Giles Joins Class Bailout

With Tampa running back Jarvis Giles joining Antonio Foster and D.T. Shackleford in the former future Vol camp the erosion of Tennessee's Class of 2009 is well underway, and it will get worse before it gets better. Fortunately that's not as bad as it sounds.

As disconcerting as these, seemingly, daily defections can be, the overall impact is difficult to estimate because there's so much we can never know. We can't know how many of these verbal commitments would have signed with Tennessee had Phillip Fulmer and staff returned intact with extensions and bonuses.

Certainly any of the high potential offensive prospects with NFL aspirations and credentials would have thoroughly weighed their options before leaping aboard the Lusitania. Most of the commitments UT picked up came during the summer when the Vols' version of the west coast offense was still in dry dock, and it sounded, in theory, like it might float.

Sure it had an 80's vibe and no one seemed able or willing to explain it. Never mind Tennessee didn't appear to have the personnel to optimize it's essential objective — exploiting match-ups. Furthermore another southern fried, tried-and-failed edition of the west coast had already crashed and burned on the plains of Auburn. (To this day nothing will grow on that spot.) So it hardly scared anybody in the SEC.

That's another thing about IT (Tennessee's 2008 offense) because IT never really had a name. At times IT was described as west coast that featured the power I, some spread, lots of play action, multiple pro looks. A little old, a little new, a little borrowed a little phew. IT had these things and more, including the gimmicky G-Gun, but no bread-and-butter component to sustain drives and force defensive adjustments. Point being it isn't viable and was a tough sell after it was unveiled.

In point of fact Tennessee didn't have a system to sell to prospects or an offense to excite fans. Without the coaching change, this class would have still looked a lot more like the Class of 2008 than the Class of 2007. Hardly the remedy for an offense in dire need of fire power.

The challenge to finish the recruiting campaign with prospects that can provide immediate help is essential, especially at wide receiver. It's as important as the task of retaining UT's top commitments which includes a pair of five-star prospects that could provide an instant octane boost for the offense.

Once a new coach is named he will have a system that is well established, exciting to watch, fun to play and with a role that fits a prospect's skill set. The right choice for head coach could result in a net gain for this recruiting season if a coach can be named before the end of the year.

It's also important to remember this is still the exhale from months of growing tension and internal pressure that gripped Vol Nation. Fulmer's fate dangled by a thread as his supporters and detractors argued their cases. Now his 16-year tenure is finished and the healing can begin. When a new head coach is named (assuming it's the right coach) interest will be renewed and the divide will be bridged. That's also when Vol fans can start breathing again and the negative fallout from a lost season can be replaced by good news and a new beginning.

Some of the commitments that fall away may come back. Others will decide to remain committed after teetering toward a bailout. Some won't be a good match and will be replaced by prospects that are handpicked for the system in use. Being able to sign several such prospects could shave several months off a rebuilding process, and is a consideration that shouldn't be lightly regarded.

Michigan is enduring a season in transition under Rich Rodriguez who was hired late and had no opportunity to recruit a dual threat quarterback, small, quick receivers or mobile O-linemen needed to execute the sprint option attack he ran so successfully at West Virginia.

So don't distress when you hear another member of UT's Class of 2009 has opted out. The Vols lost two four-star commitments before the coaching change ever took place which underscores a simple truth — if they're committed, they're not signed.

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