BREAKING DOWN THE VOLS’ SIGNEES
* Quarterbacks: 1
* Running backs: 3
* Wide receivers: 2
* Tight ends: 2
* Offensive linemen: 5
* Defensive linemen: 4
* Linebackers: 3
* Defensive backs: 7
A quote on the class
“I think this is the first time I've ever been involved (in recruiting) where every single player who committed never flinched. I think that is a real testament to the quality of people that we have and the type of recruiting that we do that's done for the long haul. The way we recruit is very process-driven. We don't throw hot sauce on 'em on a weekend and try to swoop ‘em in. That's just not my style because I don't think that stands the test of time.”
— UT coach Derek Dooley
The ones who got away
Losing touted recruits is one thing, but losing touted recruits to former UT coach Lane Kiffin has to sting Vol fans even more. Lamar Dawson, a four-star linebacker out of Boyle County High School in Danville, Ky., spurned UT and the homestate Wildcats for Kiffin and Southern Cal. The top player in Kentucky and a top-50 prospect, Dawson would have been a nice addition at a position of need for UT. UT pushed Auburn hard at the end for Gabe Wright, but the four-star defensive tackle out of Columbus, Ga., ultimately stuck with the Tigers. Wright said on ESPNU’s signing day that it was “50-50” and the race was so close he could have “flipped a coin.” The Vols could have used a defensive tackle with Wright’s size and ability.
The ones who could play in 2011
Take your pick. UT played 16 true freshman this past season, and for a team still building back its depth following the attrition that comes with coaching changes in back-to-back seasons, expect a good number from this class to make an impact next fall. Couch could start at defensive tackle, and Moore also should be a factor. Richardson steps on campus as at worst the Vols’ third tackle, Jackson will figure heavily into the guard rotation and Clear already might be the second tight end. Only five of last year’s class redshirted as freshmen, and that number might not be much higher in 2011.
DT Allan Carson
Oxford, Ala. (Oxford)
6-1, 315 Rivals: 2 stars
Carson didn’t begin playing football until the spring of his freshman year. With the size to plug the middle of a defensive line, Carson finished his senior season with 18 tackles for loss and six sacks, helping Oxford reach the playoffs in Alabama’s largest classification.
*DB Justin Coleman
Brunswick, Ga. (Brunswick)
5-11, 180 Rivals: 4 stars
An early enrollee with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Coleman was Class 4A all-state and rated the No. 20 cornerback in the nation and the No. 16 player in Georgia. As a junior he finished in the top five in the state in the 300- and 110-meter hurdles.
DT Maurice Couch
Garden City, Kan. (Garden City CC)
6-2, 295 Rivals: 4 stars
With UT’s needs at defensive tackle, Couch should step in right away and make an impact. The nation’s No. 9 junior college prospect had offers from South Carolina, Georgia and Southern Cal and still has three years of eligibility.
LB Christian Harris
Woodstock, Ga. (Etowah)
6-3, 235 Rivals: 3 stars
The class’s first commitment, Harris moved from outside linebacker to the middle spot for his senior season and made more than 100 tackles and was all-state in Georgia’s largest classification. Central Florida was his only offer after committing at UT’s junior day last March.
LB A.J. Johnson
Gainesville, Ga. (Gainesville)
6-3, 230 Rivals: 4 stars
The No. 8 inside linebacker and the No. 12 player in Georgia, Johnson committed a year apart to UT’s last two coaching staffs. The Class 3A defensive player of the year and Under Armour All-American game participant had offers from Florida and Alabama among others.DB Izauea Lanier
Scooba, Miss. (East Mississippi CC)
6-1, 190 Rivals: 4 stars
Another prospect expected to help a thin secondary right away, Lanier picked UT over Ole Miss and Florida. He signed with Auburn out of Gordo (Ala.) High School but didn’t qualify academically. The nation’s No. 16 junior college prospect has three years of eligibility.
LB Curt Maggitt
West Palm Beach, Fla. (Dwyer)
6-3, 195 Rivals: 4 stars
Maggitt visited UT two weeks ago and ultimately picked the Vols over Florida. A top-200 player and the No. 31 player in Florida, Maggitt had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida State and others.
DB Pat Martin
Greenville, S.C. (J.L. Mann)
5-11, 200 Rivals: 4 stars
South Carolina’s No. 6 prospect picked UT in August and focused much of his efforts in getting other prospects to join him. Martin, the No. 22 safety prospect nationally, picked UT over South Carolina, LSU, UCLA and Oklahoma.
DB Byron Moore
Wilmington, Calif. (Los Angeles Harbor CC)
6-1, 205 Rivals: 4 stars
Moore transferred to Harbor last July as a redshirt freshman at Southern Cal and picked UT over Miami. The country’s No. 5 junior college prospect and the headliner of a stellar secondary class should make an immediate impact as a redshirt sophomore.
DB Geraldo Orta
Valdosta, Ga. (Lowndes)
6-0, 180 Rivals: 3 stars
A former Clemson commitment, Orta reopened his recruitment and picked UT after an official visit in January. The nation’s No. 57 safety prospect joins fellow defensive back and Valdosta resident Dontavis Sapp, a January addition to last year’s class.
DB Brian Randolph
Marietta, Ga. (Kell)
6-0, 195 Rivals: 3 stars
The Gatorade Player of the Year in Georgia, Parade All-American and Class 4A defensive player of the year had an impressive senior season: 162 tackles, four interceptions, 27 yards per kick return, more than 1,000 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on offense and a 4.1 GPA.
DL Trevarris Saulsberry
Gainesville, Fla. (Gainesville)
6-4, 275 Rivals: 3 stars
Saulsberry, who had 68 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a senior, attended a UT camp in the summer and earned a scholarship offer. He can play defensive end but has added weight in hopes of providing depth at tackle.
DB Tino Thomas
6-0, 190 Rivals: 3 stars
The brother of former Miami running back Graig Cooper, Thomas joins linebacker Greg King on UT’s roster out of a Melrose program known for annually producing athletic players. He projects as a college cornerback with his speed and athleticism.
DE Jordan Williams
Gainesville, Fla. (Gainesville)
6-4, 250 Rivals: 3 stars
After a stellar all-state game performance, new Florida coach Will Muschamp came calling, but the son of a former Gator stuck with the Vols. He had 85 tackles and six sacks, helping take his school to the semifinals for the first time.