How many jucos should UT sign?

With Tennessee needing immediate help at wide receiver and defensive line, Vol recruiters supposedly are looking long and hard at junior college players. The question is: Will the Big Orange hit the juco ranks harder than normal this year?

''I hope not,'' respected recruiting analyst (and Rocky Top News alumnus) Bill King told The Knoxville Quarterback Club earlier today. ''You don't make a living signing a bunch of junior college kids. Ask (Mississippi State coach) Jackie Sherrill.

''If you sign more than a couple, you pay the piper down the road. I'm always in favor, no matter who you have, of signing one junior college defensive lineman. Those are next to impossible to find. A high school defensive lineman is never ready to help you, and the juco is a couple of years older.''

The afore-mentioned Sherrill upgraded his program with junior college talent in the late 1990s but saw it lapse into mediocrity the past two years. King thinks that's always a risk when a program relies on juco players who will be gone in two years.

''For the most part, a school like Tennessee doesn't need to sign more than three or four,'' he said. ''They need a lock-down corner because, depth-wise and personnel-wise, they're a little down there in my opinion. And a couple of defensive linemen -- maybe a true defensive tackle and a true defensive end.''

Although UT's wideouts were a huge disappointment this fall, King is against seeking an instant fix from the juco ranks.

''In spite of the wide receiver play this year, I'm not in favor of signing a juco wide receiver,'' he said. ''I think you get burned more often there than you get dividends down the road.''

Although juco transfer Julian Battle has done an outstanding job for Tennessee's secondary this year, King cautions that Vol fans need to remember one thing:

''He's been a really good player here of late, but he wasn't the player last year that he is now,'' King said. ''It always takes awhile to get these guys to develop.''


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