Safety Vonn Bell was the latest highly-touted prospect from the state of Tennessee to turn down the Tennessee Volunteers on Wednesday.
Despite the efforts of coach Butch Jones, Tennessee signed only three of the state's top 10 players according to Rivals and none of the top five.
Bell, who attends Ridgeland High School in Rossville, Ga., but lives in Chattannoga, signed with Ohio State after considering offers from Tennessee and Alabama. Frustrations grew for Tennessee fans when they learned of comments from Bell's father.
Vonn Bells dad told me "this is bc of Dooley. If UT had recruited Vonn from day 1 he'd be going there. Coach Jones had 2 much ground 2 covr"— Stephen Hargis (@StephenHargis) February 6, 2013
Then came comments on Sports 180 from Jonathan Hutton from The Zone in Nashville on Thursday. Hutton, who was set to attend Tennessee's recruiting celebration in Nashville, discussed Derek Dooley's lack of recruiting efforts in the mid-state area.
"It is amazing the amount of high school coaches in this area that said they never met Derek Dooley but have already met Butch Jones."
One of those coaches is Kevin Dyson, the former NFL wide receiver who served as the head coach at Independence High School in Nashville until December. Independence has two SEC-level football players: athlete Vic Wharton, who committed to Tennessee in December, and safety Rashaan Gaulden, who has an offer from the Vols.
"Kevin Dyson never met Derek Dooley," Hutton said. "... And Dyson had more than just Vic Wharton on his team that's now going onto Division I football and Dyson never met Derek Dooley. That speaks volumes to me."
It also speaks volumes to the situation Jones inherited when he became Tennessee's coach on Dec. 7. There were feelings throughout Tennessee that Dooley didn't make enough effort to build relationships with coaches and players inside the state.
This isn't to pile on to Dooley or further highlight the struggles of Tennessee's program in recent years. Instead, it shows the challenges the Vols have had to overcome in recruiting and the importance of Jones and his staff to rebuild some of those relationships in the future.
The 2014 class is filled with talent inside the state of Tennessee. Increased attention in those areas from Tennessee's new staff could help the Vols avoid more disappointments like the one they experienced on Wednesday.