Recruiting season never ends. Even as faxes from 2014 recruits were rolling into football offices, coaches across the country, including recruiting ace Tommy Thigpen, were making calls to 2015 prospects. With the usual caveats (injury, reevaluation, etc.), here's the first look at Tennessee's needs and targets for the 2015 recruiting cycle, with quarterbacks up first.
|10||Riley Ferguson||2||RS FR||0||0||3||0.8741|
|12||Nathan Peterman||3||RS SO||4||1||3||0.8884|
Tennessee will have an open competition for the starting quarterback position this spring, with the underwhelming trio of senior Justin Worley, redshirt sophomore Nathan Peterman, and sophomore Josh Dobbs competing against message board favorite Riley Ferguson. The situation for 2015 likely plays out the same way, regardless of who wins this year's derby: with Worley graduating, one of the three backup quarterbacks will transfer, with the primary backup in 2014 the heir apparent for 2015.
Most schools keep between 3-4 scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, signing a quarterback in every recruiting cycle. With Worley exhausting his eligibility at the end of this year and one of the remaining three quarterbacks likely to transfer, the Vols need to sign at least one quarterback in the 2015 class strictly from a numbers perspective. If the coaching staff sees developmental or injury setbacks from the quarterbacks currently on campus, the Vols could be in the market for multiple players, including a JUCO signee.
|Ricky Town||CA||PRO||None||5||0.9963||Y; USC|
|De'Andre Johnson||FL||DUAL||None||3||0.8811||Y; FSU|
Tennessee has offered scholarships to fourteen quarterbacks in the current cycle: 8 dual-threat, 6 pro-style, and one athlete. If that seems like a lot, well, less than half are probably committable1 at the current time. Tennessee will almost certainly take a smaller class in 2015, and the coaching staff increased the Vols' recruiting profile with the 2014 class.
Names to Know
Tennessee's top three uncommitted targets are all 5-star, national players. Josh Rosen, a pro-style quarterback from a prep powerhouse in Bellflower, California, is a tall, lanky prospect with a rocket arm and the top ranked quarterback in the nation. Although Tennessee has had success in the recent past recruiting California quarterbacks like Casey Clausen and Erik Ainge, Rosen is widely expected to stay on the west coast, where it looks like a battle between Stanford, UCLA, and Cal.
Torrance Gibson, a dual threat quarterback from Fort Lauderdale, FL, is a Terrell Pryor-clone who is equally dangerous with his legs and his arm. Gibson is a perfect fit for the spread offense head coach Butch Jones wants to run, but pulling him away from Miami (led by veteran south Florida recruiter James Coley) and Ohio State (where Urban Meyer is pitching him the Pryor comparisons hard) is probably too tough of a task.
Jarrett Stidham, a dual threat quarterback from Stephenville, TX, is an extremely talented passer who will need to work on his physique to withstand the pounding of major conference football. Stidham claims offers from Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M, among others, but seems to be more interested in the high-flying offenses at Baylor and Texas Tech. Tennessee is in hot pursuit of Stidham, pitching him on a combination of early playing time and the opportunity to be surrounded by talented skill position players like Marquez North, Josh Malone, and Jalen Hurd. If the Vols can show improvement on offense during spring practice, watch out.
Finally, keep an eye on athlete Jauan Jennings from Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Vanderbilt was heavily involved in recruiting him under former coach James Franklin, because many schools were recruiting Jennings as an athlete rather than strictly as a quarterback. With Franklin's move to Penn State, bet that primary recruiter Willie Martinez is turning up the heat on Jennings. If the Vols begin to pick up momentum with in-state prospects again, it will become very difficult for a player with mid-state connections like Jennings to turn down Tennessee.
1. For a textbook example of the difference between an offer and a committable offer, read this article from Recruiting Nation on CB Duke Shelley.↩
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