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Take Two: With Jones in trouble, what happens to Vols' 2018 class?

Cade Mays
Nick Lucero / Rivals.com

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

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Tennessee coach Butch Jones is on the hot seat. That is hardly breaking news.

It got ramped up even more after the Vols got blasted by Georgia, 41-0, last weekend in Knoxville following a dismal performance in a close win over UMass and a last-second loss to rival Florida.

Jones is 14-20 in the SEC in his fifth season and has yet to reach the SEC championship game despite the SEC East being relatively weak.

There is no question Jones has a short leash, but also no question Tennessee has been recruiting really well this cycle, led by five-star offensive tackle Cade Mays out of Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic.

Getting top players to Rocky Top has not been an issue during Jones’ tenure. Developing them and getting Tennessee back to the top of the SEC have been the failed challenges.

So is this Tennessee class, ranked fifth nationally and tops in the SEC, on the verge of falling apart after a disappointing start for the Vols? Can Jones turn things around quickly in Knoxville, resetting things during this bye week?

Or would a new coach at Tennessee breathe new life into the program and keep top talent – like the Vols have committed now with Mays, defensive end Greg Emerson and a host of other talented local prospects – in hopes of a resurgence under a new regime?


“It's still too early to talk about Tennessee's class falling apart. Things aren't looking great, especially with several notable visitors on hand to witness the Vols’ blowout loss to Georgia, but there is still time for them to turn things around.

“Five-star offensive lineman Cade Mays is the crown jewel of the class and even if Tennessee loses every game for the rest of the season, I can't see him landing elsewhere. I do think some of the out-of-state commits, including guys like Jaycee Horn and Trey Dean, could be ripe for competitors to flip, but surely the Vols coaches are selling the opportunity to come in and contribute early in Knoxville. If a coaching change is made, there will be some guys who end up elsewhere, but with the number of in-state commits, things will still turn out well for the Vols when it comes to recruiting.”


“Mays strikes me as a kid who’s going to stick no matter what. For others, there is going to be a wait-and-see approach. With the early signing period this year, it’s going to be a lot more interesting. I don’t think Tennessee can worry about recruiting classes. Jones’ first true recruiting class was a top-five class and where has that gotten him? They have to worry about the coach.

“They need to make a good hire because they’ve missed on the last three with Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and now Jones. They need to make a good hire and get the right guy in there and then recruiting will take care of itself. If they lose to South Carolina or get destroyed by Alabama, or both, he could be fired midseason and then you’ll see the recruiting class scramble. If he lasts through the end of the season, you won’t see much of an impact on the class.”