Tennessee coaches like Butch Jones and recruiting coordinator Robert Gillespie must provide a bevy of knowledge to players they're fighting to get in an orange uniform.
From a prospective student-athlete's role on one side of the football to academic support to explaining life in Knoxville, they must be a library of information.
Trey Coleman of West Monroe (La.) High School has known since the summer that he wanted to be a Volunteer. This month he took an official visit to Rocky Top to sure things up.
“It was great just having a chance to talk to Butch and talk to G,” Coleman said. “I asked some questions and wanted to get a lot of stuff off my chest. It was just good to visit with some future teammates of mine and offers that could potentially come and to meet Ty Chandler for the first time. We had a good conversation and got to meet each other a lot. We’re all in this together. We just have a family united I guess you could say.”
Recruits always want to feel confident in their decision before the pen meets the paper on National Signing Day. The runner had his questions answered.
“It was mainly personal and what was best for me and questions about the offense and stuff like that,” Coleman said.
Since Coleman first committed, the Tennessee staff has changed with Larry Scott being elevated from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator, replacing Mike DeBord, who returned to his roots in Indiana.
“They were talking about offense, talking about family issues, whenever we were talking about personal life,” Coleman said.
Coleman spent time on Rocky Top in the fall, returning as a commit in support of future teammates. He visited for the Florida and Kentucky games, which were both wins for the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium.
The 6-foot, 213-pounder spent time on the official visit this month with “teammates, getting to know them, going out with John Kelly and Tyler Byrd. Just going out, just having fun really without a doubt. I’d already experienced it all, so it wasn’t nothing new to me. I was just having a good time and just a good experience.”
The trip locked up the Scout three-star prospect’s plans to play his college football in Knoxville.
“Other schools been trying to tell me this and that and trying to persuade me to go which way and the other, but I’m really focused on Tennessee right now,” Coleman said.
If there’s a word that comes to Coleman’s mind when discussing Tennessee’s coaching staff it’s “loyalty.”
“I’ve been committed for a couple months and the loyalty never changed,” said Coleman, who pledged during an Orange Carpet Day event on June 18. “They always stayed honest and true. They never false communicated with me. They still communicate with me the same way when I wasn’t offered. It’s just a love thing and they love me and they need me and I’m going to try to contribute as a freshman.”
No Jalen Hurd. No Alvin Kamara. No Jeremy Lewis. Backs that were scheduled to return to Tennessee’s roster in 2017 are all gone. Gillespie made it a point to recoup the depth by getting three runners pledged.
“I was comfortable because coach G always told me,” Coleman said. “It’s the SEC — anybody can get hurt, anybody can go down. If there’s three backs and one gets hurt, that just leaves you with two. Say that, then get hurt. You’ve got to have depth. Running backs get hurt easy.
“I appreciate (Gillespie) by telling me that so I won’t be up in the blind about it and just being honest in general. They’re just honest about everything. I can ask them a question about anything. We have open conversations. I appreciate the fact that I can come to them like a father or anybody who would want to talk to me. I appreciate that a lot — the honesty of them.”
Look for the 6-foot, 213-pounder to send over his signed National Letter of Intent to Tennessee on Wednesday morning.
Sarah Johnson contributed to this report.