UT Scours JC Ranks

One excellent barometer that a team's depth has been negatively impacted by (A) Attrition, (B) Bad Evaluations (C) Prospect Misses or (D) All the Above — is the number of Junior College players it pursues over the course of a single recruiting season.

When you seek out a significant number of combat ready prospects with only two years of eligibility remaining and a history of issues, it indicates the program hasn't produced in-house answers to position problems.

If the Junior College prospects can make a successful transition to the Division I game the payoff is immediate help in the fall. The drawback comes down the road when scholarships are limited for high school prospects. The end result can be a lack of continuity and flexibility because you have fewer players in the system for four and five years at a stretch.

Eventually you have to take a hit in the experience department or continue to replenish veteran players with those largely developed by other programs. Used in moderation the JC recruiting approach can provide short-term solutions, but its hard to sustain over the long haul.

In recent years the Vols have had success with such Junior College standouts as Julian Battle, Gibril Wilson and Jesse Mahelona, but there have also been junior acquisitions like Mondre Dickerson, Brandon Johnson and Albert Toeaina that were dismissed from the team.

In short: Reliance on Junior College talent is a strategy ripe with risks and rewards. If you sign them they may become stars, or they may not come at all, as was the case with California tight end Leon Pinky, who signed with the Vols but never made it to campus.

Perhaps it's an especially good year for JC talent, or maybe Tennessee is looking for some quick upgrades at several positions. Whatever the reason the Vols appear to be working the Junior College circuit more now than ever.

For example: UT has offered four prospects from a single school and have made as many as six known offers to college sophomores. What follows is a list of the four JC prospects from Pearl River CC.

Brian Coulter (So., DE, 6-5, 235) - One of four players from Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss., UT is pursuing. He played at Baker High School in Los Angeles and claims 21 offers. His favorites are Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, South Carolina, USC and Arkansas. Projects as a spring grad.

Demetrius Byrd (So., WR, 6-2, 195). Another Pearl River product who played for Miami Central High School in Miami, Fla. Claims offers from Arkansas, Iowa State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee. He is also being recruited by Auburn and Alabama. Projects as a spring graduate.

Larry Freeman (So., WR/QB, 6-3, 195) - Played his prep ball at Fort Meade (FL) HS. Has three at the top of his list - South Carolina, Tennessee and Iowa State. Claims offers from most of the SEC and ACC schools as well as Central Florida and South Florida. Projects as a December grad.

Gene Anderson (So., DB, 6-2, 200) - Could play outside linebacker or safety. A graduate from East Marion High School in Columbia, MS. He likes Tennessee, Florida and Florida State, all of whom have offered. Also has offers from in-state schools Mississippi State. He aims to graduate in December.

The Vols are also believed to have extended offers to D-lineman Rolando Barragan (6-3, 270) of El Camino CC in Torrance, Calif., as well as, big offensive line prospect Rodney Brisbon (6-6, 330) of Northwest Mississippi JC in Senatobia, Miss.


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