published Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Vols coaches not off from recruiting this weekend

UT quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw gives instructions Saturday during the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium.
UT quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw gives instructions Saturday during the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TENNESSEE'S CURRENT CLASS OF 2012 PUBLIC COMMITMENT LIST


ATH Cody Blanc

Knoxville (Central)

6-1, 190 Rivals: 2 stars

What to know: Blanc, who's missed time with ankle injury this season, does a little of everything for Central, but he projects as a safety in college.

WR Drae Bowles

Jackson, Tenn. (Jackson Christian)

6-1, 198 Rivals: 4 stars

What to know: Bowles had scholarship offers from Auburn, Arkansas, California, Michigan and Notre Dame, among others.

K George Bullock

Knoxville (West)

6-1, 195 Rivals: 2 stars

What to know: Bullock kicked at UT's camp in July and earned a scholarship offer with his performance.

DB Kenneth Crawley

Washington (H.D. Woodson)

6-1, 170 Rivals: 4 stars

What to know: The Vols grabbed the long, athletic cornerback over a handful of schools, including Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech.

WR Jason Croom

Norcross, Ga. (Norcross)

6-5, 212 Rivals: 4 stars

What to know: His basketball skills and size could spell a future at receiver or tight end; he announced to UT over Mississippi State before his team's season opener.

RB Imani Cross

Gainesville, Ga. (North Hall)

6-1, 220 Rivals: 3 stars

What to know: Cross's early decision -- he was UT's first commitment back in February -- has allowed him to have a productive start to his senior year.

LB Khalid Henderson

Austell, Ga. (Pebblebrook)

6-1, 200 Rivals: 3 stars

What to know: Henderson earned his scholarship offer during one of UT's summer camps.

RB Alden Hill

Alliance, Ohio (Marlington)

6-2, 220 Rivals: 3 stars

What to know: Hill was the offensive player of the year last year in Ohio's third-largest classification, and he's run for nearly 700 yards in four games this year.

DT Damien Jacobs

Scooba, Miss. (East Mississippi CC)

6-4, 290 Rivals: 4 stars

What to know: Jacobs hails from the same junior college as 2011 defensive back signee Izauea Lanier and 2012 defensive end target Denico Autry.

ATH Justin King

Dunwoody, Ga. (Dunwoody)

6-3, 215 Rivals: 3 stars

What to know: King plays quarterback for the Wildcats, but he projects as a college linebacker.

DE LaTroy Lewis

Akron, Ohio (Hoban)

6-4, 230 Rivals: 3 stars

What to know: Lewis, a Vols priority who had an offer from Ohio State, is out for the season with a broken bone in his foot.

DB LaDarrell McNeil

Dallas (Wilmer-Hutchins)

6-1, 190 Rivals: 4 stars

What to know: The Dallas-area safety, who was coveted by BCS schools across the country, might be the Vols' biggest surprise, tabbing UT over Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, LSU and others.

QB Nathan Peterman

Fruit Cove, Fla. (Bartram Trail)

6-2, 205 Rivals: 4 stars

What to know: He earned a scholarship offer during one of UT's summer camps. He's thrown for nine touchdowns in three games this season.

LB Otha Peters

Covington, La. (Covington)

6-1, 221 Rivals: 4 stars

What to know: Peters was another one of UT's top targets at a key position of need.

WR Keithon Redding

Decatur, Ga. (Columbia)

6-0, 190 Rivals: 3 stars

What to know: Redding chose UT over offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and others.

LB Dalton Santos

Van, Texas (Van)

6-2, 245 Rivals: 3 stars

What to know: ESPN's top-rated inside linebacker has the size that this UT staff wants in its linebackers. He had offers from Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma and chose the Vols over Texas A&M.

KNOXVILLE -- Saturdays are hectic enough for Peter Sirmon.

That's when all the hard work and preparation Tennessee's linebackers coach puts in during the week pays off one way or another with the current Volunteers.

On Friday nights, though, Sirmon and a handful of other UT assistant coaches switch their focus to the program's future and go to high school football games across the region.

"I enjoy going out there on Friday nights," Sirmon said this week. "Who doesn't like watching high school football games? That's a piece of America."

The extra late-week travel the night before the Vols take to the field is also just a piece of UT's year-round recruiting. It's a process that only slightly slows down during the season when most of the focus and energy is focused on developing the players already in the program.

Recruits come on visits on home-game weekends and the assistant coaches travel on Fridays, but the actual legwork is a daily routine.

"We do a little bit of recruiting every day," said Terry Joseph, UT's secondary coach and recruiting coordinator. "A lot of it's blocked out on our schedule, but Coach [Derek Dooley] expects every coach to do a little bit of recruiting every day, and that way we can keep up on it. We have a great recruiting office and support staff who kind of helps us get everything in order to where the coach can come in and all the information's there."

From evaluating prospects to contacting coaches and players, it's all a team effort. The coordinators do more game planning during the season, though, leaving much of the traveling up to the assistants, who have just a little more time and flexibility.

"It's like shaving: If you don't do it, it shows," said quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, another one of UT's assistants who travels every weekend. "We're constantly waking up every day and thinking how do we make this football team better."

UT is off this weekend, but that doesn't change the routine for the usual travelers: Sirmon said he'll return to Knoxville this weekend the same time he would if the Vols were playing. The open date has, however, given Dooley the opportunity to do some indirect recruiting. The second-year coach will be in the CBS studios Saturday as an on-air guest during the pregame, halftime and postgame shows for the matchup between 14th-ranked Arkansas and third-ranked Alabama.

"I hope I don't embarrass the program, that's all I can tell you," Dooley quipped Thursday. "This is my first experience doing it. I think it's good for Tennessee. That's why I'm doing it. Any time we can get our program talked about nationally in a positive way, I'm all for it."

The Vols have 16 public commitments for the 2012 signing class, and Sirmon has done well in his first cycle as a full-time recruiter. The former NFL linebacker came to UT last season as a graduate assistant, and Dooley promoted him to the full-time staff in the offseason.

Each coach is responsible for a specific region, though there's considerable overlap among the staff in building relationships with recruits. Sirmon's region includes Virginia and Ohio, where UT has landed three commitments. UT also has landed a quartet of linebackers.

"I think what I've learned is you've got to be who you are," Sirmon said. "That's the only way you can be consistent. If you try to put on a show, it's hard to put on a show every day and be the same guy. I think you've got to embrace who you are and hopefully that resonates with the people you're trying to recruit."

With more than four months until signing day in February, the Vols' focus certainly will be on closing out this class. But Sirmon, Joseph and Hinshaw all noted the importance of focusing on high school juniors and sophomores. For a staff that stresses relationships with recruits over time, evaluating and connecting with prospects for future classes is certainly important.

"We want to be ahead on 2013 and 2014," Joseph said.

That's done on a daily basis.

"We have designated times throughout the day when we're doing opponent work, we're working on ourselves or we're doing recruiting," Sirmon said. "You budget it throughout the day, and when that time's appropriated, you've got to to use it and be diligent about reaching out to some of the younger guys and trying to get them excited about Tennessee."

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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