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Ask Mike: Tennessee losing ground

Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for He tackles your questions in his weekly Ask Mike feature.
Previous mailbags
Nov 5: What's next for Ohio State?
Oct 22: Auburn will be fine
Oct 15: South Carolina gaining
Got a question? Click here to send it to Mike Farrell
Has Tennessee gone three-star crazy?
How much defense is Michigan landing?
Can Ohio State land Jadeveon Clowney?
These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell in this week's mailbag.
Tennessee needs to rally
I know Derek Dooley has recruited well in his other coaching stops. His ability to keep the mid-term enrollees and land some big recruits last year was phenomenal, but what is with all the three-star players committed?
- Jim in Rogersville, Tenn.
Tennessee did close well last year and did a great job of closing on Justin Hunter, Eddrick Loften, Da'Rick Rogers and James Stone. However, this year hasn't been going as well. This is an average class at best for the Vols. But just when you start to count them out, they pull off a huge recruiting win with DeAnthony Arnett and this could be a sign of another strong finish.
I always have high expectations for Tennessee in recruiting. I still think the Vols should have more than just four four-star recruits out of 18 at this stage. They clearly need to close strong and Arnett is a great start. Otherwise they will find themselves outside the SEC's top six in recruiting for the first time since 2008 when they finished well outside the top 25.
They have to get Antonio Richardson, Cameron Clear, Maurice Couch and others down the stretch, and pull a few surprises, to stay in the top 25 and finish in the top half of the SEC. I just don't see this being as good as last year when a lot of the work was done by Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron.
Getting defensive
I was curious what your views on Michigan's defensive recruiting this year are?
- Nate from Cary, N.C.
The recent addition of Dallas Crawford certainly helps, but it's a small defensive class so far. However, it's not a bad one at all. Brennen Beyer is a very good player and Delonte Hollowell has a lot of upside and athleticism despite being small for a cornerback. Greg Brown is also solid at defensive back and Kellen Jones has upside as a linebacker. Chris Rock has upside as well but I'm not as sold on him as the others in this class.
Michigan needs to add Anthony Zettel for sure. He could be the most important recruit left on the board, and Kris Frost would be a huge boost to the defensive class. I think the Wolverines lead for both. They also lead now for cornerback Blake Countess.
Michigan is involved with a bunch of other top defensive prospects such as Hasean Clinton-Dix, Doran Grant, Avery Walls, Timmy Jernigan, Deion Barnes, Branden Jackson, Mickey Johnson, Austin Traylor, Darian Cooper, Lamar Dawson and others. While they don't lead outright for any of them, I think they can pull a couple of them. A lot depends on how Michigan finishes the season but it appears that Rich Rodriguez is safe so I expect a good finish in recruiting.
Buckeyes clowning around?
What are Ohio State's chances at convincing Jadeveon Clowney to come to Columbus?
- Ben from Twinsburg, Ohio
If the Buckeyes get him on campus anything can happen. But I really feel he stays in the SEC. South Carolina is the team to beat and after that it's anyone's guess. I still think Alabama is No. 2 and Auburn, Florida State, Ohio State and the rest are trailing. Just the fact that the only school outside the Southeast that Clowney wants to visit is a compliment to the recruiting efforts of the Buckeyes staff and shows the long reach of the program. But don't get your hopes up too high.
LSU pushes for No. 1
Will the LSU victory over Alabama help with any of the undecided recruits?
- Trey from New Orleans, La.
It certainly won't hurt. Alabama has become what Florida was recently and what USC was a few years ago: Your program gets a ton of attention if it beats them.
The Tigers are involved with many top prospects such as Ray Drew, Greg Robinson, Zach Mettenberger, Timmy Jernigan, the trio from Dwyer, Jermauria Rasco and others. You can bet they were all paying attention to the Alabama win.
With all the in-state talent in Louisiana we knew this was going to be a big recruiting year for LSU, but now it has a chance to steal a few big names from other states and push for No. 1.
Pack is not back
What is going on with the recruiting situation at N.C. State? Are we just having a hard time or are we targeting the big names and it's taking awhile?
- Michael from Raleigh, N.C.
This is a good question. N.C. State has been so up and down this year after a strong start that I think recruits don't know what to think. After a 4-0 start it is 2-3 since, with tough losses to Virginia Tech and Clemson, and a bad loss to East Carolina. A lot of people, myself included, expected the Wolfpack to steal a few recruits from North Carolina with all the problems the Heels have had off the field, but that hasn't happened.
I still think the Pack will swipe a few committed players and finish outside of the ACC basement, but it doesn't look like it's shaping up to be a very good recruiting year and certainly nothing like last year.
Irish need to close strong
How do you think Brian Kelly is doing at Notre Dame?
- Terry from Montgomery, Ala.
Not as good as he was a few weeks ago when the Irish had Jordan Prestwood, Aaron Lynch and Clay Burton. But overall I'd say he and his staff have been solid. Some of Notre Dame's commitments such as Stephon Tuitt, Justice Hayes, Matthew Hegarty and George Atkinson III are absolute home runs. The Irish have five Rivals100 commitments, which is right up there or better than many programs having better years on the field.
These will be impact guys in South Bend but others could be classified as reaches. The class didn't start off that strongly and it took awhile for the staff to hit its stride. The way Notre Dame finishes this class will be key. The loss to Navy was harmful, the play-calling at the end of the Tulsa game has been questioned by many and I think the Irish need a couple of big wins down the stretch to close on all the guys they want.
If they can upset Utah or USC it will certainly help and they can't afford to lose to Army. A 4-8 season would be a disaster and could kill their chances for Ishaq Williams, Savon Huggins, Christian French, Amir Carlisle and others. The Irish will get their share of top players but I'd currently rate this as a top-heavy class for now.
Florida State's future
Whose more likely to end up at FSU - Jadeveon Clowney, Ray Drew or Timmy Jernigan?
- Kyle from Orlando, Fla.
I'd have to say Jernigan out of the three. Clowney has FSU on his list but I think he's headed to South Carolina as I mentioned previously. Drew is hard to read but I keep hearing more about Georgia and Auburn with him. At one point I thought Jernigan was a lock for Florida and I still think it will be a factor here, but with Alabama, FSU, LSU and Michigan as his top four, the 'Noles have a good shot.
Grant and Michigan State
What do you think are the chances of Doran Grant signing with Michigan State? Is Ohio State going to be too hard to overcome or will the idea of walking in his father's footsteps push MSU over the edge?
- Chad from Detroit
I don't see it happening and if it does, it will be a surprise despite his family ties to the Spartans. According to almost every source I talk to, Ohio State has a large edge here and has for quite some time despite the terrific season Michigan State is having on the field. Grant is a fit for either program and I think he sees the field early either way, but it's been an uphill battle for the Spartans to overcome the early OSU lead.
Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.