Tennessee Recruiting: What Loss of 5-Star Vonn Bell Means for Butch Jones

Daniel HudsonCorrespondent IIIFebruary 6, 2013


After weeks of hoping, wishing and even some praying, the Tennessee Volunteers have missed out on 5-star safety Vonn Bell. He chose Ohio State this morning on ESPNU.

I consider myself (perhaps boastfully) a moderating force in conversations about the Vols. Things like "Derek Dooley is an excellent coach!" or "We're going to win every game next year!" are quickly refuted.

But my honest belief was that Bell would choose Tennessee, and he didn't. It's a huge blow to the national signing day wishes for the team and its fans. Let's pause for a moment and shake our heads...

Pause a little longer...

Just a bit longer...

Alright, now we can look at the situation and accurately assess it. Bell is an elite-level player, and Tennessee would've been lucky to have him, but the Vols are blessed with tons of talent at safety.

And no, this isn't a sappy way to make everyone feel better. Just a few days ago, I gushed about the talent and depth of the safeties on the roster. With Brian Randolph, Byron Moore, LaDarrel McNeil, Brent Brewer and Jalen Reeves-Maybin all on the team, safety is simply not a position of need.

Is that to say that the Vols wouldn't have loved to land Bell? Of course not. It's saying that losing Bell is not a program-changing disaster for Butch Jones. It is just a disappointment for fans that will lead to a mildly boring national signing day.

You have to wonder what could have been had Bell not been inexplicably ignored by the previous coaching staff. In less than two months, Jones got the Vols from irrelevance to No. 2 in Bell's eyes.

Tennessee, in fact, has been No. 2 in a lot of recruits' eyes, including Carl Lawson and EJ Levenberry. The Vols just need that extra push.

So what does all of this mean for Jones?

It means that he needs to take the players he has and perform this fall. Win six, seven or eight games and come back strong on the recruiting trail, a la Ole Miss. It took more than a year for Tennessee to fall into limbo, and it will take more than a year (or two months, in this case) to get them out.

The right guy is there to get it done.