New Vols coach Butch Jones scores some wins on Signing Day
Josh Dobbs (source: InsideTennessee.com)
MarQuez North (left) and Jaylen Miller (source: InsideTennessee.com)
CAK teammates (left to right) offensive lineman Brett Kendrick, quarterback Charlie High and wide receiver Josh Smith are joining the Vols.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Butch Jones era of Tennessee football officially begins on August 31 when the Vols face Austin Peay. On Wednesday fans were given their first view of what the era will look like.
The day was National Football Signing Day, when high school players can sign their national letter of intent and officially make their selection of a college team.
The Vols signed 22 players. Though they missed out on a few top prospects, the coaching staff also reeled in several big "gets" in their limited time to prepare.
Coach Jones had only two months to assemble a coaching staff and patch together a recruiting effort. By the time the fax machine stopped humming with signed letters from recruits, Jones had assembled a Top 25 or 30 class, which included four 4-star recruits and 13 3-star recruits.
The day brought a couple of pleasant surprises for the coaching staff. One was the signing of Josh Dobbs, a four-star quarterback who selected the Vols at the last minute over the Arizona State Sun Devils.
The 6-foot 3-inch, 190 lb. standout from Alpharetta, Ga. was ranked as the Top 12 quarterback in the country by Scout and the No. 20 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.
Another of Coach Jones' top recruits is 6-foot 4-inch, 214 lb. wide receiver MarQuez North.
Widely considered by many recruiting services as the top wide receiver prospect in the country, North was the top prospect to come out of North Carolina in 2012.
He played at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C., an area where Tennessee has not heavily recruited in recent years.
Signing Day also included a pleasant bonus when Rivals three-star prospect Jaylen Miller, a 6-foot 2-inch, 265 lb. defensive end from Gaffney, S.C. sent his letter of intent to Tennessee. After visiting the Knoxville campus in January, Miller appeared to be considering other offers.
Miller was the number 13 overall prospect in South Carolina and was heavily recruited by at least 16 other schools. He turned down offers from SEC rivals South Carolina, Alabama, LSU. Georgia, Kentucky and Florida.
Two signed recruits are from Knoxville. Offensive lineman Brett Kendrick and wide receiver Josh Smith were teammates at Christian Academy of Knoxville. Their quarterback at CAK, Charlie High, will join the Vols as a preferred walk-on.
The final letter to be received Wednesday was from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. defensive end Malik Brown, who waited until noon he had signed witih Tennessee. He had been reported to be leaning for Syracuse.
Not every commitment went Tennessee's way. The coaching staff was particularly hopeful to land Vonn Bell, a five-star safety from Rossville, Ga. Bell chose instead to sign with Ohio State.
Though outside linebacker EJ Levenberry had verbally committed to Florida State last summer, the Vols thought they had a good chance of changing his mind and he appeared to be wavering. In the end, though, he stuck with the Seminoles.