Regularly Beating the Tide?
Imagine Tennessee beating Alabama on a regular basis. It could actually happen.
To be clear, I’m not talking about beating the Crimson Tide on the field this fall. More than likely, that’s a bit further down the road than the 2013 season. Remember, Tennessee is a team coming off of three consecutive losing seasons. Alabama is coming off three national titles in four years.
However, there is indeed an area where Tennessee can be a worth adversary immediately. The Vols have already proven as much.
Prospects don’t think like they used to. Once, winning championships was the first thing a prospect would regularly offer up when asked what he’s looking for in a college. Now, immediate playing time tops the list more times than not. The ability to produce players ready for the NFL is often times a close second.
Tennessee can offer both. The Vols can offer playing time aplenty, especially if you’re a defensive lineman, offensive lineman or linebacker. While other positions have a more clear future, there are no star Vols that should scare away any prospect at defensive back or tailback.
UT’s defensive backs are young but none have established themselves as bona fide SEC players. There are a handful of young defensive backs committed but they haven’t proven themselves either.
The Vols have highly touted tailback Jalen Hurd from Hendersonville (Tenn.) Beech coming in next season but every SEC team utilizes more than one tailback nowadays. Even if Hurd is the standout college player that UT fans are hoping for, there will be more carries than he can handle. Yet another chance to come in and play immediately.
In fact, UT’s depth chart could only scare off two positions: quarterback and receiver. UT has two freshmen quarterbacks that have drawn early rave reviews. The Vols signed a strong class of receivers in February and are on track to do the same for the 2014 class.
That’s why Tennessee has indeed bested the mighty Crimson Tide in recruiting twice this year and could be poised to do so again. Hurd looked destined to leave the state, quite possibly to Alabama, before the Vols gained strong momentum this spring while racking up prospects at an astonishing pace for a struggling program. Hurd followed suit.
Most thought safety Todd Kelly Jr. from Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb would end up clad in crimson. He has taken frequent visits to Tuscaloosa, in part, because his sister is a cheerleader for Alabama. The Kelly family was not fond of the last coaching staff. Enter head coach Butch Jones and the landscape changed. Kelly committed.
As impressive as securing Kelly and Hurd have been, another possible commitment would be even more startling. Imagine for a moment what kind of statement the Vols would make if UT could steal a prospect from Bama that it has done a perfect job in recruiting. Charles Mosley could be that prospect.
After visiting UT last weekend, Mosley told Tennessee Sports Radio that the Vols are now the No. 1 team for his services. That comes after Alabama quietly evaluated him, recruited him and offered him a scholarship well before any other school.
Bama couldn’t have handled Mosley’s recruitment any better. That’s why he said Alabama led for the duration of his recruitment until last weekend.
Cynics and/or Alabama fans can retort the above by simply saying that the Vols are only securing their own state, that Tennessee should have the inside track on the Mosleys, Hurds and Kellys of the world because they are Tennessee natives.
While that’s true, supposed in-state allegiances haven’t always helped the Vols. Bama has poached the state in recent rears. Dontae Hightower and the Jones brothers – Barrett, Harrison and Walker – are easy examples to cite. Tennessee wanted them. So did Bama. The Crimson Tide signed all.
The battles don’t stop at the Tennessee-Alabama border. Bama head coach Nick Saban feels confident recruiting in Tennessee. The Vols should celebrate every victory over Alabama – even in recruiting.