Some Vol fans need to stay off Twitter

By
Updated: December 20, 2013

DaVonte Lambert

Now that Tennessee’s small percentage of way-too-rabid fans have had a chance to sleep off the Davonte Lambert hangover, it’s time to assess where the Vols are in recruiting and how to act when things don’t go as planned.

First, any fan that tweeted hateful messages to DaVonte Lambert should shut down their Twitter account for the good of mankind. It doesn’t matter if Lambert said he was VFL a million times. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t keep good on his commitment to UT, instead signing with Auburn.

A small percentage of fans, that every SEC school has, has made UT football look bad. Real bad. How many other prospects saw the reaction? How did that affect those prospects’ perception of the Vols? Couldn’t have been good.

Sure, what Lambert did was morally wrong. He should have kept his word. UT’s coaches were depending on him. However, what he did wasn’t illegal. And it’s done everyday.

The difference is the Lambert situation was a bit more public. Coaches run off commitments and commitments change their mind every day. Ever heard of a “silent commitment”? Think those always pan out? Newsflash, they don’t.

The fact that some fans were more upset than UT’s coaches is a bit disturbing. The Vols moved on immediately. UT way-too-rabid fans should have done the same. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s pragmatic.

Being congenial on social media represents UT in a positive light. That helps with other prospects. It also could have helped with Lambert.

There is a good chance Lambert will not be eligible to enroll in January at Auburn or anywhere else because of some academic shortcomings. That means his scholarship papers signed on Wednesday would be null and void. That means he could re-sign with any other school in February.

Think Lambert would re-consider UT after the tweet grenades lobbed at him from Knoxville? Nope.

The hypocrisy surrounding the Lambert fiasco is astounding. Did any UT fan question quarterback Joshua Dobbs’ integrity when he signed with UT even though he was committed to Arizona State? Would any UT fan question Bo Scarbrough’s integrity if he signs with UT despite being committed to Alabama? No and no.

Fans might throw a parade if UT can flip Scarbrough, a five-star running back from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. There would be good reason to. The Vols need a top-flight tailback. Sure, UT has two committed for the 2014 class. Yet it’s hard to have too much of a good thing. Also, getting Scarbrough would be a win against Alabama.

However, the ultimate sign of idiocy in attacking Lambert is how easy some fans forget just how great UT’s staff is at recruiting. The Vols have the second-best class in the nation with 33 commitments despite coming off four losing seasons.

The Vols have had 21 wins on the field since 2010. Yet UT has 17 four-star commitments or better in its current class. Think about that. Still missing Lambert?

Moreover, with every prospect, there’s a chance Lambert will be a bust. Historically, there’s about a 50-percent chance high school prospects won’t be key contributors in college. With junior college prospects, the success rate is even lower.

Now, for those Tennessee fans that don’t attack young men via social media, don’t take offense. For those roughly five-percent that find that a productive way to spend your time, rethink that stance. Simply put, it hurts the very program you believe you’re supporting.

It’s only a matter of time until a fan gets out of control and sends a death threat or attacks a prospect physically (not that it would go well). It’s going to happen. The stigma that would be attached to something that dastardly would tarnish a program. Don’t be that fan base.

It’s been a rough time to be a UT fan. Victories have come more regularly in recruiting than on the field. That has raised passion in following recruiting. Every commitment is celebrated. Every lost prospect is lamented.

However, imagine just how close UT is to being relevant again. Take back a fluke fumble against Georgia and a questionable call against Vanderbilt and the Vols are in 7-5 and in a bowl game.

No one has found a former player that has met UT head coach Butch Jones that doesn’t wholeheartedly support him. Despite another losing season, the feel of the program is clearly different.

Has anyone seen players quit on Jones? Has anyone seen Jones sitting on a stool on the sideline?

So to those that want to attack prospects on social media, it’s time to take a seat.

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