Over the last two to three weeks, recruiting news has been predicably slow. There's no rush for anybody but the early enrollees, and even then, there's no real need to solidify any decisions until high school football seasons are over. Today's big news was the decommitment of DeMarco Cobbs, who has now pledged his hand to UT the Younger. Other than that, there really hasn't been a significant change in the status of Tennessee commits for a while (which is why there hasn't been recruiting updates for a while).
But going forward, it's time to focus recruiting attention onto the two most immediate topics: the search for offensive linemen and the visitors to the Tennessee Volunteers - South Carolina Gamecocks Halloween game.
View Rocky Top Talk Tennessee Volunteers Recruiting Big Board 2010 in a larger map
It is certainly not groundbreaking news that Tennessee needs linemen in a big way. 3 out of 5 starters on the line will be gone next year, and one other is a junior. Additionally, there is a decided shortfall in offensive linemen over the last couple of recruiting classes, which was a major part of the reason that Aaron Douglas was moved over to the line from tight end.
The stage is set for UT to make very significant improvements in offensive line play over the next couple of years - and for 2010 commits to play a large role in that improvement. For one, the current coaching staff has gotten a lot of mileage out of the current unit, which features two decidedly undersized walk-on starters in the Sullins twins. You have to applaud the Sullinses for their efforts, as they are really playing up to their potential, but adding some more natural athletes (hopefully with that same work ethic) will raise the ceiling on line play, which is something that Brown and Oku must be dreaming about when they think of their junior seasons.
But the other motive is the playing time, which will be on a fire sale over the summer. Replacing Chris Scott will be the biggest hurdle, as he has been an absolute anchor at left tackle. Aaron Douglas should slide into that position, leaving the right tackle position open for the best athlete of the bunch. After that, the spring camp will focus on replacing the center, as Cody Sullins will be departing.
Names to keep an ear out for are: Chaz Green of Tampa, Florida, Matt James of Cincinnati, Ohio, JaWuan James of North Gwinnett, Georgia, Damien Robinson of Olive Branch, Misssissippi, and James Stone of Nashville, Tennessee. The staff may be a little cooler on Stone than people think, given his less-than-expected year so far. Chaz was long thought to be a Florida Gator in waiting, but appears very much in play. JaWuan James used to be committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide, and most rumormongerers anticipate him choosing Tennessee over the Georgia Bulldogs, but nothing is in stone here.
I think we'll get two out of that lot, though I don't know which two. And that should be plenty.
The South Carolina Game
This weekend, nine (!) prospects will be in town on official visits:
- Ken Adams - JUCO tight end / defensive end
- Demar Dorsey - a safety currently listed as a Florida Gators commit
- Chris Dunkley - a 5'-11" wide receiver from Pahokee
- Christian Jones - a linebacker from Winter Park, Florida
- Ted Meline - one of Tennessee's current wide receiver commits (from Miami)
- Dequan Menzie - a cornerback from Misssissippi
- Corey Miller - a defensive end from South Carolina (same school as Brandon Willis)
- Terrence Mitchell - a cornerback from Tampa, Florida,
- Brandon Willis - a defensive tackle from South Carolina
Four unofficial visitors are also expected:
- Christian Bryant - a cornerback from Cleveland Ohio (same high school as Mike Edwards)
- C.J. Mosley - a linebacker from Theodore, Alabama
- Drew Phillips - a running back from Boaz, Alabama, and a BYU Cougars commit
- Jacques Smith - Ooltewah native and Tennessee recruiter extraordinaire
You'll note that, of all the visitors this weekend, none are expected to be offensive linemen. Chaz Green was rumored to be coming with his parents on an unofficial, but that seems to be not happening this time around. After that - yes, there is a Florida commit in the ranks. That's not a big deal, as commits take officials to other schools all the time. Hey, I'd do it too, if somebody was paying my way. I have no idea if Dorsey is here for subversive reasons and I'm not going to assume so, but even if he hypothetically were, he's going to be head-to-head with Jacques Smith, who has been absolutely lights-out in promoting Tennessee.
But with so many visitors in town, it is imperative that the Vols fans show some class at the game. I don't think it'll be a problem, as the relatively good nature of the UT fanbase was one of the things that attracted me to the team in the first place, but you never do know. Let Neyland be rockin', and let this be the best Halloween game of the day.