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Ask Farrell: Does absence at NFL Combine hurt Tennessee?

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When it comes to NFL Scouting Combine numbers by conference, the SEC completely blows away everyone else. It’s not even close.

SEC schools are sending 90 players to the workouts in Indianapolis. The next closest conference is the Big Ten, with 53. That is great news for SEC schools when it comes to recruiting as well, except for Tennessee, the only school in the conference that is not sending one player.

According to ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., that will change soon.

“The recruiting class coming in this year is outstanding,” Kiper said. “Keep in mind, Preston Williams was there at Tennessee and left to go to Colorado State and Preston Williams will probably be a second-round draft choice. He had an outstanding year at Colorado State. He’s the third- or fourth-best receiver in this draft class. It will change now with these recruits coming in, and it’s all tied to that. The recruits coming in are going to get Tennessee back having a lot of early-round picks.”

Tennessee finished with the No. 12 recruiting class nationally this cycle, led by five-star offensive line signee Darnell Wright and 12 four-stars, including Quavaris Crouch, Wanya Morris and others.

If it weren’t for transfers from Williams and Baylor’s Jalen Hurd, the Vols would have at least two players headed to Indianapolis. draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said there isn’t a more talented receiver in this draft than Williams.

“He is tall, he is smooth, he's explosive,” Jeremiah said. “You see him as a kickoff returner, what he can do. He has got unique, unique talent and ability. You've just got to sort through the off-the-field stuff, and that's why I kind of push him down a little bit as I continue to try and learn more about him. But you see special one-handed catches. I mentioned the big-time juice as a returner. He's an easy mover at 6-foot-4, 213 pounds. So he's somebody teams are going to do their homework on, and if they can feel good about him off the field, he could work his way into the second round. He's that type of ability.”


We ask National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell if he sees Tennessee not having any players going to the combine as a detriment to its recruiting efforts, or if coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff can sell early playing time and having an instant impact to top recruits and thus getting more high-end players to Knoxville and then to the NFL?

“I don’t think it will hurt them at all, but it doesn’t help either. This is the time of year to sell NFL development, and while Tennessee has some very good players in the league the absence from the combine is odd. But I don’t think there’s a kid on the Vols' list that will eliminate them because they aren’t having a big year in the combine or the draft. Jeremy Pruitt and his staff recruit very well and should put together another class that is close to the top 10 nationally once again. This speaks more to the inability of Butch Jones to develop players in his tenure at Tennessee, and those days are long gone.”