New Tennessee Vols head coach Josh Heupel is a mastermind when it comes to offense.
Heupel’s offenses at Missouri and UCF were consistently among the best in the nation.
That’s good news for Tennessee because the offense has been seriously lacking in recent years.
But while Heupel should be able to turn the Vols into a much better offensive team, there are still plenty of questions he has to answer as a head coach.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Heupel is whether or not he can recruit in the SEC.
Those questions are understandable. Heupel wasn’t a stud recruiter at UCF.
Here’s how his classes ranked during his three years as the Knights’ head coach.
Rankings via 247Sports composite
- 2018 — No. 62
- 2019 — No. 60
- 2020 — No. 75
That’s obviously not very good. But before we get too worked up about those rankings, we should see how it compares to other coaches that have been in similar situations.
First up, Scott Frost, who was Heupel’s predecessor at UCF. Frost led the Knights to a 13-0 record in 2017 (and a national championship, according to new UT athletic director Danny White). Frost was the head coach at UCF for two years before landing at Nebraska.
- 2016 — No. 65
- 2017 — No. 55
Frost recruited about the same at UCF as Heupel.
Now, how about we compare Heupel to Lane Kiffin’s time at FAU (which is in the Conference-USA). That’s a similar situation to UCF. And Kiffin is known as one of the best recruiters in the nation.
- 2017 — No. 60
- 2018 — No. 75
- 2019 — No. 61
Not very impressive, right?
(Kiffin, by the way, had the No. 34 ranked class in the nation in 2020 at Ole Miss.)
Now, let’s take a look at Butch Jones’ classes at Cincinnati, where he coached for three seasons before landing at Tennessee in 2013.
- 2010 — No. 56
- 2011 — No. 47
- 2012 — No. 51
Cincinnati was in the Big East when Jones was the head coach, which is easier to recruit to than Conference-USA or the AAC.
During Jones’ time at UT, he secured two top 10 classes. All five of his recruiting classes finished in the top 25. Nothing from Jones’ time at Cincinnati would’ve led anyone to believe that he was capable of landing multiple top 10 classes at Tennessee.
Heupel is on par with other coaches that have been in similar situations. And I think we’ll see him land top 20-25 classes at Tennessee with ease. Maybe he even lands some top 10-15 classes if things start going well.
Tennessee recruits itself. The tradition, the facilities, the fans. It’s an easy sell.
Heupel may not end up winning recruiting battles against Alabama for stud five-star recruits, but he should be able to get quality talent to Knoxville.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. Josh Heupel, who has been involved in the college game as a player or a coach for over 20 years, understands that as well as anyone.
That’s why I don’t think Heupel’s recruiting abilities are an issue that fans should be spending time worrying about.
Featured image via Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports/Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports