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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Quick Word from Tennessee Folks

Our inbox is absolutely slammed with emails and we're probably going to have to bone up and pay for unlimited bandwidth for the site because for some reason, within the last 48 hours, this place has gone nuts. 

We only have a second for a quick post based on an email that was recently sent to us.

My name is Daniel Lewis and I am a TN alum and writer for www.tnvarsity.com. I noticed back in March that you asked for a site with a breakdown of TN's roster so here you go: http://www.ericspcrepair.com/lwsvol/UT_Roster_Class.html  I agree with the principle of your site, I think schools such as Alabama and Auburn have intentionally oversigned with the intent of "nudging" some fringe players out in order to assure having the best 85 man roster possible every year, and that this is not illegal, but it is a loophole that the NCAA needs to close. However, I venture to say that the consequences of not oversigning can be quite detrimental when you get in a situation like Tennessee is in currently. That roster I sent you reveals 77 scholarship players, and that number may even be higher than what Tn puts on the field in the fall as a few incoming recruits are still resolving Clearinghouse/academic issues (DT John Brown / DB Dave Clark for example). So essentially TN will be playing with scholarship numbers that resemble teams in the past that have been found guilty of major NCAA violations, partly because they have not oversigned the way other SEC schools have. Hopefully this adds some data and insight to your website.

Thanks for the email Daniel - we did a brief post on Tennessee's situation earlier, here, and it appears that we are on the same page.   There is no question that Tennessee will be playing short-handed this year, it will also be interesting to monitor how Dooley recruits over the next couple of years. 

His situation is a little different than Saban's in that he will have roster room to take a legit full class of 25 next year and may be able to get 3 more to come in early and back count in order to get the numbers back.  And, as long as he has plenty of room under the 85 max there really isn't a problem with any of that.  The problem comes when you only have 19 slots open and you still sign 29 guys and you do that 3 years in row - that is when this becomes a problem.

This is going to be very interesting because Dooley was a recruiting coordinator under Saban while he was at LSU. 

Great stuff and thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

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What Happens when you don’t Oversign?

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.

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