published Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Tennessee, UTC Mocs, Alabama land decorated signing day hauls

University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones talks about the NCAA college football team's signing class on Wednesday in Knoxville.
University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones talks about the NCAA college football team's signing class on Wednesday in Knoxville.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NATIONAL RECRUITING RANKINGS

RIVALS.COM

• 1. Alabama

• 2. LSU

• 3. Ohio State

• 4. Florida State

• 5. Tennessee

• 6. Texas A&M

• 7. Florida

• 8. Georgia

• 9. Auburn

• 10. USC

SCOUT.COM

• 1. Alabama

• 2. LSU

• 3. Florida State

• 4. Tennessee

• 5. Ohio State

• 6. Notre Dame

• 7. Texas A&M

• 8. Auburn

• 9. Florida

• 10. USC

247SPORTS

• 1. Alabama

• 2. LSU

• 3. Ohio State

• 4. Florida State

• 5. Texas A&M

• 6. Auburn

• 7. Tennessee

• 8. Georgia

• 9. Florida

• 10. Notre Dame

College football ended Jan. 6 with the final BCS title game.

For many, the 2014 college football season started Wednesday as the nation's best high school players picked their future colleges on the unofficial holiday known as national signing day.

It may be day one, but Wednesday was the culmination of a yearlong process for University of Tennessee coach Butch Jones as the Vols put the wraps on a collection of talent viewed among the five-best nationally.

"It is a 365-day process," Jones told reporters after adding 32 players to his program in his first full recruiting class. "There are no off days in recruiting. ... It is nonstop. It is on to 2015 and 2016. It is never ending."

While the effort from Jones and his coaching counterparts is year-round, the interest in signing and recruiting hits a crescendo this time of year.

It has become such a social media tsunami that around lunch time Wednesday, the top three trending topics on Twitter were #NSD (for national signing day), #Signing Day and Rashaan Evans, who was the high school senior who authored the nation's biggest surprise.

Evans, a five-star linebacker who grew up in the shadows of Auburn University and whose parents attended Auburn, picked arch-rival Alabama and was part of the Tide's recruiting haul that was universally hailed as the nation's best.

Still, the man who has become the best at convincing high school players to come to his school preached patience as he landed another bumper crop.

"I really do think that the most accurate way to be able to rank any recruiting class would be three years down the road," Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Alabama collected the nation's best class, according to Rivals.com, a national recruiting website hosted by Yahoo.com that generated so much traffic Wednesday morning it was shut down for almost an hour.

The Tide's overwhelming haul was just the icing on a Southeastern Conference-dominated celebration. There were nine SEC teams in the top 15 national classes according to Rivals, including the next wave of Tennessee Vols and Georgia Bulldogs, who finished fifth and eighth, respectively.

"We talk about doing everything with a relentless approach. Whether it is recruiting, academics, or champions in the community," Jones said. "For us to get back to the elite level in the SEC, we have to be able to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the country. I felt that we were able to do that this year."

Jones vowed when he was hired 14 months ago that Tennessee would dominate its home state in recruiting, and with an 11th-hour switch from Nashville-area defensive tackle Michael Sawyers, Jones convinced nine of the top 10 players in Tennessee to continue the brick-by-brick rebuilding efforts of the once-proud program.

The Vols were not the only in-state school to be giddy after Wednesday's festivities. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs added 19 players to its program and the group was ranked as the nation's best in the Football Championship Subdivision and the top class in their subdivision nationally, according to 247Sports.com.

"We have a good football team coming back and those guys did a lot to help us recruit the kids we got today," UTC coach Russ Huesman said. "The 19 kids we signed are going to come in and compete and we're hoping several of them can step in and make plays for us and give us some depth. We hit all the needs we had as a team across the board. We got not only great players, but tremendous character guys as well."

Staff writers Patrick Brown and Stephen Hargis contributed to this report.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter at @jgreesontfp.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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