I want to talk to you today if you're one of the 34,000. Let me explain. Vol Historian Tom Mattingly shared with us on the air Tuesday that just north of 44,000 season tickets has been sold for the upcoming season. Tennessee used to sell 78,000 season tickets per year as surely as the sun sets in the west.
So, I want to talk to you today if you're not renewing your season tickets. Can I be as bold as to ask why not? Are you feeling the financial pinch of the economy? Have you found something better to do with your discretionary income? Are you tired of losing? Is the game day experience not what it once was? Is it a vote against Dooley? Does it not mean what it once did to you? Other? What gives?
Pretty underwhelming expectations for the Florida Gators for the upcoming season. Of the pre-season mags, it seems only Phil Steele is picking the Gators in the east. Link
Of course, just about everybody else is picking Georgia to win the east.
Pilot Rocky Top league is back again. Who do you like? Link
'X', presented by your local Knoxville area Smoothie King is back with a quick hit on the state of the state in Tennessee's recruiting. 'X' says it's all up in the air.
'Haven’t spoken out much on recruiting of late. To be honest, I would question any recruiting analyst that tells you they know how Tennessee's recruiting is faring as of June 14th, 2012. Honestly, none of us will know about the state of Tennessee's recruiting until about late October. The fate of recruiting really comes down to success on the football field this fall. Simple as that.
What I can tell you from the inside is that all fans should be proud of the newly assembled Tennessee coaching staff. I have said this before. This is a staff that seems to genuinely like being at Tennessee and enjoys working with one another. You could not say that about previous Tennessee coaching staffs under Coach Dooley.
I have questioned a few of the decisions made by this staff. Specifically, I think they could have held off taking a couple of commitments so early in the recruiting cycle. However, let’s give credit where credit is due. This staff has flat out been excellent at getting so many highly rated 2013 and 2014 prospects to campus for unofficial visits during the spring and early summer.It has been unprecedented! Not only has Tennessee gotten a number of prospects rated highly by the recruiting services to campus but more importantly Tennessee has gotten prospects to campus that are rated high on Tennessee's recruiting board. The other tidbit that shouldn’t be overlooked is a number of these kids are showing up on campus with their parents. Always a positive sign.
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Tennessee has gotten these prospects interested in the program and to campus despite the media portraying the Head Football Coach as being on one of the hottest seats in America. In addition you can bet your life that every football coach recruiting against Tennessee is using Coach Dooley's tenuous situation to their advantage and to Tennessee's disadvantage.
Despite this swirling around, Tennessee currently has 9, 2013 commitments and maybe poised to receive a few more before fall practice begins. My review of the current commitment list is, well, in a word "mixed". Without mentioning names(personally don't think it is fair to the prospects), I believe 5 of the commitments are excellent pickups, 2 of the commitments could become contributors before they leave campus (but I wouldn’t expect it to happen early for either one) , and I believe the other 2 may well get recruited over.
Through the end of the summer, expect Tennessee to pick up 3 maybe 4 new commitments. In my opinion, the most coveted prospects, those that can go to school anywhere and those Tennessee has to land to get Tennessee back to competing at the highest level in the SEC are simply going to wait and see how things play out .... (wins and losses). Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.
Here are a few potential recruiting developments I will be watching over the next few weeks.
Pursuit of a Quarterback. After his performance at camp earlier this week, Butler, North Carolina, quarterback prospect Riley Ferguson appears to have vaulted to the #1 prospect on Tennessee's board. Ferguson has good size frame, a big arm, a nice touch, and made all the throws at Tennessee's camp. Ferguson may wind up being the best quarterback prospect in North Carolina by the end of the football season kind of like Nathan Peterman did last year in Florida.
Speaking of Florida, the other quarterback prospects in play with Tennessee appear to be Florida kids. John O'Korn from St. Aquinas and Kurt Benkert from Cape Coral, Florida. Of the two, Tennessee prefers Benkert to O'Korn. It may get interesting if Benkert is ready to pull trigger late this week.
Think Jay Graham has made a difference? It has been too many years to count since Tennessee has been one of the top choices for so many highly ranked running back prospects. Jay Graham is not just an excellent running back coach. He is an excellent running back coach who is becoming an elite recruiter.
Consider where Tennessee stands with the following running back prospects.
Derrick Henry, former Georgia commitment, and one of the top running back/athletes in Florida has re-opened his recruitment. Tennessee and Alabama appear to be the favorites;
Alvin Kamara, a top running back prospect in Georgia appears to be down to Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. It doesn’t hurt Tennessee to have Kamara's former teammate Jason Croom on campus and another former teammate Ben Bradley as a defensive tackle target.
Tennessee is in the top three for all everything running back Derrick Green from Virginia. Clemson and Ohio State maybe a bit ahead of Tennessee for Green but Tennessee is growing on Green and his family; Tyshon Dye a Georgia prospect, who maybe the best of the bunch, is likely down to Tennessee and Clemson.
Tarean Folston from Cocoa Beach, Florida, appears to be down to Tennessee or Florida. Once one of these prospects commits to a school, you will start seeing the others fall into place. I think Tennessee tries to sign two running backs in this class but scholarships are tight and a numbers crunch may not allow two running backs to be signed.
Can local kicking specialist Jonathan King kick his way to a scholarship? X's forte is not that of evaluating kicking specialists. I will take it from an associate of mine who is a former SEC place kicking specialist. He thinks King is not only one of the best kicking prospects the Knoxville area has produced he believes King is one of the best he has seen in the Southeast in years.
A bigger question is will Tennessee be willing to tie up a fourth scholarship with a kicker.
Lastly, will top defensive targets like Jason Hatcher, Darius Latham, and Toby Johnson make return visits to campus between now and the beginning of preseason camp? All three of these prospects are high on Tennessee's recruiting board. Hatcher, a linebacker from Louisville, KY, was on campus a few weeks ago with his mother. Tennessee is one of Hatcher's top schools and may be his leader; Latham, a 6'5" 270 lb defensive end/lineman from Indianapolis, Indiana is down to Florida and Tennessee. Understand he plans to make a return visit to Tennessee with his family later this month; and, Toby Johnson, the #1 rated JUCO defensive tackle a from Hutchinson Community College, is expected back for another visit later this month.
Landing any of one of these defensive prospects would give Tennessee's recruiting a much needed shot in the arm.
I will shout back before July 4th.
When Brian Runge shows up to ump a game, good stuff happens. He served as the home plate umpire for Brian Humber's perfect game back in April. Link, Runge was working behind the plate during the Mariners' 6 pitcher combined no hitter last Friday. That's enough for a career, right? Well Runge was 3B ump for Matt Cain's perfect game last night! BTW, Runge is a third generation MLB umpire. Lots of history, right there.
RA Dickey is 10-1 and heading for an All Star berth. Did he throw a no hitter last night? Yes, no or maybe. Link
Can you imagine some folks tried to throw police off the trail of the Auburn killer using social media. Who would do this nut job's bidding? Link
'It was an open joke at Penn State not to drop the soap when Sandusky was around.' Can you imagine that? Link
Isn't anything sacred anymore? Lance Armstrong? Say it ain't so. Sure, he's unlikable. But a cheater too? Link
FISH Hospitality Pantries (a.k.a. Hospitality Pantries, Inc.) operates four pantries
in East, South, Northwest and West Knoxville. They currently provide food to more than 11,000 families every month.
FISH focuses on what more can be done to help ensure that everyone gets enough to eat.