Well, at least I didn't pick a bad day-and-a-half to get out of town or anything.
It all started this morning when I read that Khalid Henderson was asked to look elsewhere and his harsh words toward Derek Dooley and the Vols coaching staff. Later in the day, I saw the Keithon Redding saga, but of course the bombshell news of the day was Justin Wilcox and Peter Sirmon pulling a Lane Kiffin for a sub-lateral move.
Whatever. It sucks, but maybe we'll make a great hire. I'm kinda numb to this now. The main reason I'm ticked is because I really hate to lose the shining recruiting star that is Sirmon and also the the fact that this really could hurt our recruiting class keys, which are in the defensive front seven. Oh well, this IS Tennessee. This is par for the course lately.
Hate that I missed this entire day, but honestly, as much as I was checking the Interwebs on my Droid, I was halfway here ... and halfway with my wife and baby, too. Thanks, Justin Wilcox. Go fail in the Pacific Northwest for all I care. Onto the RiR series.
6. MARLIN LANE, 6-0, 205 RB DAYTONA BEACH FLA. [MAINLAND HS]
Ratings: Rivals 4* No. 23 running back, Scout 4* No. 23 running back, ESPN 4* No. 11 running back, 247 4*. Chose UT over Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Michigan, Ole Miss, West Virginia, Southern Cal.
Looking back: He has 280 yards on 75 carries last year for a 3.7 average and two touchdowns. He also had another 17 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns along with 179 return yards. Though Lane showed an early knack for getting in the end zone [first UT player since Reggie Cobb in 1987 to score in first three college games], he battled some nagging injuries later in the season and wasn't effective. Also getting run down on what looked like a sure-fire touchdown kind of embodied the entire season. Still, it wasn't an overly awful debut for Lane, who made a couple of open-field plays against Georgia that showed he may be on the way to being a good player for UT.
Looking forward: Lane has got to live up to his major potential that had most of the major programs in the Southeast wanting him. He just has to. UT needs him. Lane isn't fast, and he may not ever be the dynamic athlete he was prior to a nasty knee injury suffered in high school, but he will finally have the chance to be fully recovered next year and have a season under his belt. The Vols need a big sophomore year from Lane -- and Lane needs it or he'll be recruited over.
Final projection: I'm not off the Lane Train yet. I think he's going to be a good player, and he certainly has a lot of potential. But his vision has to improve, and his football speed does, too. I don't think Lane ever will be a game-breaker, but I do think he has the potential to be a 1,000-yard rusher before his UT days are over.
5. MAURICE "MO" COUCH, 6-2, 305 DT ORLANDO, FLA. [GARDEN CITY CC]
Ratings: Rivals 4* No. 30 JUCO prospect, Scout 4*, 247 4*. Chose UT over Georgia, Kansas, Kansas State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Central Florida, Southern Cal.
Looking back: Big Mo started the season slow and out-of-shape in spring practice, but he continually improved throughout his sophomore season and emerged into a dominating force at times with a very bright future. He started four games and finished with 37 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks in his first season. In the season's final three games, he recorded 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Looking forward: If he stays eligible [and there isn't any reason to believe he won't] Couch should have a big career for the Vols and be an NFL player. He will almost assuredly start for the next two seasons and has an opportunity to be The Man on the defensive line now that Malik Jackson is gone. He needs some help up front and definitely benefited from the attention on Malik this year, but Couch has the athleticism, strength and size to be an elite SEC defensive tackle by the time his career is done.
Final projection: I honestly believe Couch will be better than Jackson by the time his career is done. He is bigger and probably has a better size-speed combo, though Jackson was faster. The Vols needed a big-time instant-impact DT and got that with Couch, who only got better as the year progressed. Another year in the weight room, and the Vols could have a real star on their hands.