Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky in November has been a common topic of conversation in Knoxville this offseason.
It was Tennessee’s first loss to Kentucky since 1984. Tennessee fans were understandably unhappy.
And prospects on the recruiting trail noticed. Questions about coach Derek Dooley’s job security filled up the “hot seat” columns during the offseason.
That’s why defensive end Jason Hatcher, who committed to Southern California last week, expressed concern about the loss to Kentucky with Tennessee’s coaches during the recruiting process.
“I told them, ‘You lost to the University of Kentucky. You lose to UK, you lose to everybody because UK finishes last in the SEC every year,” Hatcher told ESPN RecruitingNation.
Hatcher, who attends Louisville (Ky.) Trinity High School, committed to USC last week over Louisville. Tennessee had been in great shape with Hatcher before it lost to Kentucky, he said.
It’s a reminder that Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky and the Vols’ two losing seasons during Dooley’s first two years in Knoxville have negatively affected the Vols’ recruiting. A successful 2012 season for Tennessee is a must if the Vols plan to catch up in recruiting with the 2013 class.
Hatcher’s comments also shed light on the perception of Kentucky football versus Louisville among in-state prospects.
Hatcher, ESPNU’s No. 4 player in the state of Kentucky for the 2013 class, views Kentucky as a “bottom of the barrel” program. Meanwhile, Louisville continues to make a favorable impression on prospects in the state of Kentucky.
“I don’t think Louisville needs to do anything (better in recruiting nearby prospects),” Hatcher told ESPN. “They’re doing good. I’ve just known my whole life that I didn’t want to stay home, that I wanted to explore.”