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Did the Tennessee Volunteers "win" National Signing Day?

Talking Points for 2/4/10, with links and excerpts below the jump:

  1. Did Tennessee "win" National Signing Day?
  2. Are we getting too carried away with recruiting?
  3. Is defensive back Eddrick Loften better than Michael Huff, a Thorpe Award winner?
  4. Just who is Justin Wilcox, besides Tennessee's new defensive coordinator?
  5. Oh, and there's a basketball game tonight against LSU and Tasmin Mitchell.

USC, Tennessee survive craziness of coaching carousel - Matt Hayes - College Football - Sporting News
Dooley was hired on Jan.15, and had all of one day to convince eight mid-term enrollees, including potential starting quarterback Matt Simms, to stick with their commitment and sign with the Vols. He then had to address a fractured program (and the remainder of the recruiting class) falling apart because of a coaching search that included too many public rejections—and one seemingly odd hire. Dooley wasn't Tennessee's first choice, nor the second or even third. You could argue that he was, more than anything, the panic choice. And now look: If this remarkable recruiting recovery is an indicator of things to come on the field, maybe Tennessee found the right guy. It's way too early and recruiting rankings are notoriously overblown, but you have to start somewhere. And considering where the Vols were three short weeks ago, what Dooley and his staff accomplished is staggering. "It's shocking because of name recognition," said Sporting News recruiting expert Brian McLaughlin. "How many of those big (recruits) knew of Derek Dooley at Louisiana Tech?"

Signing day notes -
Winners Tennessee: Never mind Derek Dooley’s closing job. The recruiting class just became that much better. A Boise television station reported Tuesday night and ESPN said Wednesday that Boise defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is headed to Tennessee. Wilcox is one of the young up and comers. He was a short timer at Boise after his unit shut down Oregon and TCU on national television. The 33-year-old has coordinated the Broncos D for the last four seasons. Boise led the WAC in scoring defense and total defense in each of those four seasons. The Oregon grad also worked at Cal before for three years as linebackers coach before coming to Boise for the second time in 2006.

Twitter / Steve McDuffie : Herbstreet just said The V ...
Herbstreet just said The Vols won Signing Day. And The QB was one to watch.

Adams: Despite upheaval, class maintains dignity " GoVolsXtra
The program has lost at least six games in three of the last five seasons and has had three different head coaches in 15 months. Yet it hasn't lost its allure to recruits from all over the country. . . . . I'm not suggesting that a 100,000-seat stadium, state-of-the art facilities and great tradition right all wrongs. But they combine for a wonderfully large safety net.

Receiver U wide open for business " GoVolsXtra
New coach Derek Dooley tried to downplay recruiting rankings and any individual projections for his hastily assembled first class, but with at least one position that combination was hard to ignore. Headlined by Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, the program formerly known as Wide Receiver U lived up to its billing, perhaps landing the best haul of targets in the nation during Wednesday's National Signing Day. "I think every year you're always looking for game-changing, play-making offensive weapons," Dooley said. "You're looking really for every position, but certainly when it gets down there in the fourth quarter and it gets tight, usually the guys on the perimeter, or a running back, quarterback, receiver, those are the guys that go and win the game for you.

Dooley tempers talk of top 15 signing class " GoVolsXtra
Led by Dooley, the Vols finished the day with 25 signees, ranking ninth, 11th and 15th nationally by, ESPN and, respectively. Still, Dooley tried to temper the enthusiasm during his signing-day press conference at Neyland Stadium. "I think it's a little bit jumping the gun to get so excited for signing day even though I think it's a great event for the fans," he said.

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Smokey and the bandit
"It's challenging, but that's what you're dealt with, so you can't whine, and you can't complain," Dooley said of the past weeks' obstacles. "When I took the job, I didn't go, 'Well, that's not fair.' You know what you're getting into. There's nothing you can do to look back and say, 'Gosh this,' or, 'Gosh that.' I'm happy with the class that we got. There's going to be challenges in everything. We're going to have challenges in a game. Welcome to life. You have challenges. Things don't always work out the way you want it, and so you just figure out your solution to the next thing. That's what we try to do. "There's challenges, but there were some advantages. Let's don't lose sight that we got some guys who weren't interested in this place for other reasons. James Stone's a classic example. For every time you complain about, 'Well, we lost this guy,' well, we also got rewarded, too. It all evens out. It really does."

Missing football due to academics was humbling experience for Dixon " GoVolsXtra
Hohenberger (Eddrick Loften's high school coach) said Loften is also the best defensive back he's ever coached. That group includes Oakland Raiders safety Michael Huff, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back at Texas in 2005. Hohenberger said Loften is a better prospect than Huff was when he left Nimitz for Texas in 2002. "It's not even close," Hohenberger said.

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Wiedmer: Emotions too dependent on 18-year-olds
But to prove it's everywhere, especially in the South, consider this newspaper's Web site. During a 24-hour period between Sunday evening and Monday evening, UT beat writer Wes Rucker's story on Rogers attending Sunday's Tennessee-Florida basketball game drew 4,321 hits. In second place was the obituary section with 1,936 hits. The third-most read story was a second Rucker recruiting story.

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Wilcox heads to UT
Wilcox has earned a reputation for outside-the-box thinking -- something that's been encouraged for years at Boise -- and the Fiesta Bowl win over TCU last month was the most recent example. Wilcox redesigned the Broncos' base into a version of the 3-2-6, and the new look held the previously-undefeated Horned Frogs to 272 yards and 10 points. "His ability to be multiple was a factor, but it wasn't the determining factor," Dooley said. "His core was the difference. There's a lot of guys that can go out there and draw that stuff up. They can move this guy here, put that guy here, and then they go clinic around the country, and everybody says he's a guru. But a good coach, there's a lot that goes into it. How does he communicate? How does he teach? What are the expectations you're going to set? How does he react when a guy is not performing well? What does he do when it gets tough? What does he do when things happen and don't go his way? "There's so many other intangible values that I look for in a coach more so than, 'He dropped that end, and boy, that was a good scheme right there.' We can watch somebody else and get that."

Dooley says Wilcox 'right person' for Vols " GoVolsXtra
Notable: While working with the Broncos over the last four seasons, the team went 49-4 and Wilcox capped his stint there by shutting down high-powered TCU in a victory at the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State ranked third in the nation in points allowed while rolling to a perfect 14-0 record last season.

Vols get defensive with Boise State coordinator Wilcox " GoVolsXtra
"It’s an unbelievable opportunity," Wilcox said. "I’m really humbled to be considered and for coach Dooley to offer me the job. Boise State is an incredible place and I really wasn’t looking to leave there. All this happened pretty fast. "But after talking with coach Dooley and a couple of the other coaches, and getting a feel for the way he wants to model the program and a lot of the philosophies he has, I just felt like it was a great opportunity at an unbelievable place in terms of the tradition. I think it’s just one of those things that was too good to pass up and I’m excited to be here."

Prince gets tough assignment against LSU " GoVolsXtra
Prince, in particular, should; he'll play his share of defense against LSU's do-everything forward, 6-foot-7, 245-pound Tasmin Mitchell. It could prove to be the key matchup for 14th-ranked UT (16-4, 4-2 SEC) against the Tigers (9-12, 0-7) at the Maravich Assembly Center tonight (TV: ESPN2, 9 p.m.). Mitchell leads LSU in scoring (17.9 points per game), rebounds (9.6) and 3-point shooting (.321).