After missing a bowl game for the third consecutive season, most programs would be happy with just a top 25 class. Not Tennessee. On Christmas day 2012, Vic Wharton got the 2014 recruiting class kicked off for the Vols. The 4* athlete not only committed to play for Butch Jones and the University of Tennessee, but he also had a big hand in helping recruit the rest of the class along with Todd Kelly Jr., Jalen Hurd, and others.
“The process started with Vic Wharton…We challenged him to champion this recruiting class.” Jones said about starting the class.
Dubbed the Legacy Class, the 2014 class is full of players with UT bloodlines. Wharton, Kelly Jr., Dillon Bates, Neiko Creamer, Evan and Elliot Berry, and Josh Malone all have family ties to the UT athletic program. Family is what Butch Jones has preached to prospective recruits, as by all accounts this is a very close-knit group of signees. “This is the closest knit group I have ever been associated with in recruiting.” Jones said.
“We want individuals that really understand what it is to play at the University of Tennessee, that storied tradition. But also that competitive nature that they want to help build Tennessee football back to the brand that we know it is.” Jones said. “We wanted individuals with an affinity and a passion for the University of Tennessee.”
Jones and his staff put together a very well rounded class and the only position they did not sign a player at was quarterback. However, with Sophomore Joshua Dobbs and redshirt Freshman Riley Ferguson in the fold, a quarterback was not a necessity in 2014. With the entire starting offensive and defensive line units from the 2013 season gone, the Tennessee staff was able to address the glaring need effectively as well as bring in quality depth in the secondary and linebacker positions. “We needed to create depth and we needed to create competition and we needed to improve our overall team speed…I think we were able to address our immediate needs.” Jones stated.
With 14 early enrollees already on campus and getting ready for spring practice, 18 more signed National Letters of Intent to play football for the Vols in 2014. With a total of 32 signees in 2014, the Vols are definitely rebuilding the talent in the program with a top-5 class.
“The competitive nature of our football program just changed.” Jones stated.
The slogan Butch Jones has used in recruiting is “Brick-by-Brick,” believing that you must have a strong foundation in building a program. Undoubtedly, the 2014 recruiting class has strengthened that foundation.
Jones explained how recruiting is a non-stop grind. “We’re not going to improve all of our deficiencies in one recruiting class…It’s on to ’15 and on to ’16. It’s never ending.”
Tags: Tennessee Volunteers