With recruiting heating up much earlier this year, we at CBC decided to address some recent commitments that have been getting some attention, but not in a good way. The Vols currently have 15 commitments, and 3 of those were previously unranked in terms of star value by the major recruiting websites. To be fair, there are over 1 million kids currently playing high school football and this number grows every year, making the job of evaluating every recruit very difficult. Nevertheless, many Vol fans were upset by the acceptance of such “unworthy” players. Many questioned our coaches ability to recruit top tier talent and wanted us to be in play for the best players in the nation. Let me put this bluntly… That is not where we are as a program right now. If you are a 17-year-old kid with offers across the nation to play, Tennessee is not even on your radar. The staff, however, has managed to do a FANTASTIC job in light of the recent years of mediocrity and could easily have us back in good favor with big name recruits if they see production on the field. In the mean time, I imagine coaches are watching more film and evaluating more kids in order to fill the needs until UT is back in the national spotlight. Thus, we have 3 kids who nobody has ever heard of, unless you’re from their hometown. In an attempt to become more familiar with them, and to ease some people’s doubting, we will take a look at each of these kids individually, and assign them their rightful amount of stars.
Brett Kendrick – OL
Knoxville Christian Academy – Knoxville, TN
40 – 5.66
Strengths – Size, Footwork, Pass Blocking, Attitude
Weaknesses – Competition Level, Run Blocking
This is a bigggggg boy. That size as junior in high school is a talent in itself, and he likely can get much bigger in a college S&C program. In comparison, he is the same size as our 4-star OLine recruit Austin Sanders. After watching film on this kid, he is a man among boys, but he does play in the weaker Class AA so you have to take that with a grain of salt. You can’t just muscle around DLineman in the SEC, so Kendrick is going to have to work on his strength and push at the next level. He has good footwork, and this was one of the things that impressed Coach Chaney and Coach Pittman when he was at camp. My favorite thing about this kid is he is a VFL. He wanted nothing more to earn an offer from Tennessee and he went out and got one. After committing he said he knew he had to leave it all out there to get where he wanted and he impressed the coaches enough to leave camp with his collegiate career destination decided. This level of dedication and work is something that is missing from the current generation of kids. You don’t see this from the attention hungry 5-stars that are just looking for 10 minutes of fame. I fully believe that this kid will not only be solid contributor in the future, but his commitment to the team will benefit everyone around him.
Ranking - ★★★★
Josh Smith – WR
Knoxville Christian Academy – Knoxville, TN
40 – 4.51
Strengths – Hands, Speed, Leaping Ability, Yards After Catch
Weaknesses – Size, Competition Level
2011 Highlights - http://joshwsmith.com/?page_id=150
This was the pick-up I was the most skeptical of after hearing about the commitment. A local receiver who was unranked… Not Good. I have read some about this kid and watched his film, and I would have to say that it’s not a bad addition. He has great hands and apparently didn’t drop a pass in camp, which is hard for a nervous young kid to do. He has good speed and has a great vertical leap. Many times the QB (Charlie High) just lofts the ball as deep as he can and lets him go get it, and he succeeds an impressive amount of the time. I would project him as more of a slot receiver in college with his current height and speed. The average height of a receiver is about 6’1’’, so his height is not a major concern. Hopefully he still has some room to grow and maintain a frame to pack on muscle. He already has decent cuts and can make people miss in open space while shrugging off tackles. I would say this is a serviceable kid who may not be a star, but will put up solid numbers in the future. With some fine-tuning from Hinshaw, I imagine he could be great for picking up short yardage in 3rd down situations. Possibly a Titus Young from Boise State type of receiver who can get separation over the middle but also stretch the field vertically with his burst off the line. Again, the best part about this kid is his love of the Big Orange. When kids grow up dreaming about running through that Power T in front of 100,000 strong, it means so much more to them and we need players to have that investment in our team. I think this is an under the radar kid that may surprise some people long term.
Rating - ★★★
Colton Goeas – LB
Saint Louis High School – Oahu, Hawaii
40 – 4.6 (Unofficial), 4.86(ESPN)
Bench – 20 x 225 (Unofficial)
Strengths – Speed, Size, NFL Bloodlines
Weaknesses – Competition Level, Disengaging Contact
2011 Highlights - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAHN_3PJHK8
I am not sure if this kids numbers are accurate because they are posted on his personal highlight video, but if so, WOW. Just from a numbers standpoint that is incredible for a junior. With a Father who played guard in the NFL for 8 seasons, this kid will probably grow some more and be even more explosive. His film shows an extremely fast, physical LB who can lay a hit anywhere on the field. Only drawback I can determine is he is much better at avoiding contact than engaging and releasing. The SEC is a completely different beast, and he won’t be able to skirt around 300+ pound lineman. From his offer sheet, it looks like anyone who had seen this kids play has offered him. I think our main angle here is to lock up the commitment of his teammate, 4-star guard Reeve Koehler. However, I think the upside on this kid is tremendous. Could be a great LB, or could grow into a strong, fast DLineman. Pedigree runs very true with football, and if this kid progresses well he could be a solid addition to the Vols D for Coach Sunseri. I want to give him 4-stars, but I will temper my expectations somewhat due to his competition level. Look for him to progress rapidly when getting to school and working with high quality athletes.
Rating - ★★★
The bottom line with these recruits is we need to trust our coaches to evaluate talent. They have seen kids develop and know what it takes to make a great player. They would not be recruiting chaff just to have it fall by the wayside along with their careers. This is their lifeblood. So whereas recruiting sites are valuable in many ways, they simply cannot substitute for a coach who has molded boys into men his whole life. Only time will tell with these specific recruits, but I say the future is bright in Tennessee, even without adding up the stars.