One player does not make a recruiting class.
But missing out on one player can change the way an entire recruiting class is perceived.
Just look at the way the Vol’s 2013 recruiting class was perceived on National Signing Day when life-long Vol fan, Vonn Bell, chose Ohio State over the Tennessee Volunteers.
At the end of the day Bell wouldn’t have made the 2013 class, but the lack of his inclusion cast a dark shadow on Butch Jones’ first signing day.
Most fans chose to focus on Bell not committing to the Vols, instead of looking at the success the Vols ended up having.
Butch Jones and Tennessee managed to land notable recruits such as Joshua Dobbs, Marquez North and Jason Carr.
Not only did Tennessee sign those guys, they didn’t have a single player decommit.
Yet all of that was overshadowed on February 6, 2013 because one guy didn’t commit.
If Dillon Bates would’ve committed to Florida or Alabama last Wednesday night it would have, at least for a few weeks, seemingly undone all of the great things that Butch Jones had built during his first seven months in Knoxville.
Part of that has to do with the fact that Bates was the first player to announce his decision on television since Vonn Bell.
If Bates wouldn’t have committed to Tennessee, the public rejection from a “Vol legacy” would’ve stung — bad.
Even though Butch Jones has had incredible recruiting success so far with the Vols (Tennessee has a top 10 2014 recruiting class so far), missing on a “sure thing” like Bates would’ve erased all of the momentum Butch had going.
Which is very understandable.
Being a successful college football coach isn’t about a few small victories in the recruiting game, it’s about continued success in all aspects of the game.
Bates commitment is very important to Tennessee, but it’s no more important than Todd Kelly JR’s, Vic Wharton’s, or Neiko Creamer’s.
And when the Berry twins decide to commit, their decision will be viewed just as important.
Locking down these “Vol legacies”, and top in-state talent, has to be Jones’ number one priority, it’s an area where former coach Derek Dooley lacked. You have to wonder if Butch Jones was not Tennessee’s head coach, how many of these guys would’ve committed to Tennessee already? Or even committed at all?
College football is a grind. Dillon Bates commitment to Tennessee just goes to show that Butch Jones takes nothing for granted. It also keeps the momentum going on Rocky Top.
Vol fans may feel like the rug should be pulled out from under them at some point, much like it typically has been in recent years, but I truly believe Tennessee’s upward trend will continue until they’re consistently competing for SEC titles.
Dillon Bates is certainly one of the bricks needed to build that SEC championship contending foundation.
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