Why Butch Jones Has Ruled 2014 Recruiting
The Lane Kiffin era was short and not so sweet, as the Volunteers struggled to a 7-6 season back in 2009 in Kiffin's only season at the helm. The Derek Dooley era was considerably worse, with the former coach leading Tennessee to three straight losing seasons.
The last time the Vols had a winning record in the SEC? 2007. If you don't want to do the math, that's six years of futility in conference play.
During that time, Tennessee fans have had to sit back and watch in-state rival Vanderbilt go to three straight bowl games, a stretch that included back-to-back wins over the Vols. They've also had to sit back and watch SEC team after SEC team play for the national title.
For a team that has experienced so much success in its history, that can get quite old.
However, for the first time in a while, there is a massive amount of hope surrounding the Tennessee football program. And that hope lies on the shoulders of Butch Jones' 2014 recruiting class, which has the potential to be one of the best to go into Knoxville in many years.
Pre-signing day, Jones has already received 34 commitments from top talent throughout the country. 14 of those commitments are early enrollees that are already gearing up for spring practice.
So, why has Jones been so successful in getting this type of talent to commit to the Vols?
It's simple, really -- he knew Tennessee's weaknesses and executed his plan for curing them to perfection.
It's no secret that Dooley left Tennessee an absolute mess. That's not a knock on the current players, but frankly, talent needed to be upgraded at pretty much every single position on the roster. Depth has been a major issue over the years, so Jones has had the luxury of adding talent in numbers with his first true recruiting class as head coach of the Volunteers.
It has also helped that Jones has been able to find success within the state.
Players like five-star wide receiver Josh Malone and five-star running back Jalen Hurd weren't choosing Tennessee a few years ago. The program was in shambles, and there was seemingly no hope on the horizon for things to change.
But Jones has been able to lock up those types of players in this dominant class. He's been able to keep SEC-caliber players at home, and there's no doubting the importance of that when it comes to recruiting as a whole. Winning your state makes recruiting a much simpler process.
In recruiting, there is no major formula for success. However, as they say, fortune favors the bold.
Jones has shown no signs of being anything other than bold in his recruiting practices. He's going after the top players in the country, and guess what? He's getting them.
To recruits, I'm sure Jones is presenting Tennessee as one of the top programs not only in the SEC, but in the country.
While recent history may not agree with that, if Jones can continue to build classes such as this one, it may be sooner rather than later when those claims become validated.
Will this recruiting class turn around Tennessee football? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow @FanIQ or myself on Twitter!