published Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Recruiting rollover: New coaching staff giving Vols a new look heading into National Signing Day

University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones.
University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

AS THE RECRUITING CLASS TURNS ...

Here are the nine 2013 recruits who were publicly committed to Tennessee but will sign elsewhere on national signing day and when they committed both to the Vols and their new destinations.

Pos // Prospect // High School/JUCO // Commit Date // New school // Switch date

WR // Camion Patrick // Knoxville West (Tenn.) // 1/28/12 // East Mississippi C.C. // 12/17/12

LB // Dominic Zanca // Lake Brantley (Fla.) // 4/20/12 // Duke // 12/11/12

LB // De'Vondre Campbell // Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C. // 5/4/12 // Kansas State // 1/15/13

S // Kameron Miles // West Mesquite (Tex.) // 5/21/12 // Texas A&M // 11/14/12

LB // Zach Barnes // Grayson (Ga.) // 6/14/12 // Texas Tech // 1/29/13

DL // Ben Bradley // Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C. // 6/15/12 // Auburn // 1/7/13

OT // Dan Skipper // Ralston Valley (Colo.) // 6/26/12 // Arkansas // 1/28/13

LB // Colton Goeas // St. Louis (Hawaii) // 7/20/12 // Kansas // 1/3/13

TE // Chauntez Jackson // Inglewood (Calif.) // 10/13/12 // Houston // 1/15/13

KNOXVILLE — If college football recruiting is a fluid operation, then Tennessee's 2013 class has resembled a running faucet over the past three months.

The list of prospects new coach Butch Jones will add on national signing day next Wednesday will look very different from the commitment list former coach Derek Dooley complied in November.

Nine players once verbally committed to the Volunteers will end up elsewhere, and though class turnover is common when there's a coaching change, the Tennessee class has seen more movement than a usual transition.

"I think that's a pretty high number, but I think that is maybe a little bit of a misleading number because when Butch Jones took over, they're instituting a new offensive system [and] a new defensive [with] total turnover on the coaching staff," said Barton Simmons, a national recruiting analyst for 247sports.com.

"I think the high number is due not only to some guys choosing to go a different direction or following previous coaches, ... but also Butch Jones and his staff making their own personnel changes to fit their own system. I think a lot of that was kind of some housecleaning and sort of getting in guys they're comfortable with and letting guys sort of know that they're going a different direction. Some of those guys they'd love to have back, but several of those nine I think are guys that were kind of encouraged to look elsewhere."

Of the nine prospects to leave Tennessee's commitment list, only three will end up in the SEC, and one of those prospects, safety Kameron Miles, flipped to Texas A&M when the home-state Aggies offered him a scholarship in mid-November before Tennessee fired Dooley.

Offensive tackle Dan Skipper, who flipped to Arkansas this week, followed former Vols offensive line coach Sam Pittman to the Razorbacks, as has four-star offensive lineman Reeve Koehler, for whose services the Vols led while Pittman was on staff.

Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College defenders Ben Bradley and De'Vondre Campbell elected to go elsewhere when graduate assistant Brandon Staley, Hutchinson's former defensive coordinator, wasn't retained.

Four-star Knoxville receiver Camion Patrick took the junior-college route after transferring twice during his high-school career.

"If you're taking over a class at a program that's got a top-20-, top-15-type class," Simmons said, "then I think it's a lot easier to keep that class on board because those are guys that most coaches are going to want to keep."

ESPN ranked Tennessee's class 28th nationally when Dooley was dismissed, and the Vols currently sit 33rd in those same rankings. Rivals (45th), Scout (47th) and 247sports (37th) -- the other three main recruiting services -- currently rank the Vols' class lower.

Since taking the job, Jones has landed seven new commitments, including two defensive backs who enrolled early and four-star receiver Ryan Jenkins. Jones also shored up the pledge from Jason Carr, the Vols' long-time defensive end commitment from Memphis.

Jones and his staff have managed to get a handful of touted recruits to campus for official visits this month, but the big question is how many of those recruits will Tennessee be able to land.

"With a week left, you have a good idea about who's going to end up at Alabama and who's going to end up at Georgia, but with Tennessee it's hard," Scout analyst Jamie Newberg said. "The first class in a coaching transition is always the hardest. You've got a bunch of coaches up there who didn't recruit these kids when they were at Cincinnati, and they're going up against other staffs who have been very familiar with these kids.

"It's a hard dynamic in a short amount of time, and Arkansas is going through the same thing."

Aside from Lagrange (Ga.) defensive end Joe Sanders, who reportedly was visiting a Mississippi junior college last week, the defections should be complete for Tennessee's class. Five prospects already have enrolled in spring classes. None of the 11 commitments appear to be wavering.

That's unlike last year, when long-time linebacker commitments Dalton Santos and Otha Peters flipped to Texas and Arkansas respectively in the final week before signing day.

"One of the first evaluations that Butch Jones made when they got on board obviously was their current roster, but maybe more pressing was evaluating their current commit list," Simmons said.

"I think they took a look at that, and not to say that some of those guys weren't good football players, but I think when you're going from a pro-style offense to a spread offense [and] you're moving from a 3-4 defense, I think there's very specific players that the previous staff liked that this new staff probably didn't really like as much.

"They had guys they were recruiting at Cincinnati they probably wanted to continue to recruit. I think all those things factor into heavy turnover on the commitment list and probably even more so than we've seen in a lot of other places. It makes things a little tricky heading into national signing day because there is so much work that has to be done within that class."

Staff writer David Paschall contributed to this story.

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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