Tennessee coach Butch Jones has shown that he can compete with the top Southeastern Conference programs on the recruiting trail.
Now he just needs to turn the Volunteers into a winner on the field as well.
One day after signing what was rated as a top-five class by multiple recruiting services, Jones understands much will be expected of this group. That much was evident Thursday as Jones spoke at recruiting celebrations in packed hotel ballrooms at Memphis and Nashville before accepting an award later in the day from the Tennessee Press Association as the state’s headliner of the year, given to the person or group who has generated the most positive news within the state over the previous year.
A year after showing up to the National Signing Day press conference looking exhausted and somewhat dejected, there was a different vibe from Tennessee’s coaches as they showed up for the 2014 version of the same press conference.
Who could blame them for wanting to express some of their excitement?
It wasn’t that they worked any less than last year, but 2014 had the results to back them up. After a rushed 2013 class ended up ranked in the 20s nationally by most recruiting services, coach Butch Jones and his staff landed a class lauded as one of the best in the nation – ranked in the top five by many – in 2014.
In total, 20 prospects ranked as a four-star or higher by at least one recruiting service and two five-stars signed in UT’s 32-man class.
From The Times Free Press
Nearly 14 months ago, Butch Jones stood before a throng of people inside the spacious locker room at Neyland Stadium and delivered a number of declarations regarding how he would revamp Tennessee’s ailing football program.
One particular statement required a firmer tone in the voice of the Volunteers’ new coach, hired earlier that December Friday from Cincinnati.
From ABC News (AP)
Meighan Simmons was sick. Her stomach hurt, her shot was off. Midway through the second half of Tennessee’s road game at Ole Miss on Thursday, she was 3 for 13 from the field.
“We considered just pulling her out,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said.
Good thing she didn’t
Simmons caught fire and hit three consecutive 3-pointers, ending an Ole Miss rally and sealing a 77-65 victory for the Volunteers.
“I knew that some way, somehow, I just had to keep shooting,” Simmons said. “My teammates and my coaches were pushing me to keep shooting.”