On Monday night in Phoenix, the college football season came to an end when the Auburn Tigers bested the Oregon Ducks to win the national championship.
For the casual fan, the end of the bowl season signifies the beginning of a long wait for next season but for the die hard fan it just means that it is time to transition into that next phase of fandom.
With less than three weeks til National Signing Day (Feb. 2nd) schools across the country are scrambling to garner a signature from the nation's best high school football players, and it is no different for Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and the Vols.
For the past two seasons, Volunteer football fans have become accustomed to spending their offseason talking about staff turnover as opposed to recruiting, but now with Dooley at the helm the Vols focus their attention on what seems to be a crucial class for the Vols.
Currently the Vols rank 21st nationally in recruiting per rivals.com team recruiting rankings with 20 commitments. SEC rules stipulate that a team can only sign 28 prospects and enroll 25 prospects. Which means the Vols are likely to have room for about 8 more signees before NSD. These are some of the names to watch out for as we move towards February 2nd.
4* GA DT Gabe Wright
Wright is very high on the Vols radar at this point and has definitely shown interest in the Vols, but the favorite appears to be Auburn. One thing working in the Vols favor is that Wright's mother is not sold on Auburn and seems to be more comfortable with UT.
4* MS Juco DE Leon Mackey
Mackey has publicly narrowed his choices down to UT and Mississippi State with the very slight edge going to the Bulldogs. UT certainly has a good shot here, but grades remain to be an issue here.
4* FL DE Curt Maggitt
Maggitt is a fairly new name on the radar and appears to have legitimate interest in the Vols as he has decided to make a surprise visit this weekend. It will be interesting to see how serious Maggitt is about UT after this visit.
4* LA DT Mickey Johnson
Johnson's recruitment has been all over the place. He has declared multiple leaders throughout the process (including Tennessee) but it does appear that the Vols are in the thick of it. Grades are going to be a major concern with Johnson though.
Longshots: Jermauria Rasco, Jeoffrey Pagan, Timmy Jernigan
4* KY LB Lamar Dawson
Most seem to believe that Dawson currently rests at the top of the Vols big board. He has been difficult to get a read on but he will give the Vols his last visit on January 28th.
3* FL LB Kent Turene
Turene has been committed to USC west for a long time but has expressed interest in looking around, and the Vols do appear to be looking to take another LB in this class. Turene is scheduled to visit on the 21st.
4* MS LB C.J. Johnson
The question here seems to be are the Vols actually interested in Johnson. He says he is interested in them but it doesn't look like the love is being reciprocated here as the Vols take a wait and see approach on Dawson. Don't count on Johnson as a fall back plan though, as Dawson isn't likely to make a decision before NSD.
Longshots: Jaiari Dunaway
4* CA Juco DB Byron Moore
Moore is down to UT, Miami, Oregon State and Ole Miss right now and at one point the Vols appeared to hold a comfortable edge for the talented safety, but now Miami is making up ground. The Vols need a safety so it will be interesting to see if they can stave off the Hurricane's charge.
4* MS Juco DB Izauea Lanier
Lanier is a guy who was all but a done deal to the Vols in early December when it was thought that he would be a mid-term enrollee. After failing to qualify for the mid-term enrollment, he has had the opportunity to open things up and still has interest in the Vols but hasn't talked much lately.
3* GA DB Geraldo Orta
Orta grew up a Vols fan but has been committed to Clemson for a long time. He appears open to listen to only the Vols and Clemson and the Vols have the good fortune of having his last visit.
Longshots: Kadetrix Marcus