We can now confidently say this — Tennessee’s recruiting budget is not holding back the football program. Not that we were necessarily worried about that particular issue, of course.
USA Today reported on Tuesday that Tennessee spent the third most money nationally on football recruiting during the 2018 fiscal year, totaling just over two million dollars. That money was spent mainly on the 2019 class, which featured four top 50 signings. Tennessee finished the cycle ranked 12th nationally by 247 Sports, a respectable finish for a program that won just nine combined games over the last two seasons.
A couple of SEC rivals — Georgia and Alabama — were the only ones to check in ahead of Tennessee. Here’s a look at the top ten.
1. Georgia — $2.626 million
2. Alabama — $2.344 million
3. Tennessee — $2.002 million
4. Texas — $1.823 million
5. Clemson — $1.790 million
6. Texas A&M — $1.710 million
7. Florida State — $1.581 million
8. Michigan — $1.397 million
9. Penn State — $1.369 million
10. LSU — $1.287 million
Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer was quoted for the story, giving a unique perspective from a couple of different sides of the equation.
“As we build our program back and show young people that we’re for real again,” Fulmer said, “our facility and tradition and history and all those things are still very much intact. Our goal is to get back competing at the top of the league. Nobody is going to roll over and just play dead and let us do that, so we’ve got to fight and get there.”
USA Today also reported that Tennessee was the only school in the SEC to surpass the million dollar mark per year for recruiting during the final three years of Fulmer’s tenure as Tennessee’s head coach. Tennessee remains a leader in that category, though the results haven’t been there for the past decade.
Toss in facility upgrades into this equation and you’ve got a total arms race in the college football world, all centered around recruiting. Maybe that investment will start paying off soon for the University of Tennessee.