Randy Smith: Only One Thing Is Holding Vols Back

Monday, November 11, 2013 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

After watching the University of Tennessee football team suffer through a 2-6 portion of their schedule against one nationally ranked power after another, it’s easy to see where the problem is. The Vols simply don’t have enough talent to compete against the Alabamas, Georgias, Auburns and Missouris on their schedule. Granted Tennessee did upset South Carolina and should have beaten Georgia, but since that thrilling upset of the Gamecocks on Oct. 19, the Big Orange has lost three in a row by a combined score of 131-36.

Seven of their last eight opponents have been ranked, most of them in the top 10. Vol Network analyst Tim Priest pointed out that Tennessee has enough talent to win a game or two, every now and then against good competition, but over a period of time, the superior talent in the SEC will wear them down, and that’s exactly what has happened.

UT Head Coach Butch Jones is trying to do something about this big talent gap. According to recruiting service Rivals.com, Tennessee is ranked second nationally as of today. The Vols have a total of thirty commitments, including one five-star prospect and sixteen four star athletes. The only school in the nation ranked ahead of the Vols right now is, you guessed it, Alabama.

Coach Jones said when he took the job in Knoxville, he was going to start with the best prospects in the Volunteer state, and fan out from there. So far, he’s done just that. Of the Vols 30 commitments, six of them are Tennesseans. They include running back Jalen Hurd from Hendersonville Beech High School, who is listed as the state’s top prospect. Hurd, who is also rated number four among running backs nationally, has a great combination of size and speed. He is a 6’ 3” 230 beast who can be a punishing back. In addition to Hurd, the Vols have also gotten a commitment from safety Rashan Gaulden from Nashville's Independence High School. Gaulden is also rated as one of the best cover guys in the nation, and could step in and help a secondary that appears to be a bit slow.

It’s a long time until National Signing Day in February; that’s when the verbal commitments will become official. As good as Tennessee’s recruiting has been so far for the class of 2014, it could get even better. The only down side though is this important fact: while Tennessee is doing very well, so are many other SEC schools. Of the top 10 teams listed, five are SEC teams. In the top 25, a total of 10 SEC teams are ranked.

Alabama only gets stronger and stronger. Head Coach Nick Saban, who has won three of the last four national recruiting battles, is number one once again. Ironically, Alabama has also won three of the last four BCS Championships, so talent really does translate into titles.

Most Tennessee fans know that our home state is rather weak when it comes to high school football talent. Coach Phillip Fulmer was a master at recruiting on a national level, but he also seemed to get the best prospects inside the Tennessee borders. Derek Dooley and Lane Kiffen failed to do that, but Butch Jones stated from the very beginning, that was the way the UT program would roll under his watch.

So, the tide will turn eventually for the Volunteers. They already have the facilities in place to compete with any other program in the country. Now all we need is talent, and Coach Butch Jones is doing a great job at putting that in place.      

rsmithsports@comcast.net

---

Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).



Smokies Snap Losing Streak Saturday With 6-4 Win Over Lookouts

KODAK, Tenn.  -- Charcer Burks, Andrew Ely and Daniel Spingola each had three hits, as the Tennessee Smokies beat the Chattanooga Lookouts 6-4 on Saturday. Chattanooga's loss and Montgomery's win Saturday gives the Lookouts a six game lead, and the magic number to clinch the second-half title remains at 11 games. Lookouts starter Fernando Romero (11-8) took the loss after ... (click for more)

Baylor Soccer has tie, win in Bearden Tourney

The Baylor girls soccer team earned a tie and a win Saturday at the Bearden soccer tournament.  In the first game on Saturday, Baylor tied Knox Catholic 3-3.   An Avery Davis goal gave Baylor  a 1-0 lead at half. Knox Catholic tied the game early in the second half, followed by two Baylor goals from  Davis  and then Lea Hunter who scored off ... (click for more)

Excitement Builds As Tennessee Valley Prepares For Monday's Eclipse

Sandra Nicholson, director of the Edu-Care Daycare Center on Signal Mountain, is as ready for  Monday’s  historic solar eclipse as she’s ever going to be. It took some doing, she said, but she has finally enough pairs of NASA-certified solar safety glasses for everyone in her family.  She’s just one of the tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley area residents ... (click for more)

Berke, Hinton Moving To Have City Removed As Trustee Of Confederate Cemetery

Mayor Andy Berke on Friday said he has asked City Attorney Wade Hinton, on behalf of the city of Chattanooga, to file the necessary paperwork "to confirm the city is no longer listed as a trustee of a Confederate Cemetery on East Third Street." Mayor Berke said, “Our action today makes it clear that the city of Chattanooga condemns white supremacy in every way, shape and ... (click for more)

Mayor Invites Civil War II - And Response (16)

I just received an email from the Mayor stating that he filed paperwork to remove the city of Chattanooga as the trustee for the Confederate Cemetery on Third Street. I understand the Mayor's intent was to distance the city from it's racist past and subsequent hate, but I feel like this is an interesting move without much thought of the consequences. The Mayor prefaced his ... (click for more)

Berke Plan To Solve Discrimination Is To Kick Dead Veterans To The Curb

Racism and discrimination is wrong. What is the best way for a parent to teach a child the evils of discrimination? Should the parent demonstrate and repetitively incentivize the proper behavior? Or, would it be more productive to badger the child over and over again for the sins of the child's g-g-g-grandfather who died 150 years ago? Would burning the personal effects of the grandfather ... (click for more)