Thanks to Butch Jones, Tennessee recruiting is experiencing tremendous success, but that likely won't be enough to garner the Volunteers the No. 1 class when all is said and done.
That's not to say that Tennessee won't have a stellar class or that Jones hasn't put together a program-changing group of recruits, so keep that in mind. As it stands, according to the 247Sports team rankings, the Vols do have the nation's top class.
The odds that Tennessee finishes No. 1 are small, though.
Realistically, this could be the class that starts to change the tide at Tennessee. Thinking that this could be a No. 1 class though is quite unrealistic.
That has less to do with Tennessee and more to do with the potential some of these other classes out there possess.
LSU, for one, seems to be a legitimate contender to come away with the No. 1 class on signing day 2014. The Tigers already have 14 recruits and are ranked No. 12, per the 247Sports team rankings. Les Miles and his staff have put together a good class, but just check out this group of elite uncommitted recruits that have a high interest in the Tigers, all according to their respective 247Sports interest lists:
Top ranked running back Leonard Fournette, 5-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, 5-star cornerback Tony Brown, 5-star safety Laurence Jones, 5-star receiver Malachi Dupre, 5-star defensive tackle Gerald Willis. 4-star wideout Speedy Noil and 4-star linebacker Clifton Garrett.
If LSU lands even half of those recruits, a No. 1 class would be in reach.
Then there's Alabama to consider. Nick Saban is the best recruiter in college football, and if the Tide go on to win another championship, elite recruits will find it hard to turn their offer down. 'Bama already has the No. 4 class, and it's in the running for its own set of elite recruits which does include Fournette, Robinson and Brown.
The Tide are also high on the list with top strong-side defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, 5-star weak-side defensive end Lorenzo Carter, top cornerback Marlon Humphrey, 5-star inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan and top wide receiver Ermon Lane.
Much like LSU, if Saban lands just half of those recruits, Alabama should compete for the No. 1 class, again.
Also consider programs like Texas A&M, Florida State and Michigan, who are all riding some incredible hot streaks in recruiting. Michigan, in particular, seems to be well on its way to restoring itself as a national recruiting power under coach Brady Hoke, and Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles have been quietly dominating the recruiting trail.
In fact, according to ESPN, the Seminoles' class just became the top ranked class in the country. That will most likely change before signing day comes and goes though, and the same could be said for Tennessee's lofty rankings.
Again, it's important to remember that this is not an indictment against Tennessee or Jones, but more so a realistic look at how these other classes could turn out.
We haven't even talked about Urban Meyer and Ohio State, who are always major players near the end of the cycle.
In the end, Tennessee will come away with a stellar class and Volunteers fans will have plenty to be proud of. Having a No. 1 class is a testament to a coach's recruiting prowess and it helps build hype, but rankings aren't everything. The Jones era of Tennessee football will be defined by how well he can coach the classes he brings in, so in the end that's what really matters.
Rankings are the topic at hand though, and the reality is, while Tennessee is poised to finish with a top class, it likely will not finish with the top class.
Note: Class rankings courtesy of the 247Sports team rankings, unless otherwise noted. Star rankings courtesy of the 247Sports Composite.
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