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Social media attacks can only hurt Tennessee Vols in key recruitments

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I know what you’re thinking. Well, you’re wrong. Sorry to have to inform you as much as you begin the weekend.

You, off-kilter Tennessee fan, think it’s okay to rip players, prospects and whoever else might be getting an NIL dime just because they’re getting paid, right? It’s even more fun to rip a transfer who leaves our school. After all, he signed a contract, right? Well, those contracts are pretty weak on both sides and a coach will jettison a player whenever it might be deemed better for the program. They don’t have to be fair about it, so why should the player? Still, fans love to rip those that seemingly turn their back on a program.

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Well, don’t. It just isn’t pragmatic. I’ll give you two examples. First, former linebacker Daryl Vereen was never a spectacular player during a time in which the Vols were lost in the wilderness, from 2007 to 2011. Still, Vereen never got in trouble and fans never set their sights on him despite the Vols’ struggles as a team. Now, he can help the Vols out.

Vereen was recently named head coach of North Mecklenburg High School, which produces plenty of college football talent and is a stalwart school in the Charlotte area. Vereen, who is from the area, was a reminder of how dominant Tennessee can be in the Carolinas, which may be absolutely necessary for the Vols to ever achieve a championship.

Looking for someone to root against? Currently, colleges in the Carolinas will have more of an impact on Tennessee’s future than Georgia, which Tennessee has already proved it can go toe-to-toe with in recruiting. Still, Georgia won’t lose too many prospects so a recruiting footprint in the Carolinas is a must. 

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Tennessee fans also need to be mindful that a transfer can transfer back, so there’s no point in using social media as a bazooka to take out transfer frustrations. Look at offensive line Kadyn Proctor. He is expected to transfer back to Alabama after a short stay in Iowa, where he transferred from Tuscaloosa in January. Are you telling me you would’t like to have had linebacker Henry To’oto’o back from Bama despite him leaving for the Crimson Tide? Don’t let pride cloud your judgement.

Criticising prospects has long been a pet peeve of mine since we’re largely talking about teenagers. Now, transfer players are older and getting paid. Rip them if you like. I just don’t see how it’s very pragmatic. That’s been the case in basketball with shooting guard Chaz Lanier, who is thought to be down to the Vols and Kentucky and is transferring from North Florida.

Tennessee long thought they had Lanier – and they perhaps still do – but now would be a good time to keep the social media pokes and prods to a minimum. For the vast majority of fans, they’ve been supportive during Lanier’s indecision.

Perhaps it’s because I have a teenage son, but I understand the generation more than I’d ever hoped to. The current generation of teenagers want to be told why, not just what to do. So if you want to help the Vols in recruiting, here are a couple of narratives.

How about pointing out how much Knecht improved last season for Lanier? Ripping Kentucky now isn’t going to do much good. They’re going to be a hot commodity in recruiting under Pope as long as there is a feel-good commonwealth. However, Vols’ coach Rick Barnes has proven he can produce NBA talent. That should be a top talking point with Lanier.

“Feel good” is sort of how recruiting is nowadays. Coaches have less power. Players have more. The days of demanding a commitment are over. It’s time to explain what is right about Tennessee, not what is wrong about a young person’s other potential suitors.

Lanier may soon make his announcement. House is set to announce his decision on June 22. When those things happen, don’t overreact and fire up those social media accounts. Until those papers are signed, Tennessee’s coaches and administrators aren’t going to quit recruiting either prospect and, in a contrived sort of way, Tennessee fans should follow suit.

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