Following recruiting is a full-time gig. When real life gets in the way, you're liable to be surprised by some recruiting news. Such was the case this evening; the Mrs. and I took off to relax for a little bit in the evening, and I returned home to a feed reader that was practically beside itself: Delvin Jones had committed to Tennessee.
Jones is one of those rare athletes who basically projects to be whatever he wants to be. Standing at 6'-6" and 230 lbs, he has a frame that could be molded into either a tight end or a huge wide receiver on the offensive side of the ball. On the defense, he could make a very good defensive end with his 4.6 40 time. While it's this tweener status that makes him particularly valuable, it also makes him a bear for the scouting websites to project. For example, Rivals has him as the 17th best "athlete", but he's the tallest of the top 80 and only 2 other 'athletes' have physical metrics anywhere close to his. Scout places him as the #33 defensive end in the country, and most of the players ahead of him are shorter and heavier (note: guys who are closer to playing size today score better than those who need more growth). (Also an aside: Tennessee already has #6 and ##45 on Scout's list.) ESPN places him effectively on the same level as Smith and Copeland.
The point is, he's a terrific athlete. He's big enough to play on the end of the D-line. He's also skilled enough for tight end or wide receiver. And everybody is really high on this kid. Like rblakeh noted before, his offer list is a stack of papers that the rest of us could only dream about.
The other fascinating side of the story is the process itself. Here's what won Jones over to the Vols:
- Early Contact One of Orgeron's core tenets of recruiting is to be the first coach in a player's home. There has to be something memorable about the first time you're contacted by a major school and given an offer. Everything after that first offer is, to some degree, more of the same. But that first one makes an impression, and Orgeron does not let that go to waste. Nor does any other recruiter on UT's staff.
- Eddie Gran The man is an absolute miracle-worker in South Florida. Whatever contacts and goodwill he built up with his time at Auburn, UT is reaping the benefits in big ways. The guy that got Nu'Keese Richardson has now pulled another out of the triumvirate backyard.
- Early Enrollee I do believe this relates back to the first point. Jones will enroll in January (which, as an aside, means that UT will be able to max out their 2008 class if they so desire). I believe that the guys who want to enroll early have an earlier timetable in their heads because they don't have the extra month until National Signing Day. So the earlier you contact them, the better off you are. Not only has O's philosophy netted another terrific player, it has brought in a guy who will learn the system for eight full months before his freshman year begins.
And given that Delvin can play either side of the ball, what is his choice?
"I’ll play anything they want me to play once I get there," Jones said, "as long as I get playing time."