennessee football back to the glory it once saw.
Now that signing day 2014 is in the books we can shift our focus away from recruiting, though, right? Wrong!
Especially true for Jones, recruiting never stops, and he already has seven players committed to the 2015 class, four of which are four-star athletes. Additionally, four of them are in-state talents.