Tennessee is Recruiting For Championships in Blue Chip Ratio

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Team rankings are exciting, but can also be deceiving. The better benchmark is SB Nation’s blue chip ratio: if you want to be in the national championship conversation, at least half of your signees need to be four-or-five star players.

Phillip Fulmer hired Jeremy Pruitt over easier and safer choices because he wanted to be in the national championship conversation. While the Vols were making slow but noticeable progress on the field in his first year, his first full recruiting class is already on the right side of the ratio.

With the additions of Darnell Wright and Henry To’oto’o, 13 of Tennessee’s 23 signees are blue chip prospects in the 247 Composite. That’s 56.5%. And that’s the best Tennessee has done in blue chip ratio in a long, long time.

Here’s the post-Fulmer era in blue chip ratio:

YearBlue ChipSigneesRatio
201913230.565
20188220.364
20175280.179
201610230.435
201516300.533
201416320.500
20134230.174
201210220.455
20119270.333
201012270.444
20099210.429

It gets a little less reliable in tracking the further you go back, but 2019 appears to be Tennessee’s best performance in blue chip ratio since Fulmer’s 2005 class (17 of 26 in Rivals, which would certainly qualify at 65.4%).

You can see where Butch Jones was putting the pieces together to be in the conversation in 2014 and 2015, both times without much on-field success to stand on yet, to his credit. But it’s also true those 2014 and 2015 classes were unusually high on in-state and legacy prospects. This year’s class includes four-star legacy Jackson Lampley and four-star RB Eric Gray from Memphis. But the other 11 blue chip prospects are from Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and California.

Jones never turned those recruiting classes into more than 9-4 seasons, and it remains to be seen if Pruitt can come closer to the championship conversation. But this class is worth more praise than a generic, “12th in the nation/not bad for a 5-7 team.” If what we saw finalized today becomes the norm, the Vols will have one of the most important pieces to the championship puzzle.

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daetilus
daetilus
1 year ago

It was a pretty nice cap today with Wright, To’oto’o and Solomon. Hopefully Pruitt can develop everyone and get good results on the field.

HT
HT
1 year ago

I know we can’t expect much better given the current (and recent) state of our program, particularly the on-field results last year, but my excitement over Pruitt pulling in the 11th best class in the country (according to ESPN rankings) is tempered by the fact that we are also ranked 6th in the SEC and 3rd in the East. This is a good class for a 5-7 team but we have a long way to go before we are making progress in the conference, or even in our own division. Hopefully this all-star staff can coach these guys up and… Read more »

Joel Hollingsworth
Joel Hollingsworth
1 year ago
Reply to  HT

I agree with this, although I think Will is on to something here, namely that instead of comparing ourselves to others at this point, it’s good to see that we did better than our recent selves, at least when it comes to blue-chip ratio. We’re basically setting ourselves up for the answer to the question of whether and how much Pruitt can develop and manage players better than Jones.

Pete
Pete
1 year ago

You and Will are spot on: Pruitt vs. Jones in player development when the stars are the same and until we have a record on the field that allows us to realistically compare ourselves with Georgia and Bama. I’d also add “recognizing and using talent when he has it”. NFL Rookie of the Year vs back up RB at UT famously comes to mind. May the good Lord help us if Pruitt can’t do something better than Jones.

Evan
Evan
1 year ago
Reply to  HT

Some blue chip comparison context:
Bama ratio=96% (That is disgusting)
UGA ratio=83%
A&M=59%
LSU=56%
UF=68%
Aub=67%
UT= 57%

Takeaway? We need to catch up, but hey LSU #5 in the country rank is based off a slightly worse blue chip ratio than ours!

Ethan
Ethan
1 year ago
Reply to  HT

It’s also maybe worth looking at the raw numbers. On the 247 Composite Tennessee (272) ended up closer to Texas A&M (285), the third team in the league, than South Carolina (249), the 8th team in the league and ranked right behind us. With that close a range, single players can have a big influence. If Tennessee had landed George Pickens, that would have put as at 281, good for fifth in the league and sixth in the country. Now I’m sure Pickens will be a great player, but I doubt his presence on a roster would be the difference… Read more »