With just over a week until signing day, Rivals’ top five recruiting classes are as follows: Alabama, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Florida State.
Tennessee hasn’t played in a bowl game, let alone contended for a BCS bowl, since 2010. The Vols haven’t won eight or more games, or been ranked in the final AP poll, since 2007, when they went 10-4 under Phillip Fulmer.
But recruits are nonetheless buying into the sales pitches of Butch Jones and his coaching staff — case in point, four-star running back Derrell Scott committing to the Vols on Monday over South Carolina, a program that’s won 11 games in each of the last three seasons, as well as Florida.
“They didn’t have their best year, but everybody fought and played hard,” Scott told Go Vols Xtra. “That showed a lot to me.”
Tennessee’s fourth-ranked class features two five-star commits, 15 four stars and 16 three stars. A year ago, Tennessee signed five four-star recruits and 15 three stars.
Jones didn’t have a ton to work with in his first year at Tennessee, though a 23-21 win over South Carolina stood out. The Vols suffered a heartbreaking loss to Georgia, too, though weren’t competitive against Oregon, Alabama, Mizzou or Auburn.
It’s worth noting elite recruiting classes aren’t guaranteed to turn into on-field success. But with Tennessee, Ole Miss and even Kentucky putting together highly-ranked recruiting classes and Mizzou winning a dozen games last season, the SEC is getting awfully strong beneath its upper echelon.