KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- From Ole Miss' huge day to the continued recruiting rise of Texas A&M and UCLA, 2013 gave us plenty to talk about on signing day. Here are my biggest takeaways from the day, starting with a look at Tennessee's first class under its new coach.
1. Volunteers close strong, get help at QB
Butch Jones is no stranger to the concept of transition. In particular, the Tennessee Volunteers' head coach (the school's fourth since 2008) understands what it's like to take a job and then have a finite period to, by various means, pull together a recruiting class.
He did it at Central Michigan. He did it at Cincinnati. In those cases, though, he was following Brian Kelly, who had left for bigger jobs. In this case, he follows a Hall of Famer who was fired, a coach who bolted after one season and another who was fired following three middling years.
Once a model for stability in the sport, Tennessee was shaken like a snow globe and the pieces are still suspended around Jones. Signing day represented the image of those flying flakes beginning to settle. "We've had our storms, but the sun is starting to shine through the clouds again," Jones said Wednesday, the sun literally shining on Neyland Stadium outside his office windows.
The immediate challenge: The newest new UT coach and his staff had 31 permissible days of recruiting from Dec. 7, when he was introduced, until signing day. That meant maintaining existing relationships and commitments. It meant quickly building new bridges and prioritizing a revamped target list.
The end result: The Volunteers announced Wednesday the signing of 21 prospects, including 12 who made decisions after Jones was hired.
Eight of the dozen were committed to other schools.
"We were playing catch-up," Jones said. "I don't like doing it that way, but they showed an interest in us and we just presented the facts."
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