Jones: 'Recruiting is selling'

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It's a commonly used phrase but it holds true in the Southeastern Conference and at a school like Tennessee: "Recruiting is the lifeblood of a program."

Spanking new Tennessee coach Butch Jones made it evident Friday afternoon at Neyland Stadium that he's on board with that and plans to get a steady stream of talent flowing to Rocky Top.

"I've worked for a lot of great head coaches and with every coach I've come in contact with, if you can recruit, you can recruit," Jones said at his first-ever press conference as the leader of Big Orange Country. "It doesn't matter what school you come from or where in the country... recruiting is selling."

First things first. Targeted players in both the Class of 2013 and 2014 need to know what Jones is all about.

"He's got enough enthusiasm to get guys," BearCatInsider.com publisher Dave Berk said of Jones.

Tennessee pledges Colton Goeas, Paul Harris, Joe Sanders, Josh Smith, Cameron Sutton and Dominic Zanca told IT they hadn't heard of Jones prior to Friday. Neither had No. 1 target and FOX Sports NEXT five-star safety Vonn Bell.

Commits Brett Kendrick, Austin Sanders and Corey Vereen had heard of the former Cincinnati head man but knew little else.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin is the top-rated player currently committed to the Vols. His athleticism and skill set to play a variety of positions makes him vital to Jones' first class.

"I talked to (Jones) once, and he is a good person," the four-star said. "I know (Cincinnati) liked me a lot as a player. I wouldn't mind seeing him come to Knoxville!"

The Vols have ground to make up with informing top target Vonn Bell on who Jones is.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Reeves-Maybin is from Clarksville. Trek down I-24 and inch south on I-65 to bump into Williamson County where 2014 athlete Vic Wharton competes for Indpendence High School.

Wharton was recruited by the Bearcats as a slot receiver and said: "Butch Jones is the man! He had Cincinnati my leader and told me that I was his main priority in 2014 to make his offense go!"

From Memphis to the Tri Cities, Jones wants to assign each of his assistants with their own chunk of space in the Volunteer State. He recruited Tennessee when he was an assistant at West Virginia.

"Let me make no mistake that we are going to win first and foremost with the great state of Tennessee," Jones said. "We have tremendous high school coaches in this state. We are the state institution and we will own our state. We are going to be at every high school in the state and our players are going to understand what it is to wear the Power T, they're going to understand what it is to represent their home institution. I take great pride in that."

Heading south, continuing to build on the pipeline out of Georgia is imperative.

"I don't know anything about him really," said Elliot Berry, who is a prime 2014 target that did admit that he'd heard of Jones.

Tennessee's 24th head coach in school history is moving quickly in getting to know his staff of assistants Friday night. Some will get an opportunity to prove themselves as the type of relentless recruiters the SEC calls for.

Cincinnati special teams coordinator/safeties coach Mark Elder has turned heads with his recruiting ability.

"He is one of the best recruiters I've seen," Berk said.

If Jones shares in Berk's sentiments, one would think Elder is a slam dunk to join the Tennessee staff.

Will Bearcat offensive line coach Don Mahoney head south or does incumbent assistant Sam Pittman stick? If Pittman is retained, all three O-line commits — Kendrick, Sanders and Dan Skipper — are likely to suit up for the Vols in 2013. Throw three-star Reeve Koehler from Honolulu, Hawaii, in there too.

The NCAA recruiting calendar's dead period commences Dec. 17 and runs through Jan. 3. That gives Tennessee roughly 10 days to educate Class of 2013 prospects about Jones and the path of the organization.

"Because of the recruiting calendar, we'll have a long week," he said. "I'll make contact with prospective student-athletes and work to solidify a recruiting class, and there will be some challenges involved."

Have a look at Jones' first press conference as Tennessee's coach:

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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