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“What will the staff be able to do with this class packed full of 3-star players when they’ve had trouble developing 5 stars?” – Grant Winfree
Daniel: Fair question. They’re still in it for a handful of highly-ranked guys, but there will probably be more three-star caliber players in this class than in recent years. They better hope the evaluations on them were solid and then they need to do a better job developing them than they have on some of the five-stars from recent years.
Nathanael: Jones better go out and get some assistants this offseason who are better developers of talent than they’ve had the last few years. Certain units have developed well and have looked much better than others. I think it’s clear which ones have and have not. But this class is definitely a “project class” aside from the top six or seven. And right now, this staff isn’t equipped to develop such a class. But I expect this coaching staff to look different in a few months.
“How purple is Butch’s face reading the Haney article?” – Alan Baird
Daniel: Wooo, buddy, maybe a different shade than we’ve ever seen. He’s not going to like the article in general, he’s going to be upset that people around the program would say things like that and it won’t be pretty, I bet. Program culture is one of the things he takes the most pride in. Changes need to be made though, no doubt.
Nathanael: His face is the color of a suit the late artist formerly known as Prince would wear.
“DeBord retires, who’s up to replace him?” – Jake Tidwell
Daniel: Ousted Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich’s name is circulating around as a possibility. If you can get him, I think that’d be a great way to get somebody who is philosophically in the same book as you, but can maybe help you turn the page a bit. Herb Hand (Auburn) and Matt LaFleur (Atlanta Falcons) would be a couple other names to keep in mind, but it’s really too early to say. We’ll fire up the hot board if need be.
Nathanael: For one, I’d be a little surprised if DeBord retires. It’s certainly possible, but I’m not banking on it happening. If it does, however, I don’t think Helfrich will come here. I think it will be another that Butch Jones can “control” and have run his style of offense rather than someone who will come in and dictate the offense with their own scheme. Jones just likes to have control over the offense, and I think that’s part of the reason Bajakian left after the 2014 season.
Daniel: At this point, not a ton of difference. But don’t worry, 2017 will be the….never mind, I can’t.
Nathanael: The only reason I haven’t watched Westworld is because I don’t have HBO. Because that show is definitely something I’d love. So I can’t attest to that one, but you’re definitely a Vol fan if you’re programmed for suffering. “We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life,” to quote another popular sci-fi franchise.
“Who are the starting offensive tackles next season?” – Tyler Wright
Daniel: That’s a great question. If I had to bet on opening-day starters, I’d go with the veterans Brett Kendrick and Chance Hall, but Drew Richmond and Trey Smith will certainly factor in the conversation.
Nathanael: Very tough to say. Good question. As long as Trey Smith sticks with the Vols and signs on National Signing Day, he’ll be in the mix. But I’d still say it’s Kendrick and Hall like Daniel. Assuming Hall is healthy and performs more consistently, though. But I think both Richmond and Smith will push for playing time.
“So what makes John Fulkerson a fan favorite on the bball team? Do y’all think the team might actually overachieve?” – @yaboydoc
Daniel: I think Fulkerson just plays really hard. He’s a stat-sheet stuffer. Tennessee’s had some guys like Dane Bradshaw and Armani Moore in recent years who maybe weren’t the most skilled, but they hustled, made plays and you never questioned their effort. Fulkerson could turn into that guy for the next few years. In terms of the team overachieving, sure, the Vols can finish better than 13th in the SEC, but I don’t think this is going to be a team going to the NCAA tournament or even the NIT – just not enough experience and talent overall, but I like some of the young pieces Rick Barnes has. If they can get a win against somebody like North Carolina or Gonzaga, I might change my tune.
Nathanael: Fulkerson is like a taller, slightly more talented version of Dane Bradshaw if that tells you anything. He does everything you ask of him, and he has the height to consistently pull down rebounds Bradshaw couldn’t. And man, can that kid dunk. And yes, I think the Vols actually will overachieve this year. They were picked 13th in the SEC as Daniel pointed out, so even finishing 11th or 10th would technically count as overachieving. This team is young, so expect lots of ups and downs this season. But overall, I expect them to waver around the .500 mark this year and maybe make a run for the NIT Tournament. They have talent, but it’s young talent. That only works when you have five-star guys like Kentucky and Duke do year in and year out.
“Please explain how many are saying Hurd can play D1 next year without sitting out. They’re wrong aren’t they?” – Jeremy Lloyd
Daniel: He can’t play for an FBS program next year to the best of my knowledge. The only way to transfer to another FBS program and play the next year that I’m aware of is to get your undergraduate degree and then go to a school that has a graduate program not offered where you were. I don’t think that’s the situation for Hurd.. So unless there’s some other form of hardship waiver or something I’m not aware of, then yes, people who are saying that are incorrect.
“How many life championships will Trey Smith be apart of in his career at UT?” – @Rockytoptap
Daniel: Going to be tough to repeat. I probably won’t have the Vols in the top 25 in my 2017 preseason life rankings. We’ll see if they can rebuild and contend in the future.
Nathanael: Trey Smith seems like a really, really good guy. So I think the “champions of life” comment does actually apply to him, as silly as that comment was. He’s great off the field so far in his 17/18 years of existence, and I hope that continues at UT. As far as on the field championships? We’ll see. The Vols have an interesting future ahead of them.