Mocs' football recruits appreciate 'family' approach

UTC head football coach Tom Arth, left, greets Alejandro Bennifield as graduating seniors are honored before the Mocs' final home football game of the season against the ETSU Buccaneers at Finely Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Tyrell Price knew he had other opportunities.

But it was something about the approach - one of family - that led the 6-foot, 220-pound running back to spurn those other offers and choose to play for a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team coming off a subpar season.

Price was the last of 13 early signees for the Mocs back in December. The East Mississippi Junior College transfer had led the nation with 24 touchdowns as a sophomore and led the Lions to the NJCAA national championship.

He picked the Mocs over offers from Jacksonville State, Stephen F. Austin, North Alabama and Abilene Christian.

"I know I can be a big help to the team," Price told the Times Free Press recently. "The coaching staff is real cool, and I know that Chattanooga is not always down. I like their pro-style offense; it could have me more prepared for the (National Football) league. I believe I can have a standout year and showcase my talent, because I love to compete.

"They showed me way more interest than the other schools. They called me all the time, came and saw me at school and on my visit showed me a real good time. They kept it real with me, and we talked more about how they needed me than how they wanted me."

It's been a while since the Mocs were coming off a sub-.500 season - six years, to be exact. Former coach Russ Huesman oversaw 59 wins during his eight-year tenure, with a 5-6 campaign in 2011 the only losing record. After a 3-8 season in 2017, Huesman's successor, Tom Arth, and his staff could have had a recruiting challenge.

Yet Price saw the staff's vision. So have so many other prospects who spurned bigger offers to sign with UTC in December or commit to the Mocs in recent weeks. Most of the commitments have mentioned the "family" atmosphere as a reason they made the choice; Arth himself said recently that he was impressed by how the parents of the prospects all took a liking to each other.

That's been the objective since Arth arrived in December of 2016, and seven reported commitments are expected to become official Mocs recruits during next week's signing period.

"I know UTC had a rough start to their season last year, but they finished very strong," Austin (Ala.) offensive lineman commitment Zachary Fox said recently. "Also once I heard and watched their offense, I knew it was well thought out and I could see the vision clearly for the team.

"The UTC football program - including myself and surely all the new recruits - see a shift coming. They're family-oriented and care about making champions on and off the field, and I am a very strong believer that's how you win and make men."

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.