Tennessee have Oversigning Issues?

This morning Twitter started to buzz a little with news that 2011 Tennessee signee, Geraldo "Waldo" Orta had been asked to grayshirt. 

Click to enlarge image:

According to Andrew Gribble, at GoVolsXtra, in the short Signing Day video linked below, Orta was not a last minute throw in to the 2011 recruiting class and that Orta had been a long time Clemson commitment that Tennessee was able to flip at the last minute and get to sign a LOI on NSD.  Gribble never mentions anything about a grayshirt and in fact, he thought that Orta had a real shot at seeing playing time early.


Here is a quick video of Orta just shortly after signing with Tennessee.  Note: again there is no mention of grayshirting.


The last article written on Orta, also from GoVolsXtra, indicates that Tennessee is in an oversigned position and will need to make roster space in order to get down to the 25 annual limit.  It also indicates that there have been no announcements regarding plans to grayshirt any players, for any reason.  

With that, 27 of the Vols’ 28 2011 signees are enrolled in classes and with the program. NCAA bylaws allow just 25 to be on scholarship for the upcoming season, but UT is able to have 26 because it was able to back-count one spot from the 2010 class.

Freshman defensive back Geraldo Orta, who has been enrolled since the first session of summer semester, underwent surgery Friday for his second shoulder surgery since December.

If the surgery renders Orta incapable of playing in 2011, the Vols will have two fewer additions than anticipated for their rebuilding secondary, but could now have an easier decision to make with whom to grayshirt.

Coach Derek Dooley has not announced any plans to grayshirt any members of his 2011 class, but if all 27 remain qualified and eligible when fall semester begins, one player will have to fully separate himself from the team until January.

In May, Orta told GVX247.com that he would probably redshirt the 2011 season because of a surgery he had in December.

“I hit someone on the sideline, and my arm was up at a 90-degree angle, and it popped out,” Orta told GVX247. “I stayed in the game. I played the whole season. I never really thought about coming out.

“They told me that if it happened again, just go ahead and have surgery or whatever, but they had confidence that therapy (during the season) would help it a lot.”


Based on some of Orta comments on his twitter account http://twitter.com/#!/Orta26, he seems a little upset and distraught:

Wes Rucker http://twitter.com/#!/wesrucker247 says that Tennessee hasn't confirmed anything yet, but it looks like Orta will be grayshirting.  He also mentioned that Orta had surgery on Friday.

@TheMarchTo85 That it looks like he'll be grayshirting (just had surgery), but UT hasn't confirmed anything.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Our Take:

This situation seems very cut and dry.  First of all, in this particular scenario we are dealing with the NCAA's annual limit of 25 new enrollees per class, so we don't have to waste time trying to figure out if Tennessee has room under the 85 limit, which is always a lot harder to do.  According to the article above, Tennessee signed 28 and only had room for 26, meaning they had room to back count 1 to last year's class plus they had room for 25 more under both the 85 total limit and the annual 25 limit.  Therefore, all we have to look at is the current class and the status of the 28 guys they signed on NSD.

It appears that Tennessee is in the same position as LSU was two years ago when they signed more than they projected having room for and everyone qualified, which they didn't expect, and which also led to Elliott Porter being asked to grayshirt despite already being on campus and having no idea that they were going to ask him to grayshirt.

We have asked Orta to comment, but he has yet to respond.  

There is something serious wrong with this situation.  Everyone that visits this site, whether you are pro-oversigning or anti-oversigning, agrees that when it comes to grayshirting there must be an agreement on or before NSD.  Last minute grayshirts to clear space, either for the annual 25 limit or the total 85 limit, is wrong, and it is EXACTLY what Florida President, Bernard Machen was referring to as morally reprehensible when he wrote this article.

As Wes Rucker mentioned, this has not been confirmed by Tennessee yet, but if they do push a grayshirt offer on Orta this late in the process they should be crucified for it.  Regardless, if the numbers above from the GoVolsXtra article are right, even if Orta doesn't grayshirt, someone else is going to have to go in order to get to 25.

As soon as we know more on this story we will share it.  For now we're in a holding pattern as we wait to see what Tennessee does.

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  1. 1. Who is jcheekbullgator and how reliable of a source is he?

    2. If you continue reading Orta’s twitter feed, it’s clear that he’s currently in quite an intense lovers’ spat which could be the source of the tweets you cited. In fact, after the last tweet you quoted, he tweeted the following: “Tenn vol……. I can’t get no better!”. Doesn’t sound like someone disgruntled because he was forced to greyshirt.

    Just another example of Josh’s double standard. When the Josh Jackson story came out, we had the player going on record with the AP, but Josh refused to address it until he had all the information he needed to defend Ohio State. Some anonymous guy starts a rumor on twitter with no confirmation from the player, and Josh runs with it. If you’ll notice, no legitimate journalists have touched this. Why? Because it’s irresponsible to do so with the insufficient information that is currently available. Orta could very well be greyshirting since he had shoulder surgery a few days ago, but there is no indication at this point that it’s something that he was opposed to in any way.

    Why didn’t you wait til all the information comes out in this case, Josh, like you did with James Jackson?

    • Two reasons: 1. Marc Bailey asked not to write anything on James Jackson until James enrolled in his new school, 2. James Jackson’s case, in my opinion, was never an oversigning issue and I had no intentions of writing anything on it until the AP article ran that had him quoted as saying Ohio State had an oversigning issue, at that point I felt it needed to be addressed. All of you were going nuts that I didn’t write about it.

      I’m telling you and everyone else now, we don’t know what is going to happen with Orta…but we should all be watching the situation to see how it unfolds. It appears that Tennessee is in a numbers crunch and will have to clear at least one spot.

      I confirmed bullgator’s comments with Wes Rucker who does have credentials, he says that it isn’t offical but looks to be the case.

      • Two reasons: 1. Marc Bailey asked not to write anything on James Jackson until James enrolled in his new school, 2. James Jackson’s case, in my opinion, was never an oversigning issue and I had no intentions of writing anything on it until the AP article ran that had him quoted as saying Ohio State had an oversigning issue, at that point I felt it needed to be addressed. All of you were going nuts that I didn’t write about it.

        My point was that once you decided to address it you made it clear that you wanted to gather as much information as you could including responses from Ohio State and the Big Ten before you would address it. No such due diligence was attempted in the Tennessee case.

        You claim that the Ohio State case isn’t an oversigning issue. Is the Orta cae an oversigning issue (as you define it) if Tennesse has room for him under the 85 limit? If not, you should stop calling it an oversigning issue or change your definition of oversigning.

        I confirmed bullgator’s comments with Wes Rucker who does have credentials

        The only thing I’ve seen him confirm is that Orta may be greyshirting which is really not that surprsising considering he just had surgery. I have not seen him address bullgator’s claim that Orta was forced to greyshirt because of numbers. It’s quite possible that Tennessee planned on greyshirting a different signee (the possibility of which was discussed with him beforehand), but Orta’s surgery prompted a change in plans that would be best for all parties involved with the full support of Orta.

        I ask again, who is jcheekbullgator and how reliable of a source is he?

        • You don’t seem to get the difference between roster management and oversigning. James Jackson’s case is a roster management issue (if its true), not oversigning.

          • I’m sure that’s gives great comfort to James Jackson.

            If you want to play the oversigning semantics game, then what allegedly happened to Orta isn’t an oversigning issue either. This site defines oversigning as follows:

            Oversigning – We define oversigning on this site as the act of accepting more signed letters of intent on National Signing Day then you have room for under the 85 scholarship limit

            Furthermore, Josh makes it a point to correct anyone who claims that signing over 25 is oversigning. If you recall, he really went on a tirade about the recent SEC rules changes because they addressed the 25 limit as opposed to the 85 limit. There is no indication that Tennessee is or ever was over the 85 limit. Josh’s statement that “someone else is going to have to go in order to get to 85″ is not supported by the GoVolsExtra article that he cites. I would give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant 25 but typed 85 by mistake, but such “mistakes” have become all too common from him lately.

            • Correct, that was a typo, it should have been 25 not 85.

              • Yet, you haven’t corrected it for some reason. Guess it makes for a better read with the typo, huh?

                Figure out who jcheekbullgator is yet?

                • I will correct, there is an issue with this post and the embedded video so I have to edit the HTML, otherwise if I use the wysiwyg editor and save I lose the video. Leaving 85 I’m there does not make it read better.

  2. Josh, this is actually not a bad write, though Vesper is accurate with his criticisms as well (can I straddle the dfence any more than that?) You’re right, we’ve hashed that pretty hard, but there is no way you can honestly say that the Jackson story wouldn’t have been up immediately if it had been about Bama. That aside, you are right, and this is the scenario we can all agree on if it is true. If Tennessee is just now dropping this on this young man and forcing it on him, they are wrong and I for one will join you in declaring it. But reading the story, there are scenarios that are possible where that is not the case and we should be careful before being too harsh too quick (and I never pass an opportunity to be harsh toward Tennessee!) For one, they could have another player who had agreed to take the grayshirt if needed, but with Orta’s second shoulder surgery in seven months, they want to discuss it with him first as he could use the extra year in recovery. If this or a similar scenario is occuring, then I don’t see any harm (it could in fact be a wise move on his part in the long run) but if it is just forcing a kid to wait because they got caught in the numbers crunch, then it is wrong.

    • That’s right, if it is true. Let’s see how it pans out. If Tennessee is over by one they will have to do something about it. Time will tell. I do know this much, if there was anyone who planned to grayshirt on NSD there would be talk of it already.

      • ROFL, if it is about an SEC school, Josh will post up anything, and i mean anything, to cast a bad light. If it is about his beloved OSU or Big 10, he spends weeks digging and researching before he then posts up what HIS opinion of a situation is, when he was not in the room ( a phrase he likes to use) when anyone from OSU talked to Jackson. Hypocrisy at its best.

        • If Josh had just stopped posting on this site right after NSD, he’d have probably been OK. BUt since he was basking in the glow of the national pub the concept of oversigning got in the media. But what did he do? He went on a 6-month SEC jag and blew what little bit of credibility he had to bits. Now he is like a bad episode of Scooby Doo–a cartoonish joke.

  3. Orta and Tino Thomas were made aware that they might have to greyshirt depending on rehab, if Thomas was admitted and if Eddrick Lofton got into UT. Both kids were kept in the loop the entire time. Orta’s injury is the reason why Clemson told him to look around and you are trying to make UT look bad for trying to make it work… Clemson turned on a kid that had been committed for 9 months right before NSD.

    • Orta mentions redshirting but never grayshirting, do you have a link for that?

      • No, kids that are on the bubble do not want to talk about it until it happens. Why put a negative cloud over a prospect if you don’t have to… it embareasses them when they want to feel like the BMOC for their last semester of HS. If E Loften would have gotten in… then both Orta and Tino Thomas would have grey shirted. Both players knew the situation when they signed the LOI. Thomas visited Southern Miss two weeks before NSD and opted to risk greyshirting to play in the SEC. Orta had several schools cool on him due to the injury and knew that greyshirting was a possibility depending on the number crunch.

    • And of course, as always, you have no idea what they were told and how fully they understood the risks of what they were accepting.

  4. I highly doubt UT wanted to grayshirt anyone. Considering how little depth they have, considering they have been well under the total 85 limit for several years due to coaching changes it’s highly doubtful they wanted to grayshirt anyone, especially Orta. As was pointed out Orta was highly coveted by Klempsun who signed an outstanding defensive class and obviously was priority with UT. However considering Orta is coming off 2 surgeries a redshirt was going to happen regardless. I would imagine again, as pointed out, a possible greyshirt was discussed as a possiblity with some of the lesser rated guys in UT’s class. Unfortunately it looks like it will be Orta. In this case though it’s not all bad. He simply will not be a part of the team until January.

    • That’s why I don’t like the 25 rule. A team can be under 85, yet have to turn players away due to the 25 rule. Scholarships, wasted. Players could be enrolled and getting an education, instead they are sitting on the sidelines.

      • To add to my above post. I predict in a few years, all SEC football teams will be under the 85 rule. Not sometimes under, but every year all teams will be under. How many scholarships will be going to waste? I thought the idea was to get as many kids into college as possible, this 25 rule will not allow teams to fully realize the scholarship allowance.

        Marc Bailey, would really be interested in your thoughts on this.

  5. Sounds to me like the cure is worse than the disease. Is the 25 limit a result of oversigning issues–”The Nutt Rule”? I think that Tennessee is under the 85 limit… so it sounds to me like they have to grayshirt someone because of a rule meant to curb the practice of oversigning. Irony?

    • The 25 man limit is an NCAA rule. No matter what, you can’t bring in more than 25 people. They knew they would have to greyshirt when they signed the 26th person. Or that someone who (hopefully for them) not qualify.

      • …and why does that rule exist?

        • To prevent schools from running off students.

          • That is completely wrong and illogical. Scholarship limits are primarily about two things. Money and competitive parity. Limits have on slightly less to do with the welfare of the athlete as the attack on over signing. Eliminating over signing completely would not accomplish what this site and it’s supporters claim as their core concern.

            That is one of the reason I am so vocal here. This site is about competitive balance, not SA welfare, because if it were about the welfare of SA’s there would be a completely different tack.

  6. Tennessee over-signed by two. A kid that would have had to go elsewhere now gets to play for the team of his choice and a guy who is hurt gets to wait a year on his 5/4 clock starting. What a crisis.

    • Not even a year… he can enroll in January and participate in Spring practice.

    • He gets to wait a year? Wow, he is lucky having to put his life on hold because a school oversigned! He should be thanking them for not giving him a chance to go to school in the fall and have tuition, books, etc covered.

      • This is getting tough to track. Should he be upset because his entry into college will be delayed 4-5 months? Or should he be grateful because his exploitation won’t begin for another 4-5 months? Or should he be on pins and needles hoping he actually gets to attend before someone figures out he shouldn’t be in college in the first place because he has dreams of playing in the NFL?

        It is tough to follow which of this sites arguments de jour applies in this case.

  7. According to the commenters on here, I thought all you wrote about was Alabama.

    Thanks for keeping the spotlight on these things, makes it a little harder to weasel out.

  8. “Tennessee have Oversigning Issues?”

    No! According to the definition of oversigning on this website, Tennessee is not oversigned.

    “1. Oversigning – We define oversigning on this site as the act of accepting more signed letters of intent on National Signing Day then you have room for under the 85 scholarship limit.”

    While some are being attacked for bringing up issues within comments that are not directly related to oversigning, the author chooses to post issues not related to oversigning.

  9. Oversigining is just another pitfall a student athlete has to look out for, just like the temptation of taking extra benefits. Orta was offered scholarships to 11 different D-I schools of which 3 were SEC schools with well known oversigning issues. He should have known this was a legit possibility most likely hearing the information from the other schools recruiting him. Nobody forced Orta to sign with Tennessee and if he gets gray shirted he has no one to blame because he could have gone to Clemson or Louisville or Maryland or South Florida or UCF or Wake Forest.

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