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Rankings alone don’t determine Tennessee coach Josh Heupel’s success

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The knock on Tennessee coach Josh Heupel was that he couldn’t recruit with the big boys of the SEC. Well, he’s proving that wrong, albeit gradually.

The Vols have shown massive improvement in recruiting since Heupel took over before the 2021 season. The Vols were ranked No. 22 in that class that was cobbled together as quickly as possible due to mass administrative turnover. As for Heupel’s latest class, it was ranked 13th in the country. The 2022 class was ranked 23rd in the nation. The 2023 class jumped up to No. 11.

There was a time in which I would have claimed that a team simply can’t win an SEC Championship, let alone, a national title without being consistently ranked in the Top 10 in recruiting. That is becoming antiquated reasoning since programs have to spend NIL money to keep current players. In other words, college football rankings should be more fluid. Instead of Alabama and Georgia or another dominant school resting at the top of the rankings each year, schools could find focusing on their current team may be more important. That could mean the rankings are more volatile than static, as they’ve been in the past with the top teams always nabbing the best haul. 

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Why is Heupel trending up in recruiting even though he hasn’t cracked the Top 10 in recruiting and his latest class is rated sixth best in the SEC. A deeper dive into what Heupel has done in recruiting has only proven that the former Central Florida head coach can keep up with the best of them.

Here’s why Heupel’s overall recruiting ranking isn’t the final say on whether or not he’s having success in recruiting.

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