JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Maybe this wasn’t Babe Ruth stepping up to the plate and pointing to the fence before hitting a home run, but Butch Jones had his own version of calling his shot after Tennessee’s 45-28 win over Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Friday.
“Now we have to go assemble a top three, top four recruiting class – which we will (emphasis mine), because we’re building and we have something special and great people,” said Jones.
Less than 24 hours later, Jones’ statement already got some validation when in-state four-star defensive lineman Kyle Phillips stepped up to the table at the Army All-American Game and chose the Vols over an offer list that included LSU, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and just about any other major contender in college football.
And while nabbing Phillips was a coup for the Vols after the 6-4, 250-pound defensive end showed major interest in LSU and Ole Miss especially, there’s still some work for Jones to do to back up his statement.
Tennessee’s 2015 recruiting class sits anywhere between No. 3 and No. 6 nationally as of Saturday night, according to the major recruiting sites. UT’s 27-man class, on the surface, appears to be filled past capacity, but Jones always says that recruiting is a fluid process and also seems to be a wizard at maximizing how many players he can pack into a class.
That’s why he’s still going. Tackle Pat Allen, linebacker Quarte Sapp, running backs Bryce Love and John Kelly, receiver Ryan Newsome and quarterback Sheriron Jones are among the targets the Vols are still hunting in the final month of recruiting.
“If you’re a prospective student athlete, you want to be part of something special, you come to the University of Tennessee, point blank,” Jones said on Friday.
With the momentum the Vols have after the end of the season and some of the recent additions on the recruiting trail, it’s tough to argue with him.