Tennessee’s Derek Dooley ‘begins climb’ with commitment from Georgia RB

Is Derek Dooley on the hotseat after only 2 years?

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After the historic loss to Kentucky on Saturday, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley told reporters that the Volunteers had hit rock bottom but that “we’re going to begin our climb right now.”

Dooley now will be joined on that climb by Quenshaun Watson.

The Clarke Central High School running back privately committed to Tennessee last week and went public with it on Monday. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound Watson picked the Volunteers over Indiana, and also had serious interest from Arkansas.

Is this the beginning of a Clarke Central-to-Tennessee pipeline? Dooley grew up in Athens while his father Vince Dooley coached at UGA. The younger Dooley is a graduate of Clarke Central High School, which also sent a player last year to the Volunteers, offensive lineman Alan Posey.

Curiously, neither Watson nor Posey was recruited by UGA, which is located only a couple of miles from Clarke Central. The Bulldogs never showed much interest.

“Tennessee recruited Quenshaun the hardest,” Clarke Central coach Leroy Ryals told the AJC. “We’ve got another player there with Alan, and Quenshaun felt like he was around family by playing at Tennessee. They want him to play running back there.

“He has a lot of speed, and a great ability to maneuver in the open field. He has played for me since a freshman so he has a lot of experience playing for a good program. One thing impressive about Quenshaun is that he has learned over the years to be a very good running back.”

Derek Dooley with his signature "orange pants" (AP photo)

Derek Dooley with his signature "orange pants" (AP photo)

Watson is small but fast. He rushed for 1,765 yards as a senior, and is a track star. Watson told Rivals that he has been clocked at 10.58 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

Dooley is focusing hard on his recruiting efforts in Georgia. Six of Tennessee’s 2012 commitments are from Georgia, including Pebblebrook LB Khalid Henderson.

Under Dooley, Tennessee posted its first back-to-back losing seasons since 1910-11. Tennessee lost seven SEC games in a season for the first time ever.

“At some point, we had to hit a real low point with where this program is,” Dooley told the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s Austin Ward. “And I knew we were going to hit one, I did. I hoped we wouldn’t, but it’s inevitable. You’re going to hit a bottom … It’s on the whole organization, and we’re going to begin our climb right now.”

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

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151 comments Add your comment


November 28th, 2011
11:02 pm

I’ve never really liked Tenn., but the SEC was a whole lot more fun when they were good. I hope Dooley can bring them back, for the good of the SEC East. I bet a lot of folks would take Fulmer/Chavis back in a heart beat.


November 28th, 2011
11:03 pm

The guy had a marquee offer from Indiana and “interest” from Arkansas… watch out!


November 28th, 2011
11:12 pm

If he is in trouble for anything it should be those horrible orange pants–not even the right shade for TN colors.


November 28th, 2011
11:14 pm

Third!! Still means nothing…


November 28th, 2011
11:22 pm

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Derek. You do know you are coaching in the SEC right? Ask UGA and Florida and a few other schools, how those small backs last in the SEC. Florida had a couple of the fastest RB’s this year, and they spent half their time on the training table. UGA has a couple and while there is no denying at least one’s heart and team dedication, they don’t exactly burn it up with the ball in their hands. The SEC is big boy football. Short, light weighted RB’s don’t quite get it. All the offensive line in the world can’t help if a LB, can grab the RB with one arm and slam him down.
It would seem to me, that if you are trying to rebuild a program, you might want to look for players, more ideally suited to play in the big leagues. Will he inspire a defense opposing your team, to pull back on the rush, or blitz less, when he is in the game?


November 28th, 2011
11:23 pm

Hate to say it, but Tennessee will never get better by recruiting 4th and 5th tear players. He is from Athens and UGA never even looked at him. Makes you wonder if your a Vol fan.


November 28th, 2011
11:25 pm

With 1 to 2 offers, he looks like a 5* runningback to CDD and TN!!

Dawg PI

November 28th, 2011
11:30 pm

Why doesn’t Derek Dooley bring Vince out of retirement as his defensive coordinator? You know, like Lane Kiffin and his pops? Daddy could save Derek!


November 28th, 2011
11:33 pm

I am a Clarke Central Grad and got to watch them a lot. This kid is solid. Very fast. I didn’t believe that posey was that good. But I think this guy will be a factor. He could be a solid return man and i believe that if he was a tid bit bigger he would have been a bigger recruit. Good pick up for the VOLS. GO GLADITORS!!!

Kirby Smart is a puppet

November 28th, 2011
11:34 pm

Derek Dooley is the same reason why I don’t want Kirby Smart at Georgia. Just because you’re the son of a coaching icon, and or have the title of “defensive coordinator” when Nick Saban is really doing everything… doesn’t mean you can coach. Kirby Smart is the highest paid cheerleader in college football. I went to high school with him. He’s not the brightest guy. Reminds me a lot of Mike Bobo.


November 28th, 2011
11:34 pm

Why would it be “curious” that UGA has not recruited him? We have our quota of undersized running backs already met.


November 28th, 2011
11:36 pm

Personally, I am tired of small backs.


November 28th, 2011
11:38 pm

I’m sure Tennessee fans will blame everything on Lane Kiffin like they always do. Excuses, excuses, excuses …


November 28th, 2011
11:42 pm

tennessee already has its big back for this class in imani cross. he’ll be primarily a return man like devrin young.


November 29th, 2011
12:05 am

I don’t care what anyone else thinks. This has absolutely been a great year. Florida and Tennessee absolutely stunk up the place. Spurrier did not win the SEC east and Alabama didn’t win the SEC west. That cheating Albarn was put back in their place. Life is good. Oh yea, almost forgot. Stick it where the sun don’t shine Tech. Am I mistaken in thinking that neither Florida or Tennessee are bowl eligable? If so. Ain’t that a hoot. Now all of you teams that I just mentioned, shut your overbearing, foul smelling mouths and craw back under your rocks. Life is truley great.


November 29th, 2011
12:18 am

Coach Dooley inherited a whole of junk from the previous coach. I dont believe anyone could fix it over night.

Texas Dawg

November 29th, 2011
12:51 am

I do believe UF is bowl eligible – barely.

He's Not Vince

November 29th, 2011
12:52 am

He’s not Vince. Gonna be a while until Tennessee is relevant again.


November 29th, 2011
1:36 am

After a horrible senior camp my son attended last summer. Three Tenn coaches were A$$es..I put a VooDoo Spell on the football program. They will sux for a few more yrs while my son has a chance to win a National Championship this year. .


November 29th, 2011
1:39 am

Hey ‘Kirby Smart is a puppet’ … He might be a puppet but @ 750k a yr. At the price, I’ll b e a puppet too…


November 29th, 2011
2:05 am

Tennessee should have never gotten rid of Fulmer , who was a great recruiter and loved the Vols. It will always be hard for Tennessee to have enough depth because the talent pool is so few in Tennessee and they get left over’s from the other states.


November 29th, 2011
2:34 am

@Tdawg We may tie UGA’s record from last season 6-7! lol


November 29th, 2011
3:08 am

By a couple miles from UGA you mean a couple hundred yards??


November 29th, 2011
4:33 am

Really??? Another small back with no offers from any other SEC school and the ONLY other offer coming from powerhouse Indiana? Oh, but freaking Arkansas (a pass happy school) looked at him…REAL hard! Does Dooley even try to recruit kids that Bama, UGA, and LSU are recruiting? The ONLY thing the man was supposed to be able to do well was recruit…and he isn’t beating out the best of the SEC…and so, we’ll stay mediocre until he’s gone. Because if Dooley can’t do one thing…he sure can’t coach up mediocre players into talented ones.


November 29th, 2011
5:27 am

Guys , this kid is 181 now after a redshirt year in the weight room he could be in the 195 or bigger area. UGA has 2 smaller than him right now. Good pick up UT.


November 29th, 2011
5:52 am

The Vols fighting hard to take a player from Indiana.. Good luck on that climb.


November 29th, 2011
6:14 am

Wow, that hurts…I guess we’ll have to settle for the # 1 ranked RB in country when he commits on Dec. 6th

Destin Dawg.

November 29th, 2011
6:39 am

Go Dawgs.. beat LSU !!! things are looking good for us in SEC East.. Derke Dooley is in coaching because he couldn’t make as a lawyer.. Fla. is stuck with Muschamp and Weis ( who was fired from N.D. ).. Spurrier to retire ? Malzahn leaving Awlbarn.. Go Dawgs !!

Destin Dawg.

November 29th, 2011
6:44 am

yes sir.. we’re lucky we have Grantham.. not Kirby Smart

The New Dawg Consultant

November 29th, 2011
6:57 am

I actually think Derek Dooley has done a pretty decent job since arriving at TN. Don’t forget folks, there has been at least one lineman in the past year that TN has grabbed that we (UGA) really wanted, so he is not loosing all the recruiting battles. This kid is a good change of pace back with excellent speed. Only they know what they need for their program.

Whether you call it excuses or not; Dooley has had to completely remake the culture of TN football after Kiffin departure (along with over 9 scholarship players from the two deep). Folks it takes more than two seasons to fix that.

Personally, I hope TN comes back to its former stature. Just as long as we keep winning the SEC East.

Go Bulldawgs!


November 29th, 2011
7:03 am

Grant Park Gator–only difference is we beat you. YOU GAYTURD>>>>go Dogs!


November 29th, 2011
7:09 am

Tenn. fans……….You still have one more year to blame Kiffin for the state of your program. Don’t pick at Dooley until after he has had a chance to show you what he can do when the playing field is level.


November 29th, 2011
7:22 am

Had some UT season ticket holders go with us to the GA – Tech game on Saturday. I do remember among the vulgarities “just wish we had Fulmer back.” in the post game comments. If our friends are indicative of most Vols, I think they still like Dooley, but he better improve fast. His comments where he said “we’re just not a very good football team” didn’t sit well with them since after all that is his job.

Go Dawgs!


November 29th, 2011
7:24 am

Hey “Kirby Smart is a puppet”… don’t know why you are slamming Kirby. I too went to high school with him, played on the baseball team with him, and would have to say he was one of the brightest athletes I knew at two different HS’s I attended. I may be mistaken, but wasn’t he one of the top 10 in his graduating class? I’m not saying that is much in a public HS, but above the rest of the crowd. I’ve always thought he was successful precisely because of his intellect. Heck I didn’t think he was that great of a player athletically, but had the smarts to be in position.

Opinions have to be taken with a grain of salt, so in closing, were you top 10 or just part of the rest of the crowd?


November 29th, 2011
7:25 am

You classless dawg fans are so smug after you win a few games against schools with less talent and some having down years. Let’s see how you respond to a real team with more talent than you. I can’t wait for the excuses after LSU destroys you even though the game is in Atlanta. Oh, I almost forget, what about Boise State and S Carolina whipping your butts? Bark, bark!


November 29th, 2011
7:36 am

Hey Dawg 2 you must have watched a different Florida game. Your Dawgs just barely beat Florida. I guess you’re just so happy to finally win won from the Gators. I wouldn’t get too puffed up because your Dawgs have to play Florida again next year.

Vampire Bill

November 29th, 2011
7:37 am

Jabo, Jabooooo Stop blabbering and find your apron. Time to go to work.


November 29th, 2011
7:46 am

It makes the top of their recruiting news when Dooley lands an UNRANKED 5-9, 175 lb. RB from his home high school?

Not piling on, just saying it’s unfortunate to see how far UT has fallen. UT simply isn’t a threat or even a contender these days, on the field or on the recruiting trail.

Even when they land a prize recruit (from Kiffin’s era), he doesn’t seem to do much. This season Da’Rick Rogers, averaged 3.5 catches, 50 yards, and NO touchdowns against 4 of the top 10 defenses this year (SC, Georgia, Alabama, and LSU.)

Plain and simple, if UT could have afforded it, Dooley would have been fired last Sunday. His buyout is simply too large. He will get the obligatory 3 years, and finances won’t dictate that UT keep him after next year.

It will be at least 3 years before UT is back in the mix for the SEC East.


November 29th, 2011
7:47 am

I am no TN fan, but Derek Dooley has a lot of work still ahead of him after the damage done by arrogant Lane Kiffin. Give him a break. He will need a couple more years. The people that voted that he was on the hotseat are probably the ones who had now sainted Mark Richt there earlier after two losses.


November 29th, 2011
7:48 am

I wonder how Juwann James and all those elite Ga. HS players feel after turning their back on CMR & UGA, I wonder how they feel now that they have spent HALF of their College eligibility on LOSING UT Teams when they could have been at uga and on their way to the SEC-CG, and on a serious upswing with Murray at QB for more years.

The only prayer that Tenn has is to recruit very well in Ga., Ohio and Florida. when Tressel got it going at O$U, and Urban Meyer got it going at UF, is the same time frame that Tenn. began to wane ,with CMR on an upswing at UGA, and Urban Meyer at OSU, Tenn might not recover for 5 to -7 years, they might win 7 or 8 games here or there, but they won’t be a factor for a long time.

They never should have fired Phil, they should have tried to ride it out.

Tenn.’s main problem is that Tenn. HS FB is pure crap and might be the weakest among the SEC-states.


November 29th, 2011
7:49 am

Congrats to the young man for getting a scholarship offer to attend a major university. You butt heads are just jealous because you and your kids did not.


November 29th, 2011
8:12 am

I imagine Juwann’s feeling pretty damn sporty WnE. Going to school on a D1 athletic scholarship that you couldn’t even sniff. And going to a much better school than your Troy (where you supposedly went, I have my doubts).

Your really a frickin dork (insert a better expletive that won’t get banned), and the main reason people hate UGA fans. Notice I didn’t say UGA, just “fans” like you, never went there but want to act like you did. You’re a wannabe, and that’s all you’ll ever be. Must be hell to live with that everyday.


November 29th, 2011
8:23 am

Vince, you need to tell Derek he’s not at Louisiana Tech anymore. This would be a prize recruit at LouTech, but not at Tennessee. This is one where you forward his film to your friends in DII and thank him for his time.


November 29th, 2011
8:23 am

“We have our quota of undersized running backs already met.”


Old Dawg.

November 29th, 2011
8:29 am

Reason why UGA will get is a multi year hot streak… mark richt & todd grantham’s coaching… and Fla. Tenn. S.C. Auburn’s lack of coaching ?

dboy jones

November 29th, 2011
8:30 am

How many times I have to tell you guys that stars dont mean nothin when it comes to recruiting. Where a kid ranks doesnt always give you a tall tell sign of how that kid is going to play in college. I am a UGA fan and former player. This kid could come in to Tenn and work his butt off in the weight room and conditioning program to get hisself ready. I’m sure Tenn isnt asking the kid to come in a be their I.Crowell so he will have time. Obviously he has some type of ability. Good luck to the kid except when they play the Dawgs! NOW LETS GO KICK LSU’s arse!! GO DAWGS


November 29th, 2011
8:38 am

The struggles of UT are not on Dooley. The program was already struggling under Fulmer. The Kiffin embarrasment set them back a couple of more years. Dooley walked into a mess but he is the right guy to clean it up.

The Vols have a class act and heck of a coach. They will be back where they should be soon.


November 29th, 2011
8:40 am

You’re right Mr. Jones, there are diamonds in the rough to be found. But, admittedly, this program is at “rock bottom”. Can you afford to take chances? Or is that your plan for turning it around?
Tennessee needs to do what it used to do, and that is recruit nationally, sign the 7 or 8 best in Tenn. and focus on 5 or 6 high value targets in North Georgia.

Yea Right

November 29th, 2011
8:49 am

For all you rednecks diss’n on Tenn. They have won a National Championship since UGA did 100 years ago or so. As well as SEVERAL other SEC schools!!!


November 29th, 2011
8:58 am

GO COACH RICHT! Love the updates! http://www.wedgeorgia.com