Big wins impress prospects

The fact Tennessee hammered Mississippi State 59-21 and Vanderbilt 48-0 the past two weekends should impress the people who hold the Vols' bowl destiny in their hands, voters in the national football polls. More importantly, those big wins should impress the people who hold the Vols' football future in their hands, the prospects who are considering UT.

So, the Big Orange is competing on two fronts these days -- to improve its stock with the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) and to improve its stock with the BCR (blue-chip recruits).

Speaking on his Sunday teleconference, Vol head man Phillip Fulmer conceded that imposing victories can be a big boost in the recruiting wars.

''I think any time you're playing well and moving up in the polls, it helps,'' he said. ''You're trying to become a hot team. The guys (prospects) who were here yesterday were impressed -- beautiful day, great crowd, great win.

''When you watch (the highlights) on SportsCenter -- I didn't -- but I heard that Mark Jones was on there two or three times, along with some of Casey's throws. The guys (prospects) are watching, and they're anxious to talk to you, whether you call them or not. So, a positive game really helps.''

Asked if Saturday's regular-season finale at Kentucky could provide another boost to this year's recruiting roundup, Fulmer replied: ''If you play well and win. That's the key.''

If Tennessee could somehow land a berth in the SEC Championship Game and a bid to a BCS bowl, that would provide even more impetus for a big recruiting year. That's a longshot, however, and a scenario that Fulmer resolutely refuses to discuss.

''The only thing I want my team thinking about is what we can do something about,'' he said. ''If you start playing the what-if game, it becomes a distraction. We're going to worry about Kentucky, and the rest will fall where it will.''


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