Local commitments talk Tennessee hire

Local prospects surely hear more about a coaching change than those in other areas. With their futures hanging in the balance, those within earshot of sports talk radio or have the ability to log onto the internet hear every twist and turn in a coaching search.

Such was the case with receiver Joshua Smith and offensive lineman Brett Kendrick from Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic. Both Tennessee commitments couldn't help but keep track of the Volunteers' search for their next coach.

The suspense ended on Friday when Tennessee announced it had hired Butch Jones from Cincinnati to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired last month. When asked if he was glad the search was over, Kendrick said, "Very, it makes me feel a lot better."

Said Smith: "I'm excited about it. Can't wait to meet him and play for him. Let's turn this around."

Neither commitment claimed to know a lot about Jones. Nevertheless, optimism reigned. Kendrick had a special request dealing with offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

"I think he is going to do a great job, and if he keeps coach Pittman, I will really like him," he said.

Kendrick and Smith committed to Tennessee in June.