Tennessee Football Recruiting: What Has to Happen Before National Signing Day
We have one week until National Signing Day, and there's still plenty to do. The Tennessee Volunteers have taken fans on quite the roller coaster ride this offseason, beginning with the Kentucky loss and continuing with the replacement of a slew of positions coaches.
Finally solidified with a fresh coaching staff, it's time to finish a good recruiting class off.
After a Top 10 recruiting class turned into No. 24, the staff was able to boost it back to its current No. 11 ranking. We're down to the grind of recruiting. It's make-or-break.
What do the coaches need to do? What players need extra encouragement to sign? Are there any sleepers that might sign with the Vols?
Here are five things that fans would like to see happen before Signing Day.
Jay Graham Snags a Running Back
This one is a bit of a long shot, but there's a reason the Tennessee Volunteers hired Jay Graham to coach running backs. And it's not totally because he's a great coach, which he is.
Graham also got Marcus Lattimore to South Carolina two years ago and is working hard to reestablish the ground game for the Vols.
Athlete Davante Bourque is expected to play running back, but at 6'3", he's certainly not the prototypical frame. I'm happy to have him, but another powerful runner would be gravy.
Enter Mike Davis, who is, ironically enough, a future Gamecock at the moment. He's from Georgia, so leaving home isn't an issue.
Let's see what happens with one last push.
Convince Jacoby Briscoe to Visit Tennessee Soon
The Vols got into the game late on defensive tackle Jacoby Briscoe, who currently committed to Miami.
Whether it's because he's tired of the ocean or if his buddy (Davante Bourque) is telling him good things about Knoxville, Briscoe is considering taking his talents away from South Beach.
I like the way that sounds for so many reasons.
As per Scout, Tennessee coaches visited with Briscoe recently and are hoping to have him come visit Tennessee before signing anywhere.
Successfully recruiting Briscoe would turn a once-weak defensive tackle position into a potential strength for the Vols.
Solidify Dalton Santos' Commitment
This once-hidden gem of a linebacker is no longer hidden. Texas high-school standout Dalton Santos finally received an offer from the Longhorns and is now wavering on his commitment to the Vols.
Don't let the message boards deceive you; Santos is an excellent player who has been committed to Tennessee since August, and it would be a shame to lose him now.
New defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri is scheduled to meet with him in Texas on Wednesday—a week before Signing Day—which will most likely be the last chance a Vols coach gets to make a face-to-face sales pitch to Santos for sticking with the Big Orange.
Sunseri needs to stress the fact that Tennessee wanted him from the very beginning and that Texas is just trying to salvage a few positions that didn't swing their way with other recruits.
With the Vols going to a 3-4 defense next year, Santos could see big minutes as a freshman. The coaches need to make sure he knows it.
Get Late-Night Word That Cordarrelle Patterson Will Be a Vol
As good as the Tennessee Vols' passing game is, it could take a huge hit after the 2012 season with the potential departure of Tyler Bray, Da'Rick Rogers and/or Justin Hunter.
If each has a good season, they might all be gone! While I don't see that happening, I do think at least one will head for the NFL. That means there are a few holes to fill at wide receiver.
Cordarrelle Patterson is the top JUCO wide receiver and the fourth-ranked JUCO player overall. Patterson is interested in LSU, Auburn and Georgia, among others, but there is only one quarterback that can sling it like Bray (two...Tyler Wilson at Arkansas), and that should appeal to the outstanding wideout.
Derek Dooley Signs Every Committed Player
Unlike most years, I'd be quite happy if Derek Dooley doesn't steal anyone else's recruits on National Signing Day, while at the same time making sure no one steals his.
The class is complete with literally every single position having been addressed—and with 10 four-stars nonetheless.
With all of the chatter going on around the conference about who is and isn't on the hot seat, it would be an impressive feat to reel in a third straight Top 15 class, considering the team's record of 18-20 over that period at Tennessee.
They may be slightly more respectable than in recent years, but Vanderbilt still has a long way to go to rule this state.