Football 'package deals'

Cynics suggest that Tennessee's interest in Germantown receiver Jerry Anderson is merely bait to lure his cousin, four-star quarterback Jesse Scroggins of Lakewood, Calif.

Whether Vol staffers view Anderson as a prospect or merely as an inducement is something only they know, of course. It will stay that way, too, since coaches never, ever admit signing a lesser player in order to secure a more heralded player.

Still, this much is certain: The so-called "package deal" has been pretty good to UT in the past.

Seven times in recent history Tennessee signed a football player who appeared to be leverage to get a more heralded player. Three of those package deals turned out exceptionally well and another worked out OK.

Here's a recap:

1988: Tennessee signed Toledo lineman Rodney Gordon to help secure the services of star tailback Chuck Webb. Gordon proved to be a decent player, lettering as an offensive tackle in 1990 and '91, then starting in '92. After redshirting in '88, Webb exploded onto the scene in '89, rushing for 1,236 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 10 games. He suffered a career-ending knee injury in Game 2 of 1990 but still finished with 1,392 yards, 15 TDs and a 5.8 yards-per-carry average in just 12 career games.

1988: Tennessee signed Knoxville Halls kicker Jason Julian to help land heralded offensive tackle Randy Hall. Back problems wiped out Hall's college career but Julian wound up being a decent role player. He lettered as a safety/receiver/special teams player in 1988, '89, '90 and '91, starting at free safety in '89.

1997: Tennessee signed Memphis Melrose wide receiver Kevin Taylor to get cornerback Andre Lott (rated the state's No. 1 prospect) and quarterback Cedrick Wilson (rated No. 2). Taylor left after one undistinguished season but Lott and Wilson helped UT win a national title in '98. Lott was a three-year starter in the secondary and Wilson finished with 159 career catches, 2,137 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.

1998: Tennessee signed Nashville Pearl-Cohn defensive tackle Reggie Ridley to get fellow D-tackle John Henderson. Ridley wound up lettering just one year (2001) as a reserve offensive tackle but Henderson proved worth two scholarships, starting for three years and earning All-America honors the last two. He won the Outland Trophy as a junior and was a finalist as a senior.

2001: Tennessee accepted quarterback C.J. Leak as a transfer from Wake Forest in order to lock up his younger brother, heralded high school QB Chris Leak. C.J. made just one start at UT before his career fizzled, and an angry Chris wound up spurning the Vols in favor of Florida.

2003: Tennessee accepted quarterback Rick Clausen as a transfer from LSU in order to help secure the services of his ballyhooed brother, high school superstar Jimmy Clausen. Rick soured on the Vols after splitting time with Erik Ainge in 2005, and Jimmy wound up choosing Notre Dame over the Big Orange.

2004: Tennessee signed Jackson Central-Merry quarterback Bo Hardegree along with teammate Daniel Brooks, a High School All-America linebacker. Alas, Hardegree never advanced above third-team and Brooks never blossomed, ultimately being dismissed from the program after three undistinguished seasons as a backup.


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