Apr 20, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones during the first half of the spring Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Football Recruiting: Can the Vols Build a #1 Recruiting Class by Signing Day 2014?

The staff of FanSided150 gives their opinions about whether or not the Tennessee Volunteers can be a #1 recruiting class by Signing Day 2014. Currently, the Vols have the 3rd best recruiting class (1st before the Kyle Allen commitment) and have themselves fifteen commitments.

Jan 4, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers football head coach Butch Jones watches during the first half of a basketball game against the Memphis Tigers at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

FanSided150 also welcomes Zach Regan from AllforTennessee.com to give his thoughts on the Vols and their 2014 Recruiting class thus far.

Joe: They may have the best recruiting class in 2014 right now, but it is an awful long way to Signing Day. And by that, I mean that the Vols have already filled up 15 slots, and it will be interesting to see how many slots they save up for the elite guys who decide later on. Often times, teams who start strong don’t finish strong since they have all of their spots filled up. Tennessee looks in a great position to have the top recruiting class, but ultimately I think they end up just outside of the top five. That’s still amazing, though, for Butch Jones, and the real key isn’t in the rankings; it’s the fact that Jones is getting his guys early.

And it’s not like he hasn’t gotten elite players either, because Jalen Hurd was an enormous pick-up, and you also have to laud guys like D’Andre Payne and the recent commitment of Joe Henderson. Tennessee is getting players who are being recruited by programs who have had better recent success, and that’s absolutely phenomenal. Right now, they have the best class in 2014 just ahead of Michigan and Texas.

Zach: At this point the question isn’t “Can Tennesee build a number one recruiting class by Signing Day 2014?”, it’s “Can Tennessee keep their top recruiting class in tact leading up to Signing Day 2014?” Butch Jones and his staff had very little time on the job to build their 2013 class, but they still managed to land a top 25 class. Now that Jones and the coaching staff have had time to settle in and hit the recruiting trail, they’ve managed to start building their class. The Vols have built their 2014 class by focusing on in-state talent, something the previous coaching staff ignored at times. The Vols have already landed a couple of top in-state prospects such as running back Jalen Hurd and defensive back Todd Kelly JR. The Volunteers also proved they can recruit outside of the Tennessee area, when they received a verbal commitment from four-star defensive back D’Andre Payne out of Friendship Academy in Washington D.C. Payne had no previous connections to the Vols, or their staff.

Securing commitments from top in-state talent is a must for the Vols, but they’ll have to continue to prove they can go outside of the tri-state area and reach out to some of the top prospects in the nation, otherwise other SEC schools such as Florida and Alabama will soar past the Vols in the recruiting rankings.

Ricky: Right now, the Tennessee Volunteers have one of the top five recruiting classes in the Class of 2014 and could be the best class on National Signing Day. All I can think of is the Ole Miss Rebels in 2013. No one thought that Ole Miss was going to be the best recruiting class in 2013, but they ended up being the top class.

Am I saying Tennessee is the Ole Miss of 2014? No, because they are currently not huge players in any of the top ten recruits from the 2014 class. However, they should be a top five class though and will be six at the worst.

Tim: The job that Butch Jones has done at Tennessee has been remarkable. I’m always fascinated to see a new coach step into a job and hit the ground running and that’s exactly what Jones has done.It doesn’t hurt when you lock down the top two players in the state in Jalen Hurd and Todd Kelly, both of whom are top five nationally at their respective positions. But in-state recruiting only goes so far. Butch Jones has been able to reach out to Ohio, Texas, Illinois and Florida and that is exactly how you go about building a top recruiting class. Right now, Michigan seems like a juggernaut on the recruiting trail and they’ll be hard to pass but Tennessee is in good shape with a few guys who could tip the scales. While he may not end up with the #1 class, nationally, if Butch Jones can put together a top three class that leads the SEC, he will have built a terrific foundation for the future.

The FanSided150 staff includes lead editor Ricky Widmer along with analyst Joe Soriano and editorial director Tim Tolley. FanSided150 would like to also thank Zach Regan for giving his thoughts on Tennessee recruiting.

Also, check out the Fansided 150 Class of 2014 Rankings.

Follow Ricky on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

Follow Joe on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

Follow Tim on Twitter @TimTolleyFS.

Tags: 2014 Football Class Football Recruiting Tennessee Volunteers

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