'X's Projected 2014 UT Depth Chart
- Ferguson, Worley or QB not currently on campus. (Not convinced Tennessee is finished looking here). Each off-season, there always seems to be a QB that transfers and is immediately eligible to play. I think Ferguson, though he didnít play a down last season, is the odds on favorite to be the QB against Utah State.
- Jalen Hurd, Marlin Lane, Justus Pickett
. Here's hoping Marlin Lane has a positive off season and is part of the running back rotation in 2014.
I donít look for the other running backs on roster last season to be much of a factor going forward. Commitment Treyvon Paulk will likely miss 2014 rehabbing his knee. Key is to sign one more running back in the 2014 recruiting class.
- Marquez North, LaVon Pearson Jason Croom
-Josh Malone, LaVon Pearson, Josh Smith
- LaVon Pearson, Vic Wharton, Ryan Jenkins, Pig Howard
With Josh Malone picking Tennessee, done deal. He's starting opposite North. Put it in stone.
Pearson , a JUCO who should on campus in January, is a versatile receiver who will play both wide out and in the slot . Wharton is dynamic and like Jenkins will have every opportunity to play early next season. Personally, not sold on Pig Howard as what Tennessee needs in the slot.
- Ethan Wolfe, Daniel Helm, Brendan Downs. Wolfe and Helm are January enrollees and should give Tennessee a down field threat from the tight end position they did not have last season.
Helm will become a match up problem for defenses over time. Wolfe is a big, physically imposing prospect who should give Tennessee a shot to block off the edge something that was lacking last season. I include Brendan Downs in the rotation only because AJ Branisel may not be ready because of a knee injury suffered a week ago that may keep him out next season. Downs will contribute but the young guys are going to play. I donít expect much out of Woody Quinn either (hoping Iím wrong here).
- Dontavious Blair/Marcus Pair/Austin Sanders
- Marcus Jackson/Brent Kendrick/Ray Raulerson
- Mack Crowder/Dylan Weisman/ Coleman Thomas
- Dylan Weisman/Coleman Thomas/
- Kyler Kerbyson/Marcus Pair
Some assumptions here. Assuming commitments like Blair, Raulerson and Thomas, all January enrollees, all indeed make it to campus (no reason to expect them not to). Barring injury, I believe the offensive line has a chance to be better than most will think.
There isnít much depth there so I expect freshman like Raulerson or Thomas to get into the rotation. I also wouldnít be surprised to see a defensive lineman make a position move to an interior offensive line position to add depth.
- Devote Lambert/Diary Mixon Latroy Lewis/Dewayne Hendrix
- Cory Vereen/Jordan Williams/Malik Brown/Jaylen Miller/Diary Mixon
- Trevarris Saulsberry/Jason Carr/Kendall Vickers/Derek Barnett/Charles Moseley
- Daniel O'Brien/Owen Williams/Greg Clark/Corey Thomas/Charles Moseley
Again making assumptions JUCOs Lambert and Williams do indeed sign with Tennessee. If they do, both will see immediate playing time next season. Tennessee wants at least one more JUCO defensive line to be on campus in January. Tennessee will be young and inexperienced in the defensive line but they will be faster, bigger, and more athletic.
Commitments Joe Henderson and Dewayne Hendrix are the future. Hendrix will likely play. Henderson may need a redshirt in order to bulk up.
IF Thomas and Barnett do indeed sign with Tennessee, I would be surprised if one or both play in 2014.
Strong Outside Linebacker
- Curt Maggitt/Chris Weatherd/Jakob Johnson
Weakside/ Outside Linebacker
- Jaylen Reeves Maybin/Dylan Bates/ Elliot Berry
- Justin King, Kenny Bynum/Gavin Bryant
Again making an assumption AJ Johnson leaves early for the NFL. Not saying he is ready just saying that is my assumption right now. Tennessee will be faster and more athletic next season with the return of Maggitt and the addition of Reeves-Maybin, Weatherd and other newcomers.
I worry about the middle linebacker spot regardless of whether Johnson returns or not.
- Justin Coleman. Rashaan Gaulden/Devonne Swafford. My opinion is Coleman is more suited for the nickel position than cornerback though I wonder if he can hold off newcomer Gaulden who I believe will be the steal of this class.
- Cameron Sutton/Malik Foreman/ DeAndre Payne/Evan Berry
- Riyadh Jones/Michael Williams/Rashaan Gaulden/Emmanuel Moseley
Look for the 2014 class to add depth and more importantly speed to the defensive back group. Watch out for Gaulden and Moseley.
Not sure where Gaulden plays in the secondary but he will be difficult to keep off the field. I believe he's one of the top signees in this class.
- Brian Randolph/ Todd Kelley Jr./ Geraldo Orta
Safety - LaDarrell McNeil/Cortez McDowell/RaShann Gaulden
I would like to see Tennessee sign one more safety in the 2014 class though I donít know if the numbers will allow it. Tennessee will be in a dogfight to hold onto McDowell until signing day.
Kelley JR, Gaulden, or McDowell will likely be on the field very early at one of the safety positions. I would look for all three to play extensively.
- Devrin Young and Vic Wharton. Matter of time before Wharton takes over as the guy on kick returns.
You can probably tell I'm sold on Gaulden.
I havenít forgotten about January enrollee Neiko Creamer I just donít know what position he plays. He is big enough and athletic enough to contribute at a number of spots.
You can expect a dozen or more of the signees to play significantly next season. Conversely, I would expect players that were on the field regularly last season to have lesser roles going forward.
I don't have any inside information on where Josh Malone plans to attend college. I really don't. Not holding out on you here. However, looking at two developments that have occurred recently that I believe is connected to the Josh Malone recruitment, and this one is getting really interesting.
First, last week it became public Malone had signed a financial aid agreement (FAA) with the University of Tennessee. The FAA is currently en vogue now by schools and families with of prospects eligible to be mid-term enrollees. Signing a FAA secures a scholarship for the prospect with the school but it doesn't bind the prospect to actually enroll with the school for which said prospect signed the FAA. Prospects can sign FAAs with more than one school if they choose to based upon my understanding of the rule.
The benefit for the school is once a prospect signs a FAA the school is no longer bound by the NCAA regulations related to contact of prospective student-athletes (ie, allows virtually unlimited contact between prospect and school).
It too was reported the Malone family did not want the fact they wanted to sign FAAs with "finalists" for Malone's services made public. Finalists for Malone "appear" to be Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida State.
This is where it gets a bit cloudy. Tennessee is the only school so far Malone has signed the FAA. Word that Malone had signed a FAA with Tennessee allegedly came from sources around the Florida State program. Multiple sources have suggested the information came from Tallahassee though I have no direct knowledge of where the leak came from. hmmmmmmmmmmm....
Did Florida State actually leak the information to the media? If so, I can't imagine violating the families' wishes to keep this information private helps their positioning in the Malone sweepstakes. Or, was the information "leaked" because Florida State feels like they either out of the Malone sweepstakes or clearly swimming upstream against Tennessee and Georgia? I dunno.
Speaking of Georgia. Here is the other part of this story. I have paid a lot of attention to the Malone recruitment. This includes reporting from other schools on Malone's contact with coaches and his visits to said schools. With Georgia, my understanding is Georgia has two wide receivers committed to their 2014 class. Georgia recruiting analysts have been consistent since September that Georgia, because of limited numbers in their 2014 recruiting class, would only pursue another wide receiver if Malone chooses another school. Until Saturday, the only wide receiver prospect left on their board was Josh Malone......
On Saturday, Georgia offered a scholarship to North Gwinnett wide receiver Nate Brown. Brown, a Missouri commitment, is a big receiver (similar in size to Malone but nowhere near the prospect).
This kind of stuff is why conspiracy theorists like me love the game within the game of recruiting. I guess we'll know for sure in early December whether the above events are connected in any way or not.
Something to think about on your Monday.
'Not saying we told you so BUT .....Is there any doubt Butch Jones is far from finished putting his first full recruiting class together? Within hours of a disappointing performance against Auburn, news popped that defensive lineman Dimarya Mixon had publicly committed to Tennessee. Mixon's commitment brought Tennessee to 30 public commitments.... more than any other FBS school.
We spoke of Mixon here last week. Originally signed out of high school by Nebraska. When he failed to qualify academically, Nebraska released Mixon from his scholarship. Mixon has spent the last year getting his academics straight. Tennessee has been recruiting him longer than any other school. With his academics in order, and having a comfort level with the staff..... batta-bing-batta-boom Mixon is a Vol who will enroll come January. Mixon, who stands 6'4" 260 lbs., was being courted by Oklahoma, Boise State, and Auburn. Though I'm not as sold on Mixon as others, he is a solid pick-up.
Keeping with the theme of not slowing down, don't be surprised if one if not two prospects announce their commitments for Tennessee this week.
Cory Thomas is a really nice looking prospect. Thomas stands every bit of 6'6" topping the scales at 275 plus pounds. Thomas is a raw but extraordinarily athletic prospect. Thomas is rated as one of the top 15 prospects in Alabama. Tennessee beat Clemson and Mississippi State for Thomas in the end. Auburn and Alabama are interested in Thomas but this appears to be a situation where a kid that wants to leave the state to play his college football. Tennessee will have to recruit Thomas until he signs his papers in February so this one is far from over.
Look for Brighton, Tennessee, offensive/defensive lineman Charles Mosley to make his college decision public later this week. Link
Mosley stands 6'5" and weighs in at 350 -ish pounds. Right now, Mosley appears to be favoring Tennessee over Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, and Mississippi State. It will be interesting to see what side of the ball Mosley ends up on in college. Some analysts project Mosley as an interior offensive lineman while others project him as a defensive tackle. Mosley would be a big pickup for Tennessee both literally and figuratively. Mosley is a top ten prospect in the state and landing him helps solidify Butch Jones' theme of building a fence around the state. Too, Mosely is a west Tennessee kid. Tennessee needs to be able to go into west Tennessee and pick up a prospect like Mosely especially at a position of need.
If the above comes to fruition, Tennessee could be sitting at 32 commitments by mid-November..... Unbelievable
The reason I continue to say Butch Jones is not slowing down is this recruiting class STILL needs another healthy running back to go with Jalen Hurd and Treyvon Paulk, a play making wide receiver, and at least two more elite talents on defense regardless of position.
No, Tennessee won't oversign. 30 signees is the maximum Tennessee will take. By oversigning, Tennessee would be thumbing its nose at the SEC League Office and the NCAA. No other school has oversigned so there are no precedents established for penalties for a school that oversigns. Tennessee just doesnít need the sideshow associated with oversigning. I could see Tennessee signing 30 and offering one maybe two kids an opportunity to greyshirt.
I refuse to name any names here but any one of you can look at the commitment list and come up with 5 to 6 committed prospects that, whether its academics or some other factor , will not be Volunteers on National Signing Day. As I have continued to say, in the end, the numbers will work themselves out.