Tennessee Football Recruiting: Grading The Vols' 2011 Class
After a trying and roller coaster-like first season at the helm for Tennessee, head coach Derek Dooley turned his sights to the recruiting trail.
After seeing much improvement over the second half of the 2010 season, Dooley and Co. were hoping to carry the momentum over to the recruiting season's final push in December and January.
Competing on the field and on the recruiting trail against perennial powers like Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Florida, et. al., Tennessee needed to make a splash with immediate-impact players.
Here is how we see the Tennessee 2011 recruiting class as National Signing Day 2011 wraps up:
Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 6'0", 170 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Arnett seems to be a perfect candidate to succeed at the next level. The only question that remains is when. He has a fluid running style and seems to catch the ball with ease. His size is certainly an issue, but he surely has the ability to add bulk and become an even more dangerous threat as an all-around wide out.
Does It Fill a Void?: Not immediately. The Tennessee offensive averaged an impressive 255 yards per game last year, which put the Vols 30th in the country. That said, Arnett can certainly fill in on special teams if he doesn't red shirt.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Ht/Wt: 6'6", 310 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Richardson is considered a 4-star recruit by most recruiting outlets and can jump right in at Tennessee next year. While he can surely improve his pass protection, Richardson is a force in the running game with tremendous power.
Does It Fill a Void?: Yes. The Vols managed just 109 yards per game last year, ranking 105th in the nation, and will certainly see an added boost from the space taken up by the people-mover Richardson.
Position: Outside Linebacker
Ht/Wt: 6'3", 200 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Recruited as a linebacker, Maggitt possesses plenty of skills to be a force on the defensive side of the ball for the Vols. While he'll need to add bulk to make an impact at linebacker, his impressive speed and unique build make him a dangerous weapon on special teams and defense.
Does It Fill a Void?: Maggitt's unique blend of speed, power and playmaking ability make him as versatile as they come. He'll surely fill a void immediately on special teams and on the defensive unit in due time.
Position: Inside Linebacker
Ht/Wt: 6'2", 225 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Johnson will fit in nicely on the edge for the Vols. His athleticism, size and speed will give him the ability to play either inside or outside at the next level.
Does It Fill a Void?: Along with Curt Maggitt, Johnson provides the Vols' 2011 recruiting class with a presence at the linebacker position. Johnson's immediate impact ability and versatility will surely fill a void next fall for Tennessee.
Position: Running Back
Ht/Wt: 6'0", 200 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Lane is considered a Top 15 running back by ESPN.com and will provide the Vols with a powerful option in the running game. He can get the ball outside with decent speed but is more impactful running between the tackles.
Does It Fill a Void?: Tennessee returns senior Tauren Poole, who ran for 1,034 yards last year in his first season of full-time action. Lane will be a terrific second option as a freshman and will develop the Volunteers' feature back.
Ht/Wt: 5'11", 200 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Martin is as well-rounded as they come at the safety position. He does everything well and has the size and speed suitable for the position. His all-around talent could warrant him immediate playing time.
Does It Fill a Void?: Defensively, the Vols could certainly use the help. Having allowed an average of 25 points per game, there is always room for improvement. Martin's biggest impact, though, is felt on the recruiting class, which has two stellar safeties between him and Geraldo Orta.
Ht/Wt: 5'11", 180 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Orta is a perfect counterpart for Martin in the 2011 recruiting class' secondary. Like Martin, Orta is a well-balanced recruit that brings a well-developed game to Tennessee.
Does It Fill a Void?: Again, Orta joins Martin in what will undoubtedly be a foundation secondary for the Vols in years to come.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Ht/Wt: 6'5", 305 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Posey seems like the perfect sidekick for Antonio Richardson. While Richardson figures to be an immediate impact in the running game, Posey has the athleticism and explosion to maintain an immediate presence in pass protection.
Does It Fill a Void?: Posey's presence in the 2011 Tennessee recruiting class provides the Vols with two Top 15 players at the offensive tackle position.
Ht/Wt: 6'4", 200 pounds
Where He Fits in Best: Worley is a pocket passer in every sense of the phrase. He has good height and the arm to make all the throws. He'll fill in nicely in the mix under center along with Tyler Bray and Matt Simms.
Does It Fill a Void?: With the late-season switch from Matt Simms to Tyler Bray, there are certainly questions that remain at the quarterback position for Tennessee. Worley will add depth to a position in question for the Vols.
All told, head coach Derek Dooley and Co. compiled a solid class.
Only time will tell, however, if the Volunteers did enough to compete with Auburn, Alabama, LSU and the other perennial powers in the SEC.
Regardless, the Vols did, in fact, acquire a handful of top recruits and seem poised to continue their upward swing following a late-season surge.
Overall Grade: B+