There’s no denying that Butch Jones can recruit and he’s known for getting some of the top high school talent in the country. Next season Butch will enter his 5th season as Tennessee’s head coach, and some would say this is a make or break season for Jones. He’s recruited at a top level, but has he developed his players at a top level? Let’s take a look.
2013 Class Rank: #21
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, 4 Star: He recorded a total of 240 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 1 INT, and 2 forced fumbles in his four year career at Tennessee. He was a tackling machine during his sophomore and junior year, but was plagued with injuries during his senior season. His draft stock is in question, but if healthy, he could be a very good addition to an NFL team.
Marquez North, 4 Star: Tennessee fans will never forget his one-handed catch against South Carolina or his diving TD catch against Georgia. He showed signs of greatness during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he could never move past injuries. After his junior season he declared for the NFL Draft where he was picked up by the Rams as a free agent. He was cut after failing to make the 53-man roster.
Josh Dobbs, 3 Star: There’s no denying that Joshua Dobbs will go down as one of the greatest play makers in Tennessee history. He finished his career with 7,138 yards passing, 2,160 yards rushing, and 87 touchdowns. His reliability and ability to stay healthy is why this is Butch’s greatest get of the 2013 class.
Cameron Sutton, 3 Star: He was the face of Tennessee’s secondary all four years of his career. Sutton made an immediate impact during his freshman campaign and quickly became the play maker that no one predicted. He totaled 127 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 7 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and contributed on special teams with 3 punt returns for touchdowns to end his collegiate career.
Diamond in the Rough: Corey Vereen—3 Star
The forgotten: Paul Harris– 4 Star, Jason Carr–4 Star, Jabo Lee—3 Star, Riyad Jones–3 Star, Lemond Johnson–3 Star, Woody Quinn—2 Star, Malik Brown—3 Star
2014 Class Rank: #5
Josh Malone, 5 Star: It wasn’t the stellar career that fans expected, but it wasn’t bad either. As Josh Malone enters the NFL Draft his stats aren’t eye popping, but when a play was needed, he was there to make it happen. He concluded his career at Tennessee with 1,608 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns (11 of which came during his final season). He has a lot to work on, but he will get his shot at an NFL roster in 2017.
Jalen Hurd, 5 Star: N/A
Von Pearson, 4 Star: He was one of the top JUCO prospects in the 2014 class. Much like Josh Malone, his numbers weren’t eye popping, but when a play or catch was needed, he was there. When you look back at Pearson’s career at Tennessee, he made plays that impacted the offense in a positive way, but never developed into the player who could take over a game.
Derek Barnett, 4 Star: The man who broke Reggie’s sack record. The Nashville product was a talented high school player, but no one predicted how dominant he would be at the collegiate level. He had 197 total tackles, 33 sacks, 52 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 INT in three seasons as a Volunteer. His talents will be greatly missed, and he’s projected as a first-rounder in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Impact Players: Todd Kelly Jr.—4 Star, Evan Berry—4 Star, Rashaan Gaulden—4 Star, Ethan Wolf—3 Star
Diamond in the Rough: Ethan Wolf
The Forgotten: Michael Sawyers—4 Star, Derrell Scott—4 Star, Dillon Bates—4 Star, Dontavius Blair—4 Star, Vic Wharton—4 Star, Dewayne Hendrix—4 Star, Treyvon Paulk—3 Star, Neiko Creamer—3 Star
2015 Class Rank: #5
Kahlil McKenzie, 5 Star: The man who made the bucket hat famous on Rocky Top came out of high school as one of the top prospects in the country. In two seasons McKenzie has 36 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. His numbers aren’t great, but he has two more season to prove why he was one of the top prospects in the nation.
Drew Richmond, 5 Star: According to Rivals, Richmond was the #2 Offensive Tackle in the country coming out of high school. He red-shirted his freshman year and struggled the majority of the 2016 season with his footwork and positioning. He’s a talented player, but needs the coaching to be a solid offensive tackle in the SEC.
Kyle Phillips, 5 Star: Expect his playing time to increase next season as Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen depart from the program. He’s shown flashes and is very talented, but he also finds himself out of position at times. Next season will say a lot about his progression as a player.
Preston Williams, 5 Star: It didn’t take long for this 5-Star to transfer after his lack of route running and inability to catch the ball cost him time on the field. He never developed into the “freak” everyone thought he would be, and recently transferred to Colorado State.
Alvin Kamara, 5 Star: He’s the most productive recruit out of the 2015 class. Every time he touched the ball the fans held their breath knowing something special was about to happen. As he enters the 2017 NFL Draft, Tennessee fans will always remember him as the man who smiled into the camera after scoring a touchdown.
Impact Players: Jauan Jennings—4 Star, Darrin Kirkland Jr– 4 Star, Shy Tuttle—4 Star, Jack Jones—4 Star, John Kelly—3 Star
Diamond in the Rough: Riley Lovingood
The Forgotten: Andrew Butcher—4 Star, Preston Williams—5 Star, Vincent Perry—3 Star, Jocquez Bruce— 3 Star
2016 Class Rank: #15
2017 Class Rank: #17
It’s too early to judge or determine how the 2016 & 2017 classes will play out, but we can acknowledge the talents of Tyler Byrd, Baylen Buchanan, Marquez Calloway and Jonathon Kongbo, who all made impactful plays last season. What we can determine is Butch Jones can recruit, and we can also determine by the list above that Butch Jones needs to work on developing some of his top talent and forgotten players. Now, the majority of them have years left to prove their talent, but Butch needs to step up his game if he wants to prove to the fans that he can develop top talent.
Editor Notes: Want depth? develop, “The Forgotten”.