Ask any coach across the country what the single most important factor towards being a successful head coach, and they will likely tell you that it is recruiting. It's not the only part, because after you recruit the talent you have to develop the players and of course game-plan towards the opponents' talents, but it all starts with recruiting.
Derek Dooley and the Vols would likely agree with that statement as they are now in year two of what looks to be a multi-year rebuilding period for the once proud Tennessee program.
Tonight Dooley and the Vols got one step closer to their goal of upgrading the level of talent for the University of Tennessee football program when they received a commitment from Under Armour All-American Marcus Jackson. Jackson committed live, on national television, while participating in the contest about an hour ago.
Jackson is rated as a 3-star guard by rivals.com, but is listed as the nation's 83rd-best player and a 4-star prospect by ESPN, which garnered him the invitation to the Under Armour All-America Game (televised by ESPN.)
He is a big commitment for the Vols at a position of need. Anyone who has seen a UT game this season would probably be quick to note that the Vols were extremely thin in the trenches on both sides of the football and need all the help they can get.
And the Vero Beach, Florida, native will have an opportunity to provide exactly that in 2011.
Jackson is a road-grading run blocker, who lacks the height to play on the outside, but has the athleticism to be a devastating pulling guard and possibly the football intelligence to even make the move to center.
Marcus Jackson now makes 20 commitments in total for the Vols' 2011 recruiting class, and with less than one month until national signing day (Feb. 2nd) you can expect the Vols coaching staff to be hard on the recruiting trail throughout the month of January.
It will be interesting to see how Dooley and staff work with numbers, as the Vols likely only have room to sign about eight more prospects and are currently in on close to two dozen prospects.
Dooley was able to do a great job last season holding together the class that former Vol head man Lane Kiffin had assembled, while managing to add a few key pieces of his own.
But with this being Coach Dooley's first full class you can bet that Vol fans will be looking for a strong close from this staff.
I know I will certainly be looking forward to buckling in for a wild ride as we approach NSD.