Top safeties talk Tennessee's troubles

Prospects can't help but hear the talk in Tennessee. When they hear Jon Gruden's name, they take notice.

"That would be great," safety Jalen Tabor from Washington (D.C.) Friendship said when asked of the possibility that Gruden could be hired to replace third-year coach Derek Dooley. "It would be a bonus."

Tabor, a 2014 Watch List prospect, has said Tennessee is firmly in his top five, along with Alabama, Maryland, Ohio State and Florida.

Gruden's name continues to be a topic of conversation as the Volunteers struggle. Tennessee is 3-5 and 0-5 in the SEC. Dooley has received much of the scrutiny and criticism.

When asked how much a Gruden hiring might help recruiting, Tabor said "A lot."

Fellow ESPN Watch List defensive back Todd Kelly Jr. from Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb has heard much of the talk about a potential coaching change at Tennessee. He's also heard Gruden's name mentioned.

"Word is that he is the man to hire but that would be the fourth coach at UT I think in the last five years," Kelly Jr. said.

Tennessee fired Phillip Fulmer as head coach in 2008. He was replaced by Lane Kiffin, who left for USC following one season. Dooley was hired in January 2010.

When asked specifically about Gruden, Kelly Jr. said, "I really don't know how much about what he would bring to the university. If it did happen, though, then I think people would be fired up about the program again like any school would be with the hiring of a new coach."

Until then, uncertainty reigns with Tennessee football recruiting.