Butch Jones is out at Tennessee, and so is the top-10 recruiting class he had worked hard to build.
Jones was fired on Sunday near the end of his fifth season in Knoxville, and the reaction was swift from a handful of Tennessee recruits, some of whom had been committed to the Vols for quite some time. Tennessee had three decommitments Sunday, and a few others said they would be weighing their options.
Contrast Jones’ exit to what happened at Florida in the wake of Jim McElwain’s departure: Tennessee lost commitments in a few hours, while Florida has lost one and has picked up one. The decommitment came from four-star receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who was probably 50-50 to sign with Florida anyway.
Four-star athlete Alontae Taylor of Manchester (Tenn.) Coffee County Central, who was one of the marquee recruits in the class and had been committed to the Vols since June 18, 2016, decommitted from Tennessee just minutes after Jones was fired.
Keep in mind that the class had taken a major hit a few days before Jones’ firing when five-star offensive tackle Cade Mays of Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic decommitted. Mays was UT’s highest-ranked recruit in this class and is considered a national top-15 prospect. He and Taylor were among UT’s top five committed prospects for 2018.
There is little doubt how much the commitments in the Tennessee 2018 class liked Jones and his staff. Jones is known for being solid on the recruiting trail, and the reaction by many commitments to his firing would certainly back that up.
Tennessee still has good talent committed for their 2018 class, but there is no doubt that the class took some big blows over the past week. It will be up to the new coach to salvage it.
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreenGN)
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