The Volunteer assistants have prior recruiting relationships that they are now using to attract prospective athletes to Rocky Top. For example, safeties coach Willie Martinez's relationship with junior college defensive back Riyahd Jones.
"I knew coach Martinez from him recruiting me at Auburn," Jones told InsideTennessee. "He called me last night because I told my old coach at Carver that I wanted to put my name out there to some different schools. Then, he called me this morning and gave me the offer. Coach Martinez and I have been talking since I took an unofficial visit to Auburn last summer."
Martinez, the former safeties coach at Auburn, may have gotten a little help from current Vol defensive back and Jones' former Carver (Ga.) High School teammate Deion Bonner, who encouraged the former staff to recruit Jones without result.
|Tennessee safeties coach Willie Martinez offered Jones Monday morning after developing a relationship with him at Auburn.|
"My old teammate Deion Bonner plays (at Tennessee) and he tried to get them to recruit me when the other staff was there," Jones said. "He gave my number to (then-cornerbacks) coach (Derrick) Ansley, but he never took advantage of it."
The 6-foot, 186-pound corner was ranked as the No. 109 cornerback in the Class of 2011 by FOX Sports NEXT and spent his first season of college eligibility at Georgia Southern. There, he recorded 12 tackles, had two pass breakups and one fumble recovery.
After his time at Georgia Southern, Jones moved on to Garden City (Kan.) Community College where he just wrapped up Year 2 of college ball. There he racked up 28 tackles, 11 pass breakups, a forced fumble, two blocked field goals, including one that was returned for a 90-yard touchdown.
"I started every game and played every snap at Garden City this season," he said. "I saw everything that a DB needs to see. I would say my biggest strengths are press coverage and my speed. I play with instinct, but I need to work on my zone coverage. Sometimes I want to stay with my man too much."
Jones reports 4.49 40-yard-dash speeds and recently said that Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kansas State and West Virginia before Tennessee entered the picture. The two-star prospect says that playing time will be a major factor in his recruitment going forward.
"Tennessee is going to have a whole new coaching staff so there won't be any favoritism," Jones said. "I want an opportunity to come in and win a spot. With new coaches there won't be any favorites. Plus they are an SEC school with 100,000-plus in there all the time. That doesn't hurt.
"Academics and playing time are really important to me too. And one thing a lot of guys don't look at is their position coach. When I get an offer, the first thing I do is look at my position coach's bio page. I want a guy that can make me a better player and improve my technique. I like my coach to be down to earth too."
Monday was Jones' last day at Garden City. Going forward he has the option of enrolling in January and will have three years to play two. He plans to visit Tennessee officially following the dead period, which ends on Jan. 3.
Stay tuned for more Tennessee football recruiting updates from InsideTennessee.com