Tennessee recruiting and its current depth chart by class

What follows are tables showing Tennessee's depth chart by class. I culled the information in the first four columns from a variety of sources, including Tennessee's 2009 media guide, the 2009 cumulative season stats, and the NCAA official stats. Some guys with no game experience didn't make the tables. Guys who have starting experience from last year are in italics. All of that stuff is factual (subject to fact-checking, of course). I made judgment calls on the projected starters, which are in bold type. The "Needs" column is wild-stab guess on my part and reflects my best guess as to how the 28 spots available for signees should be allocated. Your mileage will no doubt vary based on everything from your tire pressure to your fondness for big fat, immovable guys.

We'll take a look at all of that information for the offense, defense, and special teams, and then compare it to the guys who are currently committed and the guys we'll be chasing through the end of the day tomorrow to see how things match up.

First up, a look at the offense.

OFFENSE
Position
Seniors
Juniors
Sophomores
Needs
QB Nick Stephens (10/6) Nick Lamaison (0/0)   +2
RB   Tauren Poole (25/0) David Oku (13/0); Bryce Brown (12/0); Toney Williams (0/0) +1
FB Kevin Cooper (32/19) Austin Johnson (18/0); Sam Edgmon (11/0)   +1
WR Austin Rogers (If 6th-year granted) (38/19); Denarius Moore (39/7) Todd Campbell (3/0) Marsalis Teague (13/5) +4
WR Gerald Jones (32/17)   Zach Rogers (12/0)  
TE Luke Stocker (39/25) Ben Bartholomew (7/0)   +2
OL Jarrod Shaw (10/3)   Aaron Douglas (12/10) +6
OL   William Brimfield (14/0) Dallas Thomas (13/0)  
OL   Cody Pope (4/0) Carson Anderson (2/0)  
OL     JerQuari Schofield (0/0)  
OL     Daniel Hood (0/0); Kevin Revis (0/0)  
Projected starters in bold. Returning starters in italics. Numbers in parentheses are games/starts.


Observations

QBs. We're lacking both experience and depth here. Stephens has a bit of the former (2008 has been called many things, but "experience" isn't usually one of them.) Adding a couple of guys who can both challenge for the starting position and bring depth to a position sorely needing it would be good.

RBs. We appear to be in pretty good shape here. There's no starting experience, but Brown, Oku, and Poole all have significant in-game experience.

FBs. We're iIn good shape here for this year, provided Cooper doesn't get hurt, but we need some young guys for the future.

WR. We're also not bad here, with Moore and Jones both having significant starting experience. Teague and Rogers got some good field time in 2008 as well. We could use numbers for depth purposes, and to be honest, we could swing for the fences on a few guys as our current unit, while solid, does not appear to be elite.

TEs. Stocker is fantastic, and provided he's healthy, he should really make some noise this year. We need depth, though, so a couple more guys would help.

OL. PANIC! A grand, whopping total of 13 starts among five positions, 10 of which came from a freshman is NOT GOOD NEWS. And look at the paucity of upper classmen. Fortunately, we have some young bodies already on campus, but with the exception of Aaron Douglas and Dallas Thomas, they've almost no experience. We need offensive linemen in the worst way.

And now on to the defense:

DEFENSE
Position
Seniors
Juniors
Sophomores
Needs
DE Chris Walker (37/12); Gerald Williams (23/2) Rae Sykes (1/0)   +2
DE Ben Martin (33/11)   Willie Bohannon (13/1); Steven Fowlkes (3/0)  
DT Victor Thomas (14/0)   Montori Hughes (13/0); Arthur Jeffery (0/0) +2
DT Chase Nelson (9/0)   Marlon Walls (8/0)  
LB LaMarcus Thompson (37/11) Davryl Vereen (17/0); Josh Hawkins (4/0) Herman Lathers (14/5); Robert Nelson (0/0); +3
LB Nick Reveiz (30/5) Shane Reveiz (12/0) Greg King (9/2); Jerod Askew (0/0)  
LB Savion Frazier (31/4) Jake Storey (9/0) Nigel Mitchell-Thornton (8/0)  
DB Tyler Wolf (12/0) Art Evans (22/12) Janzen Jackson (10/9); Nyshier Oliver (0/0) +3
DB   Anthony Anderson (14/1) Prentiss Waggner (13/2); Darren Myles, Jr. (7/0)  
DB   Stephaun Raines (12/0) Rod Wilks (13/0); Eric Gordon (0/0)  
DB   C.J. Fleming (4/0) Cory Eichholtz (8/0)  
Projected starters in bold. Returning starters in italics. Numbers in parentheses are games/starts.

Observations

DEs. We're in very good shape for this season at this position, provided Chris Walker's back doesn't start acting up again. He and Martin should be a force. Depth behind them isn't horrible, but it could use some shoring up.

DTs. No starting experience whatsoever is cause for YIKES. Montori Hughes, Victor Thomas, Chase Nelson, and Marlon Walls do have game experience, but none of them have been THE GUY yet.

LBs. Lots of bodies here, and as long as our top three guys can get and stay healthy, our starters will be fine. There's also depth behind them, but it's lacking a bit in experience.

DBs. Yeah, I have no idea who Tyler Wolf is, either. Jackson is a lock for a starting position, one he held for most of his true freshman season. Art Evans also has signficiant starting experience, but after those two guys, the other two positions are up for grabs by a bunch of bodies with only some experience and no experience starting.

And now on to special teams:

SPECIAL TEAMS
Position
Seniors
Juniors
Sophomores
Needs
P Chad Cunningham (30/6)     +1
PK Daniel Lincoln (33/24); Devin Mathis (3/0)     +1
Projected starters in bold. Yeah, nothing's bold. Returning starters in italics. Numbers in parentheses are games/starts.

Observations

Hmm. Punter is fine. Kickers? Not so much. We could use a foot to get some touchbacks and field goals over the line of scrimmage. Lincoln could very well be the guy for field goals if he gets and stays healthy, but if not, we'll need someone to get it done.

TENNESSEE FOOTBALL DEPTH BY CLASS
TOTALS FOR PROJECTED STARTERS
Unit
Seniors
Juniors
Sophomores
Freshmen
OFFENSE (X/X)
6 (162/77)
1 (14/0)
4 (39/10)
DEFENSE (X/X)
6 (182/43)
2 (36/13)
3 (36/11)
SPECIAL TEAMS

Needs and current commits

Position
Needs
Commits
Player
Rivals
Stars
Scout
Stars
QB 2 3 Tyler Bray 4 3
Nash Nance 2 3
Matt Simms 3 3
RB 1 1 Rajion Neal 4 3
FB 1 1 Channing Fugate 3 3
WR 4 3 Justin Hunter 4 4
      Ted Meline 4 3
      Matt Milton 4 4
TE 2 1 Mychal Rivera 3 3
OL 6 3 Zach Fulton 3 3
      Jawuan James 4 4
      Marques Pair 3 3
DE 2 4 J.C. Copeland 4 3
      Martaze Jackson 3 2
      Corey Miller 4 4
      Jacques Smith 4 4
DT 2 1 John Brown 4 4
LB 3 3 John Propst 3 3
      Glen Stanley 4 4
      Ralph Williams 3 n/a
DB 3 3 Dave Clark 4 3
      Eddrick Loften 4 3
      Dontavis Sapp 4 2
ST 2 1 Michael Palardy 3 4
ATH   1 Marcques Dixon 3 3
Total 28 25      

Observations

We're light on offensive linemen, defensive tackles, and wide receivers. On special teams, Palardy may be able to handle both punting and placekicking, but he's still only one guy and thus one injury away from real trouble. We're a little heavy for my liking on defensive ends, especially when we need offensive linemen so badly.

What to watch for tomorrow

Assuming all of the current commits sign and make it in, we have three spots left and should probably hope to fill them with a wide receiver and a couple of offensive linemen. Wide receivers we appear to have a shot at are Da'Rick Rogers (Rivals 5-star, Scout 5-star) and Markeith Ambles (Rivals 5-star, Scout 4-star). The only offensive linemen we appear to still have a chance on is James Stone (Rivals 4-star, Scout 3-star). There are others that have interest in Tennessee but have never taken a visit, so we can probably count them out, including Arie Kouandjio, Damien Robinson, Dalvin Glass, John Cullen, and Chucky Curry. As far as defensive tackles go, we might still have a shot at Calvin Smith (Rivals 4-star, Scout 3-star), as he's listed as uncommitted. He's visited Alabama, Florida State, Illinois, New Mexico, and Tennessee.

Bottom line, in addition to hoping that all of the commits actually sign tomorrow, we really need to hope that we get Stone and either Rogers or Ambles. As a fall back position, expect some other receiver, offensive lineman, or defensive tackle.

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