The dust has finally settled on a busy November and December for the Tennessee Volunteers. Here are some updates on players prepping for the NFL Draft, the beginning of the recruiting dead period and the finalized coaching staff.
It's not football time in Tennessee quite yet, but we're already getting geared up for it.
Underclassmen have until January 15th to decide whether or not they want to enter the NFL Draft. The Vols have Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Ja'Wuan James and Zach Fulton as potential early entrees.
The recruiting dead period has begun and will last until January 3rd. During this time, there can be no contact of any kind between coaches and recruits. Each side gets to consider all offers and make their next move.
Butch Jones promised to put together a staff of teachers, motivators and fundamentalists. As of yesterday, that staff is set and appears to be strong. Jones has brought in coaches who he has worked with, have southern/national recruiting experience and SEC ties.
Just because it's a relatively calm period for coaches doesn't mean it has to be for fans! Let's kick it off with the NFL Draft.
Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller, NFL Draft Lead Writer, has compiled a short list of underclassmen who have declared their eligibility for April's draft.
Included on that list is Tennessee's Justin Hunter, whose intentions to enter the NFL early became widely reported last week. Walter Football recently projected him to go at the end of the first round, while Scouts Inc. has him at No. 24 on their Top 32.
Cordarrelle Patterson's impending draft declaration is all but a sure thing.
Senior offensive lineman Dallas Thomas has seen his draft stock steadily rise all year. He started as a nice second-day pickup for NFL teams, but the Volunteer guard now joins Hunter on the Scouts Inc. Top 32.
Zach Fulton and Ja'Wuan James have both indicated that they will return to Knoxville next year.
Blessed to have another year to get better and another opportunity at winning a championship. I gotta take advantage of it.— Jawuan James (@JawuanJames70) December 17, 2012
Tennessee right guard Zach Fulton requested an evaluation from the NFL but will return next year, according to his father.— Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward) December 17, 2012
The coaching staff was officially finalized yesterday with the announcement of Zach Azzanni, formerly of Wisconsin, as Tennessee's new wide receivers coach.
Azzanni has coached under Urban Meyer and Butch Jones at Bowling Green, Florida and Central Michigan. Meyer has given Azzanni high praise, calling him "a tireless worker, relentless recruiter, and a great teacher of fundamentals."
Butch Jones has surrounded himself with a combination of familiarity from Central Michigan and Cincinnati, great recruiters, SEC experience and Volunteer tradition.
The coaching staff is as follows:
Head coach—Butch Jones (correctly spelled bUTch, mind you)
Offensive coordinator—Mike Bajakian
Defensive coordinator—John Jancek
Assistant head coach, defensive line—Steve Stripling
Recruiting coordinator, wide receivers—Zach Azzanni
Tight ends—Mark Elder
Running backs—Jay Graham
Offensive line—Don Mahoney
Strength and conditioning—Dave Lawson
Paul Harris, wide receiver, received a visit from Butch Jones and Jay Graham recently and has since doubled down on his commitment to Tennessee.
Athlete Jalen Reeves-Maybin has becoming an unofficial recruiter for the Volunteers after Jones was hired. Reeves-Maybin is one of those players who's a Tennessee guy through-and-through and doesn't need much encouragement to suit up in orange.
Lemond Johnson, defensive back from Florida, switched his commitment from Auburn to Tennessee yesterday. In doing so, he become the first Jones recruit for the Vols.
Alabama-based wide receiver Nate Andrews has offers from Florida State, Mississippi State and Louisville. You can add Tennessee to that list after Jones extended him an offer immediately after the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic.
Derrick Green, 5-star running back from Virginia, has been getting the full court press from Jones and Jay Graham to come to Tennessee. He has it narrowed down to Auburn, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oregon and Tennessee. Green is the top running back in the country and 14th-best player overall according to Rivals.