Vols’ new coach signs 21 players

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Knoxville, TN-Here are comments from new Tennessee Vols football coach Butch Jones on his first recruiting class in Knoxville.

“It’s an exciting day in our Tennessee football program as we welcome 21 individuals into our football family. There’s a lot that goes into a recruiting class, and there’s a lot of great people here at UT that have done a great job of helping us assemble our recruiting class. I’d like to start off by thanking our coaches. I thought they did a tremendous job of helping and building relationships during a very short period of time-31 days to be exact, with the permissible recruiting days that we’ve had to assemble this class. Recruiting is a relationship business. With all the challenges and obstacles, they did a great job of assembling a class that I think will represent the University of Tennessee not only on the field but off the field. I’m very proud of these individuals for showing their loyalty and their belief in our football program, but also respecting the values and traditions associated with this program. A lot of things go into it, including our coaches’ wives. The many trips all over the country to be involved in the recruiting weekends, the ice storms, all the things of getting them to Knoxville. Also the people in the university community, starting with Dave Hart to the many professors and administrative staff; the academic support services. They all do a tremendous job here at Tennessee.”

“The other thing is our fans. Our fans do a great job of creating a lot of positive energy and pride relative to the importance and the magnitude that Tennessee football and our football program has to the State of Tennessee and the entire country. Lastly, couldn’t have done it without the Tennessee Air Force-all the great donors who lend us their planes to help us with plane travel. We put extra miles on in these 31 days, and I would be remiss if I didn’t bring them up at this time.”

“The challenge begins now to develop these individuals on a day-to-day basis to make sure they’re better football players, better people, and better students because they’re part of our football program. Everyone wants to win the recruiting battles, but what we forget is these are 17- or 18-year-old individuals who have never taken a snap of college football, so to sit here and say who’s going to start as true freshman, who will play right away will be directly dictated by how they develop. For those of us who have been around, we all know that each individual develops and matures at a different level. Each has a different skill set. The other challenging part of assembling this class and coming in with this staff was identifying the needs of this football program. How many scholarships did we have to give? How many linemen did we need? How many quarterbacks did we need? That process then became finding and identifying the talent.”

“We were extremely selective in this process. This is our third time doing this. I think a lot of times when you’re late, you tend to offer scholarships that you look back and wish you had kept. We were extremely selective in the process. We had a formula for the type of player that we need to attract here in Knoxville. I think we were able to attract high level character players, and that was the foundation. A lot of coaches say, “We’re going to live it every day in our football program. It stems with a passion for a college degree and a family background. And then, do they fit in? Do they fit the criteria we’re looking for? We’re very fortunate and blessed to have five individuals who have joined our program immediately. They’ve graduated high school and they’re in our strength and conditioning program now. I’m going to test them in their speaking skills and introduce themselves. (Corey Vereen, Winter Garden, FL; Riyadh Jones, Columbus, GA; Paul Harris, Acokeek, MD; Lemond Johnson, Cooper City, FL) We have the fifth addition who’s being a student-athlete right now and attending class.”