Part of discussion about Butch Jones’ future at Tennessee has to include 2018 recruiting class

Tennessee coach Butch Jones
Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports

Following Tennessee’s 41-0 loss to Georgia on Saturday at Neyland Stadium, the first shutout loss for Tennessee in more than two decades, more and more Vols fans seemingly are done with Butch Jones.

Jones is in his fifth season at Tennessee and is 33-23 overall but only 14-20 in the SEC. There are fewer and fewer reasons to think Jones will – and should – remain as Tennessee’s coach. But there is one big exception: Jones and the Vols are killing it on the recruiting trail.

Tennessee currently has a top-10 recruiting class nationally in the 2018 recruiting cycle and has the best class of any SEC program. At the same time, fear of losing recruits should not necessarily be high on the priority list when it comes to potentially removing a coach.

RELATED: Butch Jones, Tennessee searching for answers after embarrassing loss to Georgia

Many will argue that having good recruiting hauls at Tennessee has not lead to the desired results on the field for Jones. But this 2018 class has the potential to be different. Among the high-profile prospects committed to Tennessee are five-star offensive tackle Cade Mays and four-star talents such as wide receiver Alontae Taylor, defensive end Greg Emerson and quarterback Adrian Martinez. And in talking with many Tennessee recruits in the 2018 class, one thing is clear: They all love Butch Jones.

Many of the recruits GN has spoken with over the past few months point to their relationship with Jones as one of the main reasons they committed to Tennessee. A sampling:

From cornerback Jaycee Horn: “I love the family atmosphere they have up at Tennessee. I talk to the coaches there almost every day. I feel at home when I go up there.”

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From quarterback Michael Penix: “I’ve always had a strong relationship with the coaches at Tennessee, and it’s just getting stronger as we go on.”

From cornerback Brandon Cross: “I talk with Coach Jones almost every day. Me and Coach Jones have a really good connection.”

There is no denying the struggles Tennessee is having on the field. There is no denying that Tennessee fans have some legitimate reasons for wanting Jones removed. But there also is no denying that replacing Jones could have a major impact on the Volunteers’ 2018 recruiting class.

(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreenGN)

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