College football recruiting is built on relationships.

The relationship between a recruit and the coaching staff is typically the deciding factor in recruiting battles.

But there also other factors that are involved — such as the fan base.

Fans matter more than most folks probably realize. When a kid dreams of playing college football, they probably aren’t envisioning playing in front of half empty stadiums. They’re picturing themselves in front of a raucous stadium filled to its capacity.

Great crowds typically follow great football. Tennessee Vols football hasn’t been great lately. But the fans still show up. And recruits notice.

Tennessee Vols

2021 three-star in-state wide receiver Walker Merrill recently discussed his recruitment with VolQuest and the UT fan base was a big part of the discussion.

Merrill told VolQuest that he’s noticed how Neyland has been mostly full so far this season, despite Tennessee’s poor start to the season.

The Brentwood, TN native noted that the stands are “always packed” at UT, while adding “Something must be going right over there for the excitement to still be where it is. Tennessee fans are probably the biggest fan of a school I’ve ever seen.”

That’s a pretty big statement coming from a junior in high school who was a toddler the last time the Vols were relevant.

I think it’s obvious that everyone associated with Tennessee football is doing everything they can to turn the Vols into a powerhouse program again.

And I think recruits realize that. They also realize that if Tennessee fans are this passionate about a program that’s been down on its luck for over a decade, then they’ll be absolutely insane if/when the Vols return to relevancy.

Coaches are ultimately responsible for landing elite recruits, but fans certainly have a big impact on the final decision.

Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports
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