Head coach Butch Jones has done an incredible job recruiting for the Tennessee Volunteers since his hire last December. The Vols currently have the No.1 recruiting class for 2014, according to Rivals.com, and look to build on that momentum once the regular season begins.
Fans have dubbed the 2014 commits as the "Legacy class," with many of the prospects having family ties to the Tennessee football program.
Todd Kelly Jr., Dillon Bates and Neiko Creamer are all the sons of former Tennessee football starters. Vic Wharton also has ties to UT athletics, as his uncle was a member of the Tennessee men's basketball team from 1996-99.
The Vols are also making a strong push to gain commitments from Evan and Elliot Berry, the sons of former Tennessee running back James Berry and brothers of former all-american Eric Berry, who was a defensive captain for the Vols before declaring for the NFL draft as a junior. Many predict both Berrys will ultimately continue their family legacy and commit to the Vols' Legacy class.
Jones' stellar job on the recruiting trail can be viewed in many ways. He is very fortunate to have a pool of talented, second-generation players during his first full season with a new team.
Not to take anything away from the masterful job he's done thus far, but these players aren't just top-prospects with no allegiance to a program. These are players who have grown up in a household enriched in Tennessee football.
But the main takeaway from the Legacy class is that their families provide a benchmark example of what Jones will hope to accomplish. Tennessee is, historically, one of the most dominant programs in the SEC. The Vols rank second all-time in conference wins and championship victories.
This is a far cry from the current team that managed to win just one game in conference play last season.
The Vols have been stuck in rebuilding mode for several years, and many fans believe the 2014 recruiting class will be a major factor in the team's eventual turnaround. If Tennessee can return to dominance, their top-ranked recruiting class will be expected to carry the load.
Jones will receive a pass this season, as expectations aren't very high coming off a disappointing 2013 campaign. However, as his tenure continues, the team will need to improve drastically and the 2014 class will be the nucleus of the roster.
The recent struggle of the Vols has been a bitter pill to swallow and has left fans wanting more. The legacy class will play a major role in restoring the program of their fathers and bring Tennessee back to dominance.