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LaGrange Lineman Commits To Tennessee

Tennessee has received a commitment from defensive lineman Joe Sanders from Troup High School in LaGrange, Ga.

Sanders told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he picked Tennessee over offers from South Florida, Western Kentucky, Central Florida, Eastern Kentucky and South Alabama.

“I committed tonight because I had it made up in my mind that I wanted to go to Tennessee,” Sanders told the AJC on Wednesday. “I liked the atmosphere, the coaches, and how they push you once you’re down there.”

There have been questions about the future of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, who has a 15-19 record since becoming the Vols’ head coach in 2010. Sanders told the AJC he’s not concerned about Dooley’s job status.

“I’ve heard things but I haven’t really looked into it,” Sanders said. “Coach Dooley hasn’t said anything about that, so it doesn’t mean that much.”

Sanders is the 19th prospect to commit to Tennessee’s class of 2013.

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Louisiana Tech Player Takes Shot At UT’s Dooley

In Derek Dooley’s final season at Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs finished 4-8.  That record was good enough for a desperate Tennessee program that had been jilted by Lane Kiffin and turned down by about five other coaches in the immediate aftermath of Kiffin’s jump to Southern Cal.

Sonny Dykes — another coach’s son — took over the program Dooley had worked for three years to build and he’s had almost immediate success in his two-and-a-half-year tenure.  Tech is currently ranked in the Top 25 as they prepare to face Texas A&M tomorrow in Shreveport.

One Bulldog player — center Stephen Warner — says the coaching switch helped off the field as well as on.

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Ex-Vol Tailback Talks Dysfunction At UT

As we noted here yesterday, Tennessee’s football squad looks to be Team Turmoil heading into the offseason.  There were players unhappy with other players this season.  Players unhappy with coaches for throwing them under the bus and for using double-standards when it came to discipline.  There was a lack of leadership from veterans (mainly because there were very few veterans in the first place) and the youngsters who became de facto leaders had serious attitude problems.

All of that’s what’s swirling around the Tennessee program heading into a bowl-less offseason.  Good luck, Derek Dooley.

Yesterday, tailback Tauren Poole — one of the seniors who called out some younger teammates after the Vols’ loss to Kentucky on Saturday — opened up about the mess at UT on WNOX-FM in Knoxville yesterday.

Asked whether — in hindsight — he would go to UT again, Poole said:

“If you’d have told me Coach (Phillip) Fulmer would have gotten fired and then this coach, that coach, this strength coach, that position coach, I probably wouldn’t have came here because I knew it would have been a dysfunctional setup, an unstable program… It was a tough situation.  It was a roller-coaster ride.”

And what does he mean by roller-coaster ride?

“Guys kind of shut it down (against Kentucky).  All the seniors, we cared.  We cared more than a lot of those guys out there.  And that’s expected, but we weren’t getting it back.  Those guys have next year to look forward to.  We don’t.  My career is over at UT.”

And what about his coach’s critical tongue… which he uses to critique his players in the media with great regularity?

“Coach Dooley is a very critical guy.  He’s critical of his players and coaches.  It’s criticism and you’ve got to take it in.  Guys just got to have thick skin with Coach Dooley.  He’s going to speak his mind.  Every minute of the day, every moment, if he’s got an opinion, he’s going to tell you.  That’s just the type of guy he is.”

Dooley is rebuilding Tennessee’s roster and is one his way to a third-consecutive Top 15 signing class.  As for building a “team,” well, it sounds like that’s his next challenge.

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UT’s Poole Says Dooley “Is Going To Rid” Of Players Doing The Wrong Things

Derek Dooley gave All-SEC safety Janzen Jackson chance after chance after chance.  But in the end, he finally gave one of the most talented players on his team the boot. 

Tailback Tauren Poole believes his coach has sent a message to the rest of the Vol team:

“I think it was a warning that Coach Dooley is not playing.  He’s about his business, that if you’re giong to do something, you’ve got to think about this organization’s reputation.  You’re representing something big, it’s bigger than me, bigger than us, bigger than coach.  This program is goign to be here after us, and we’ve got to make sure we’re doing it the right way.  Guys that aren’t doing that, he’s going to get rid of them.”

This writer says Dooley did the right thing by jettisoning Jackson.  While making his team worse… he made his program better.

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Tennessee Lands Georgia Linebacker Henderson

Tennessee received a commitment from linebacker Khalid Henderson from Pebblebrook High School in Austell, Ga.

Henderson gave his commitment to UT coach Derek Dooley after he offered Henderson on Tuesday morning.

“Coach Dooley was a little surprised when I committed,” Henderson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was like he didn’t want to put pressure on me to commit. He asked me, ‘What other camps do you plan on attending this summer?’ I told him probably Clemson, Georgia Tech and some others. Then I said, ‘Coach, you don’t have to worry about that because you’ve got a Volunteer with me.’ He was really excited to hear that, congratulated me, and welcomed me to the Tennessee family.”

Henderson isn’t a well known prospect but has received more college interest in recent weeks. He chose UT over offers from Louisville, Connecticut, Air Force, Middle Tennessee State, and others.

Kentucky, Clemson, South Florida and Central Florida have recently shown interest in Henderson.

Henderson is the third commitment for Tennessee’s class of 2012.

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The Mark Richt Victory Watch

Content provided by Dawg Sports.

In a somewhat sloppy seesaw battle pitting contrasting offensive styles on a chilly night in Sanford Stadium, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to claim the Red and Black’s ninth win over their in-state rival in their last ten tries.

Consequently, I have the pleasure of reporting that the Mark Richt Victory Watch now stands at 96. Coach Richt trails Vince Dooley’s all-time school record by 105 career victories.

With 129 games under his belt, Coach Richt sports a 96-33 ledger and a .744 winning percentage. At the same point in their respective careers, Coach Dooley was 84-40-5 (.671) and Wally Butts was 88-34-7 (.709). Coach Butts and Coach Dooley are the only two head football coaches in Georgia history to have guided the Bulldogs in more games than Coach Richt, or to have carded more career victories than Coach Richt. Coach Richt’s office is in a building named for one in an athletic complex named for the other.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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UT Suspends Fullback Over Academics

Tennessee senior fullback Kevin Cooper won’t be available when the Vols travel to South Carolina on Saturday.  According to Derek Dooley, Cooper has been suspended for one game — at least — for academic reasons.

“Everybody’s on the same academic accountability policy,” Dooley said.  “Team hurts, team suffers.”

According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, Cooper will have to correct whatever is wrong if he wants to rejoin the team in time for next weekend’s game at Memphis.

Freshman Channing Fugate — who has mostly acted as a special teamer — will step into the starting line-up in Cooper’s stead.

Ironically, Cooper began the season by dissing former UT coach Lane Kiffin and praising his new coach.

“Coach Dooley is showing everybody how to do it the right way,” Cooper said back in August.  “He’s showing everyone that the only way to be successful is to do it the right way — as opposed to last year when it was do whatever it takes.”

Now Cooper needs to “do whatever it takes” to get this schoolwork back in order.

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