InsideTennessee's Recruiting Mailbag

It's time for another InsideTennessee Recruiting Mailbag. Go "Inside" to get the answers to your University of Tennessee Recruiting questions.

Please expand on the injuries for Jacques Smith, Marques Pair, Herman Lathers, John Propst, and Austin Johnson. What's the prognosis on these players in terms of summer workouts, fall practice, and next season?

James' Answer: Jacques has a broken or fracture bone in his foot. Don't worry he will continue lifting weights, he will begin running in June, I don't see him affected by it too much especially by August. Pair was running and doing a lot of rehab this spring, looked good, Herman Lathers also seen working out and rehabbing.

Hampton's Answer: Jacques has a broken foot, Pair had surgery to repair a torn ACL, Lathers had surgery to repair his shoulder and Probst and Johnson just suffered minor injuries. Jacques is the one that is set back the most right now. He won't be able to start running again until June. I'd say Jacques, Pair, and maybe Lathers will be limited some this summer, but they will all be fine for the season.

Realistically, who are some of our top targets at LB? What do you guys think of Nick Lawson? Is/Has TJ Holliman visited or are there updates on his interest? Who have we offered at lb?

James' Answer: Look for some new names to emerge after spring evaluations. The Tennessee coaching staff will hit the junior colleges hard and linebacker will be one position along with defensive tackles they Will Hunt.

Hampton's Answer: It's really to early to tell what they are doing at LB. We appear to like our young guys and may be pretty selective there. Some guys I think UT is going to pursue hard are Noor Davis, Kwon Alexander, Nick Dawson, Kaiwan Lewis, and Erik Striker. They are all big time guys and will be tough pulls, but those are some guys we want at this point.

Is there interest from Jovon Robinson? Is he a take or more of a wait and see?

James' Answer: He is one of the top guys in the state, I would expect him to get an offer after they see him in person this spring. He is the real deal.

Hampton's Answer: There is some interest from UT, but he is a wait and see guy. He should come up to camp and try to earn an offer.

Any news on Humphrey's? Any updates on Ben Stills, Graham Shuler or Andrew Jelks?

James' Answer: I still say Humphries will end up a Vol. I have a reason for saying this, but can't state it at this time. I think Still probably will end up elsewhere, UT need at the position isn't a priority. Jelks will be a Vol.

Hampton's Answer: Humphries still has Florida leading UT and South Carolina trailing. I think Still is leaning pretty heavily to Ole Miss right now. I'm not sure about Shuler. He did visit UT during spring practice. Now that Jelks has a UT offer, he will be a Vol. It's only a matter of time.

I haven't heard much on Nate Cole. Is there interest there?

James' Answer: I have been told that Cole does have an offer from Tennessee. He is another one that is the real deal. I got to see him at the National 7-7 Tournament last spring. If the Vols aren't careful he will end up at Alabama.

Hampton's Answer: I would put him in that same category as Jovon Robinson. He is a wait and see guy. I think we are really, really high for some WRs higher on our board like Drae Bowles, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Corey Smith.

Is it unusual what I'm seeing in recruits. Have there always been open package deals? I know before we have taken this one to get that one but it wasn't "out there" that it was a deal breaker. What is Tennessee's views of O'Brian's buddy? He has said he wants for them to play together. I believe others have offered both. Have we?

James' Answer: It happens sometimes, not sure about O'Brien though. I think he likes UT regardless of his buddy.

Hampton's Answer: There always guys who talk about being package deals every year, but it doesn't happen to often. I haven't heard of O'Brien's buddy.

How many in-state guys do you think we will take in the upcoming class? Can you name some of them?

James' Answer: Five to six before it is all said and done.

Hampton's Answer: Right now, I don't see us taking more than 5 or 6, if that many. There are only 4 players in TN who have firm UT offers, and I think we will get 3 of them: Brian Kimbrow, Drae Bowles, and Andrew Jelks. It seems I'tavius Mathers is wanting to leave the state right now. I can't be sure if anybody else in TN will get an offer.

Seeing 90K fans in Tuscaloosa yesterday leads me to believe that Saban is not only utilizing the spring game as way to gain more exposure, but also as a recruiting ploy. How does Coach Dooley view spring games in terms of recruiting? Is the Orange and White game a recruiting tool? Is there absolutely nothing else to do in Alabama on a spring Saturday?

James' Answer: Hate to say it but Alabama fans makes Alabama football more important to them year round. They did it when they went out and hired Saban, spending the necessary money it took to get a coach of his caliber. They also are responding to the winning they have done recently. The crowd for the Vols Spring game would have to be disappointing if you were to compare the two.

Hampton's Answer: Alabama has been putting 90k in that stadium every spring for a while now. Alabama football fans are like Kentucky basketball fans. They literally live for nothing else. Dooley sees it as just another time to get a recruit on campus and start/further a relationship with them. He doesn't see it as some huge event that is supposed to blow the recruits away. As we saw last year, the official visits in January are really what he puts the most emphasis on.

Now that spring football has ended, which prospects are considered top priority during spring evaluations? Is there anyone that the coaches will get a closer look at before an offer is extended?

James' Answer: Look for this coaching staff to hit the roads hard this spring. They need linebackers and they need defensive linemen, also a few tight ends and running backs. They will search the world including every junior college in search of the right fit for this team and coaching staff.

Hampton's Answer: I think you will see them put a big emphasis on TN and GA like they did last year. The evals last spring (and camp) were critical for guys like Justin Coleman, Mack Crowder, and Brendan Downs getting their offers. I would look for them to really take hard looks at guys like Jovon Robinson, Nate Cole, Nat Parham, and Caleb Azubike.

Does anyone have an accurate count on how many schollys we can take for '12? The numbers I have heard all exceed the number of Seniors who will be out of eligability. What's the real formula if all qualify?

James' Answer: I'm being told somewhere between 17-20.

Hampton's Answer: Nobody will be able to give you an accurate number for a while. There are 13 or 14 seniors on the team so that is the number we can take as of now. That being said, there is going to be some attrition between now and August 2012. There also will be a little oversigning (like we did this year) to compensate for signees who are academic risks. I expect us to sign somewhere in the 20-22 range.

Apparently, Zeke Pike is committing within the next week or so. What are UT's chances with him?

James' Answer: Vols probably will place second or third in this race.

Hampton's Answer: Not very good. It looks like he is Auburn bound.

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