In Tennessee's case you end up with a scholarship shortfall and monstrous holes in your 2-deep roster. Just recently Tennessee announced that 5-Star running back Bryce Brown left the team, and today it was announced that starting offensive lineman, Aaron Douglas, is leaving the program. Those are two big holes to fill.
Tennessee signed 25 recruits this year in Derek Dooley's first year as Head Coach of the Volunteers. Dooley arrived late on the heels of Lane Kiffen's departure to USC and didn't have a whole lot of time to put a recruiting class together. In fact, Dooley had to scramble at the last minute to try and hold the class together amidst all of the coaching changes. All things considered, however, it appears that Dooley did a great job with the recruiting class. His class ended up ranked 9th nationally by the time it was all said and done.
Based on recruiting numbers alone, Tennessee has signed 32, 18, 22, and 25 over the last 4 years, which equals 97, but to determine how many players were on scholarship on signing day we need to know how many seniors left, how many juniors left early for the NFL draft, and how many seniors with a year of eligibility left came back for a 5th year. If we had to guess, Tennessee probably had somewhere around 60 scholarship players returning. We haven't seen any articles on Tennessee oversigning this year, and looking at their historical numbers they are not has high as Alabama's or Auburn's.
Some of the Tennessee fans seemed to think that Dooley was going to sign 30-32 players in this class.
"Maybe promised was the wrong word. We (the fans) were told by numerous articles this past week to expect UT to sign 30-32 players with 5 of them counting on last years class. If UT doesn't do this, then they will continue to be way under manned to other teams. We were down 22 players last year and could make up 5 of those this year if we would sign them."
Obviously that didn't happen, as Tennessee signed 25 recruits. But you can bet UT fans are going to be wishing they had signed 30-32; they are going to need the extra players if they have any hope whatsoever in competing with someone like Alabama who still needs to shed players in order to get down to 85.
We need your help! If any Volunteer fans know of a site that offers an updated roster break down, similar to this one for Notre Dame, please pass along a link. In case you can't read the numbers, the ND chart shows that they have 5 fifth year seniors, 15 seniors, 22 juniors, 18 sophomores, and 23 freshmen. The 23 freshmen come from Brian Kelly's first recruiting class. Important note here, ND only has 83 total scholarship players going into fall camp - not 95 like Alabama the last couple of years. But back to the topic at hand...we need help getting solid numbers for Tennessee.
Where are we going with this??? We are trying to show you what happens when you don't oversign and then suffer unexpected attrition after signing day. In Alabama's case, the loss of two players like Brown and Douglas would hurt, but it wouldn't hurt nearly as bad as it is going to hurt Tennessee. They are going to have to wait until next year to fill those holes, unless they can find a JUCO transfer at the last minute. This is why guys like Saban oversign on signing day...they don't wait until the attrition happens and then seek out additional recruits to fill in for the losses because the only thing left after signing day is table scraps.
Dooley is a disciple of the Saban coaching tree having coached under Saban while at LSU and Miami, but he obviously skipped the course on oversigning. In his time at La Tech (2007-2009), Dooley signed, 22, 22, and 26 players; those numbers were lower than his predecessor at La Tech so without doing a full-blown investigation it appears on the surface that Dooley is not a coach that is going to consistently oversign every year like Saban. If nothing else, Mark Richt should enjoy some company in the non-oversigning category of coaches in the SEC.