Tennessee is arguably one of the hottest teams on the recruiting trail right now. Butch Jones and company have received 10 commitments thus far, and it’s only April. The Vols are ranked fourth in the nation in recruiting according to Rivals and four of their commits are ranked in the Rivals top 150.
You would think that most Vol fans would be ecstatic with this haul after 3 straight losing seasons, right? Well, with only one of those commits being a lineman (Coleman Thomas), fans are asking, “Where’s the beef?”.
Fans and sports talk radio hosts are saying that Butch Jones will not have success if he can’t land some big time lineman. Everyone knows that games in the SEC are won in the trenches. Teams have to be able to control the line of scrimmage by being able to run the ball well, and just as important, stop the run on defense.
While it’s exciting to see so many talented skill-position players committing to UT, fans want to see Coach Jones bring in the next Albert Haynesworth, Aaron Sears, Tiny Richardson, etc. No need to worry Vol fans. Coach Jones has his eye on many talented OL/DL prospects and here are a few that have a strong mutual interest:
Orlando Brown is a very talented offensive tackle who has 33 offers, 11 0f which are from SEC schools, and is a 3-star prospect according to 247 Sports. It’s surprising that all recruiting services have him as a 3-star considering his impressive offer list. His announcement date is May 2nd and his top 3 are Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. The newly created “Crystal Ball” prediction on 247 Sports had Brown choosing Tennessee.
Alex Bars is a Tennessee native who is a 4-star prospect with 24 offers according to Rivals. He most recently attended the Vols junior day on March 16th and he was present for last year’s Florida game. Unfortunately, for the Vols, he is a Notre Dame legacy and he has many connections to Big 10 schools. All three of his “Crystal Ball” predictions have him choosing Michigan. He does not have a planned announcement date
Coach Jones will likely venture into the JUCO ranks for some offensive line help as well, considering all of this year’s O-line could be entering the draft after next season. Dontavius Blair and Chad Mavety are two names to keep an eye on. Both are 4-star offensive tackles with numerous offers and are in the top 5 for JUCO prospects according to 247 Sports.
Now let’s take a look at the D-line, which will also be a question after next year:
Derek Barnett is also a Tennessee native that is a 4-star defensive end with offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, and others according to 247 Sports. Tennessee and Vanderbilt seem to be the leaders for Barnett’s services.
Poona Ford, a 4-star defensive tackle according to 247 Sports, named the Vols his leader after the Orange and White game, but he is a South Carolina native and he has South Carolina high on his list. He would fit nicely into John Jancek’s 4-3 defense and would fill a huge need for the Vols. All six “Crystal Ball” predictions have him going to play for the Gamecocks. He also has notable offers from Ohio State, Ole Miss, and Arkansas.
Dewayne Hendrix, consensus 4-star defensive end, also named the Vols his leader after the Orange and White game. He has notable offers from Florida, USC, and Ohio State. All “Crystal Ball” predictions have him choosing the Vols.
These are just a few of the talented lineman that Butch Jones is targeting, and many of these recruits have Tennessee high on their list. Some Vol fans need to realize that it is only April and National Signing Day is a long ways away. Coach Jones will likely have plenty of talented lineman to join the already impressive list of commits for 2014.