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Tom Arth speaks to fans, the media and attending players as the new Chattanooga Mocs head football coach Tuesday inside the Stadium Club at Finley Stadium.

UTC 2017 commitments (nonbinding)

Cole Copeland QB 6-3, 182 Bradley Central

Jack Doherty OL 6-5, 280 Christ Presbyterian

Colton Dowell WR 6-3, 190 Wilson Central

Zach Feaster LB 6-2, 205 Beauregard (Ala.)

Jordan Ferguson DB 6-3, 195 Bearden

Parker Mallett TE 6-3, 220 Sandy Creek (Ga.)

Clayton McConnell OL 6-4, 260 Foley (Ala.)

Bryce Nunnelly WR 6-2, 185 Walker Valley

John Robinson OL 6-3, 291 Cleburne County (Ala.)

Nick Tiano QB 6-4, 231 Baylor/Mississippi State

Jeffrey Wood DB 5-8, 163 Knoxville Catholic

Although he has coached only at an NCAA Division III football program, Tom Arth said Tuesday that his staff recruited "off a Division I model."

That should serve him well now that he's at a Division I school.

The new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach maintained a precise plan when recruiting players at his former school, John Carroll University. Arth and his assistants were in high schools, making their presence known to prospective recruits. They focused on a very specific type of student and athlete, and that's something Arth says won't change in his new coaching home.

"What we're looking for is somebody who fits from a character standpoint," he said. "Somebody who loves football, somebody that's intelligent, somebody that's talented. If you find those things, you're going to be able to adapt your scheme or find roles for them within the way you play."

Although he hasn't recruited in the Chattanooga area and surrounding region before, Arth said the assistants he's picked and others he's been looking at all have done so. He said he was looking forward to building relationships with high school coaches in the area, saying "you build your program through who you recruit out of high school."

The Mocs currently have 10 high school players committed for the 2017 signing class as well as Nick Tiano, a quarterback who spent two seasons at Mississippi State before announcing his transfer recently. Arth said Tuesday that he and his staff were planning to reach out to each of the committed recruits in the coming days to let them know how "excited the program was to have them."

There are other players who have expressed an interest to transfer, including Chattanooga native and Presbyterian junior running back Darrell Bridges, and Arth said accepting transfers will be considered "on a case-by-case situation."

"You have to see the type of person they are and find out why are they transferring," Arth said. "You have to understand that, get to know them and their situation and talk to a lot of people, but if they are somebody that fits your program, somebody you feel can add value and have a positive impact, it's great.

"By no means do they make up the core of your team. The core group out there playing is the guys you're recruiting, you're developing, but if you're able to get a few of those transfers to come in and make an impact, I think that's great, that's positive."

He said he and his staff have started to assess video of the incoming recruits and they've been "incredibly impressed" by the quality of players.

With the depth that former coach Russ Huesman was able to accumulate, he was able to do a lot of redshirting for those incoming players. Certain guys in the upcoming recruiting class, like Bradley Central quarterback Cole Copeland, would be ideal to sit out the 2017 season — especially with the seeming logjam the team has at the position with senior Alejandro Bennifield, Tiano and redshirt freshman Zack Weatherly — but in other cases, players could get on the field immediately, according to Arth.

"The way we've played has given us a lot of opportunities to play young players in our program," he said. "We have so many different personnel groups and we believe in playing young players. If you're a freshman and you're out there playing — maybe you're not a starter, but you're in like a dime package or something — you're getting all that experience. When you show up again as a sophomore and as a junior, you know what that looks like, and what that experience means to you is critical.

"I think it's critical for growing your program, for making sure that when you do graduate a lot of players, you've got guys that have that experience — maybe not as full-time starters, but in a certain role. They know what it is, they've been in the fight and it's not going to be their first time going out there. There are some players that aren't quite ready physically to do that, and in those cases you do what you have to do."

Staff taking shape

The Times Free Press reported Thursday that in addition to Brandon Staley following Arth from JCU as defensive coordinator, sources had said that offensive line coach Nick Hennessey, defensive line coach Brian Cochran and linebacker coach Matt Feeney would also join the UTC program.

Those three were confirmed Thursday, in addition to Justin Rascati as the new offensive coordinator.

Rascati spent last season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on former UTC offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield's staff at Tennessee Tech. After starting his collegiate playing career at Louisville, he had a standout career as a quarterback at James Madison, leading the Dukes to their Football Championship Subdivision national championship in 2004. His offensive coordinator on that team was UTC's most recent offensive coordinator, Jeff Durden.

Rascati, who earned a tryout with the Chicago Bears, will make three confirmed coaches on staff with NFL experience. Along with Arth's experience backing up Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, Hennessey played with the Buffalo Bills in 2009.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.

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