On your mark, get set-, GO! As national signing day approaches every major university that takes the field on Saturday have already been sharpening their talons perched atop their Athletic Director's roost, that includes Tennessee. On any given day in just about any living-room of any heavily recruited future All-American a recruiter will swoop in and boastfully exclaim ...
"Hey! Did you see what we did in our bowl game? Man you look good! How's your grandma? Man I just love Vampire Diaries, don't you? Hey by the way, do you Twitter? Can I add you to my Facebook friends? You know, I think you could start next year! I can see us changing our offense to work with your style! OK, gotta run. You know the next guy coming in here wants to redshirt you, right?"
Some say that Tennessee now has a different approach. Questions remain still about Derek Dooley, can he recruit? His attention to "three star" athletes and in some circumstances the much dreaded "n/r", have been in question, and continue to draw criticism and concern from the faithful and skeptics alike. But slowly, the pedigreed coach from the peach state is starting to make some sneaky moves around some familiar stomping ground, and doing so quietly.
When Coach Dooley manned the helm at Louisiana Tech, he had the freedom to stray into waters that were not so open under the watchful eye of Nick Saban. Venturing into the Long Star state, Dooley was able to pick away decent athletes that were passed over by more prolific universities, to snag up the highly coveted blue-chips.
Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M were able to do this and still leave plenty of scrapings for Dooley and company, and with little effort they managed to put together average recruiting classes, never having to venture more than few hundred miles in any direction.
A few things have changed since then; bargaining power is now an issue when Dooley assumes the position. He is undeniably a wolf in sheep's clothing for many universities that still see his warm demeanor instead of an SEC shark circling the recruiting waters.
Much is the case for a new recruit that Dooley and OC Chaney seem hell bent on landing. Jeremiah Briscoe (2012 prospect) a 6-4 200 lb. pro-style QB from Second Baptist High School in Houston, Texas who has been compared as an emerging Vince Young.
Baylor has already offered, and it's rumored that Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, LSU, Mississippi, Texas Tech, and Washington are ready to pull the trigger on the No.13-rated Scout.com QB. He could be counted among the many of Texas blue-chips to find their way into the land of orange and mist-shrouded mountains.
Another questionable pursuit is Dooley's fascination with the super fast Plano High School, CB Corey Bassett who has clocked 4.3 times on more than one occasion. It's not a question of whether or not he's fast, just the underlying fact he is not on any body's radar but Dooley's.
Is Dooley and company that good at discovering talent or is Tennessee doomed to wait and see? The biggest question that worries any Vol fan is "who does it spell d-o-o-m for, them or their opponent?
There is a silver lining for Vol fans though; if you take the time to look at any 2011 prospect boards, Tennessee is listed alongside the names of every major university offering scholarships to the top-tiered athletes in the country, whether they land a healthy portion of them is another matter.
Again the sometime obscure fact is Lance Thompson (2008 Rivals BCS recruiter of the year) and Terry Joesph (Top 5 non-BCS recruiter 2008) are out there doing what Dooley needs them to be doing; getting exposure, and dropping Tennessee's name in the hat of any and every hopeful parent that sends their sons off to be groomed for the NFL, and if they're lucky, earn a piece of lamb skin that says Billy is educated.
One more thing—since the beginning of the 2011 early commits this summer, there has not been a single athlete to de-committ from their agreement to play at Tennessee. In fact it's Dooley's first real recruiting class without having to weed through Kiffin's leftovers.
With National Signing Day looming around the corner and about a dozen more scholarships to fill, it will be an extraordinary achievement for Dooley to keep them all, three-star or not.