Butch Jones gang still growing; UT Vols recruiters seeking final flourishes to pen strokes

Butch Jones gang still growing; UT Vols recruiters seeking final flourishes to pen strokes

January 22nd, 2014 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee's head coach Butch Jones reacts to a touchdown against Austin Peay.

Tennessee's head coach Butch Jones reacts to a...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE - Two weeks from today, pens will hit paper and more than a year's worth of time and effort will come to fruition for Tennessee's football coaching staff.

National signing day means the 2014 class finally will be set to join the Volunteers' rebuilding project several months later.

With 14 members of the highly touted class already on campus and 20 other verbal commitments, most of the work appears done for Tennessee and coach Butch Jones, but before the focus fully can turn toward building on a solid start to the 2015 class and beyond, the program must finish this year's incoming class.

Tennessee still faces work to hang on to a couple of its current commitments, and while there may not be a long list of remaining targets for the Vols, either undecided or committed elsewhere, the ones they're still chasing certainly aren't lacking in talent or importance.

In the national class rankings, Tennessee sits anywhere from second (Scout.com) or third (Rivals.com) to fifth (ESPN) and sixth (247sports.com), but how the Vols finish and any additions or subtractions that occur in the next two weeks will impact that positioning.

Here are three things to watch for in Tennessee's recruiting between now and signing day.

1. After Adoree'

Tennessee has made a handful of recruiting splashes during the program's first season under Jones, and landing Adoree' Jackson -- a consensus five-star cornerback prospect -- certainly would qualify as a big coup. The Vols hosted the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., who attends Junipero Serra High School in California, for an official visit in November for the Auburn game. Jackson's top six are Florida, LSU, Southern California, Oklahoma, Tennessee and UCLA, and he hosted in-home visits from a handful of coaches last week. Landing Jackson would make a Vols class that's already really good even better.

2. Great Scott

The Vols won't have to wait until signing day for an answer from Derrell Scott, a four-star running back out of North Carolina. He is scheduled to announce his decision Monday afternoon with either South Carolina or Tennessee as the likely destination. The 5-11, 180-pounder from Havelock High School, from which the Vols signed defensive end Kendal Vickers last year, has been a priority for Tennessee in looking to add a third tailback to this class. Five-star Jalen Hurd, who's already on campus, is coming off shoulder surgery, and Treyvon Paulk is rehabbing after tearing an ACL during his senior year. Marlin Lane, Tennessee's top returning rusher, hasn't shown he can make it through a season completely healthy, so the Vols need to bolster their backfield, and Scott certainly would do that.

3. D-line dilemma

Junior college defensive end DaVonte Lambert's December flip from Tennessee to Auburn made adding another defensive lineman to this class important for Tennessee. Add the status of current pledge Cory Thomas -- the McCalla, Ala., resident took an official visit to Clemson last weekend and heads to Mississippi State this weekend -- to the loss of Lambert, and the Vols are exploring some other options. Two of them, Craig Evans and Courtney Garnett, are scheduled to visit Knoxville this weekend. Evans, a 6-3, 305-pound tackle who committed to home-state Wisconsin earlier this month, is a four-star prospect to whom Tennessee recently offered a scholarship. Garnett, a 6-2, 280-pound tackle, is a former Texas commitment from New Orleans who also is being pursued by Oklahoma.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.