Vols Need Some Good Surprises

It's that time of the recruiting year when schools begin to wake those sleepers they've had tucked away, waiting until the scholarship situation sorted itself out to the point that an offer is justified.

That appears to be the case with Monday's commitments from Jonathan Hefney and Bill Grimes, a couple of prospects who drew some interest, if not offers, from other big-time programs.

It's similar to last year when the Vols offered a pair of sleepers in Virginia by the names of Marvin Mitchell and Antwan Stewart. Both made it to campus last fall and made good impressions. Mitchell earned significant playing time at linebacker late in the season, until sidelined by an ankle injury. Stewart was a late arrival after a transcript question was resolved and showed well enough to be considered for playing time before he was redshirted. However neither prospect was offered until Tennessee was turned down by USA Today All Americans Ahmad Brooks, a linebacker, and A.J. Davis, a cornerback.

Tennessee's remaining prime targets come down to Turk McBride, Vince Redd, Matthew Malele, Bret Smith and Richard Cook.

The Vols aren't clear cut favorites for any among this fab five, although they may have the edge with Redd by virtue of their in-state status. Tennessee would probably currently rate underdogs for the other four ranging in degree from long shot to no shot.

Interestingly, there was a time when Tennessee led for Malele, Smith, Cook and McBride, but that appears to have changed with most, if not all, these prospects.

Smith supposedly committed on his visit to UT, but he has never publicly announced anything to that effect. After an all out blitz by the Razorbacks, who are also reportedly his family's school of choice, Smith appears to be an Arkansas lean. You have to wonder if the commitment from Bill Grimes isn't a tip to that reality.

Cook could see a better opportunity to play at Tennessee than Georgia, but that's another home state advantage to overcome for Fulmer and company.

That's one of the things that makes McBride a possibility since the competition — North Carolina State and Miami — is also out of state. McBride could push for a place in the rotation as a true freshman and appears an especially good fit for Tennessee's defensive philosophy.

Some would add Tulsa wide receiver Robert Meachem to this list, but that's remote since Oklahoma appears to be his choice.

It's probably just as important the Vols hold on to Eric Young than pick up someone from this wish list. That would be a victory in itself and it would give Tennessee a chance to finish with a respectable class. If they added Redd and McBride, or one of these others that's all the better. However that's probably too optimistic to expect at this point.

Also Tennessee has to stay frosty for any opportunity to capitalize on some other team's misfortune to run out of scholarships before they run out of prospects to sign.

Finally, it's most important not to make too many reaches because for every reach that turns to gold there are three that are signed and never heard from again.

This is a time that it is perhaps better to not let your grasp exceed your reach.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories