By Jonathan Deal
HOOVER — It’s no surprise why Tennessee has done so well in recruiting this off-season under Butch Jones. The new Vols head coach spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon as if the room full of sportswriters were potential recruits.
“We talked about building a championship culture, working to get Tennessee football back to its rightful place back among the elite of college football,” said Jones. “We talked about doing that brick by brick. That’s not a fancy slogan, we really meant that as every brick is symbolic of every individual in our football family and our football organization.”
Some feel Jones has already accomplished more than his predecessor could on the recruiting trail and is eager to translate that success to the field.
Tennessee currently sits in the top five on most sites that follow college football recruiting.
But the first-year Vols coach will have to work with the players he has for now, something Jones says should not be an issue, particularly up front.
“Obviously to have a returning offensive line that we have is very comforting,” he said. “They have a lot of expectations going into this season, rightfully so.”
Tennessee will switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense under a new defensive coordinator.
“I think the 4-3 defense fits our personnel and our football program,” said Jones. “I think obviously everyone understands the SEC is a line-of-scrimmage league. You win championships by playing great defense and stopping the run.”
Unlike previous coaching staffs, Jones has reached out to former Vols coaching legends Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors.
“The more I can speak with them, the more they can come around, the better,” he said. “But we developed great relationships with coach Majors, coach Fulmer, and they've been great. They're the ones who have really laid the foundation.”
Jones and his team face a daunting task in rebuilding Tennessee. The Volunteers face five teams ranked in the top 10 last season in their first eight games.
“It's going to be a great challenge for our football team,” said Jones. “It's also going to be a tremendous, tremendous opportunity as well”