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Some perspective on three-star players

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Here's what everybody and their mother will be talking about this morning, Tennessee's class of 2008:

PLAYER

Pos.

Ht. 
Wt
40
Rivals Stars
Rivals Pos. Rank
Rivals State Rank
Scout Stars
Scout Pos. Rank
Gerald Williams LB 6-4 245 4.55 4 NR NR 1 JC
E.J. Abrams-Ward ATH 6-5 210 4.6 4 11 1 4 8
Aaron Douglas TE 6-6 245 4.9 4 5 2 4 16
Marlon Walls LB 6-2 225 4.55 4 22 6 3 14
Preston Bailey OL 6-5 315 - 3 32 7 3 30
Casey Kelly QB 6-2 191 4.6 3 17 81 3 20
Tauren Poole RB 5-10 194 4.65 3 16 25 3 41
Prentiss Waggner DB 6-2 170 4.51 3 33 17 3 86
Rodriguez Wilks WR 6-1 195 4.56 3 63 6 3 75
Willie Bohannon DE 6-3 230 4.7 3 22 27 3 84
Steven Fowlkes DE 6-5 213 4.65 3 19 48 3 29
Dallas Thomas OL 6-6 253 - 3 54 26 3 35
Ben Bartholomew RB 6-3 225 - 3 7 16 3 8
Austin Johnson RB 6-3 235 4.65 3 10 23 3 20
Herman Lathers LB 6-0 192 - 3 43 36 3 27
Carson Anderson OL 6-3 270 - 2 NR NR 3 53
Montori Hughes DT 6-5 255 - 2 NR NR 3 49
StePhaun Raines DB 6-0 180 4.4 1 NR NR 2 JC

That there is the 36th best recruiting class in the nation and the 6th best in the SEC. Alabama (#1), Florida (#3), Georgia (#6), LSU (#11), and Auburn (#20) are all ahead of us, per Rivals.

According to Scout, Tennessee had the 35th best class nationally and the 9th best in the SEC with Alabama (#1), Georgia (#4), LSU (#6), Florida (#12), Auburn (#19), Arkansas (#23) (!), Mississippi State (#33) (!!), and South Carolina (#34) (!) all ahead of the Vols.

Trev is not impressed. Nor is Brian, who dubs Tennessee's class of 2008 the nation's most disappointing:

Hey, at least Iowa and Michigan State don't pretend to be national powers. Tennessee does, but they won't be for much longer if they keep up this recruiting pace. The other UT has 18 commitments and only four four-stars, none among the top 100, and one of those is a JUCO who will only provide two years of service. Tennessee struck out on every major target it swung at despite a surprising season that garnered an SEC championship game berth and a New Year's Day bowl victory.

The departures of renowned QB guru David Cutcliffe (for a death job at Duke) and his right-hand man Trooper Taylor contributed to the off year, but the end result at UT (#37) is something no program that considers itself elite should ever see on signing day. Fulmer may have staved off an axing this year; the long term trend is not good.

It's pretty hard to argue the point right now, isn't it? Perhaps losing Trooper Taylor was not the second biggest disappointment of 2007 but the first. Maybe we should have devoted more time to recruiting the recruiter.

But be careful, Tennessee fans. The negativity accompanying the downs of the roller coaster 2007 season may or may not have scared away some recruits, but Fulmer's Belly is right to note that a sour fan base likely diminishes a program's ability to lure blue chip recruits to campus. So do like Fulmer's Belly did and welcome these guys to campus instead of telling them you really wanted someone else. Besides, we've had some great success with three-star players in the past. Some notables:

2007: Dennis Rogan

2006: Daniel Lincoln, Quintin Hancock

2005: Lucas Taylor, Antonio Wardlow, Dan Williams, Josh Briscoe, Austin Rogers

2004: Chris Brown, Jerod Mayo, Erik Ainge, Jonathan Hefney, Anthony Parker, Arian Foster

2003: Brad Cottam, Britton Colquitt

Some of those former three-star recruits will be playing in the NFL next year, and some of them either left or could have left early to do so. And don't forget the class of 2007, highly-ranked and half now with significant experience. We'll be fine.