KNOXVILLE – Tennessee offensive lineman commitment Brett Kendrick knew something was amiss when he didn’t hear from former Vol coach Derek Dooley over the last few weeks.
Kendrick heard the rumors and the speculation, but then he got a text message from fellow commitment Jalen Reeves-Maybin on Sunday morning that confirmed the news that Dooley, the coach who had offered them both a scholarship, would not be back in 2013.
“When I’ve talked to the assistants like Coach (Sam) Pittman and Coach (John) Palermo you could tell that something wasn’t right,” Kendrick said. “I was just worrying a little bit, but now what’s done is done and I have to keep working to keep my scholarship over there.”
Coaching change is a tough transition for the coaches themselves along with the current players on the team. It can also put recruits that have either committed or hold a scholarship offer from a school in a predicament.
Will the school still honor their commitment with a new coach in place? Tennessee vice-chancellor and athletics director Dave Hart said that normally the answer is yes.
“That is usually the case,” Hart said of current commitments will keep their place. “The new coach will have to do that assessment. We were in on some very good players. That is pretty typical, coaches are used to that transition and even prospects are used to how that will unfold.”
But Kendrick, a Knoxville native and a standout lineman at Christian Academy of Knoxville, has been trying to check with Hart to make sure. He hasn’t been able to reach him and hasn’t received a call back yet.
“I’m going to start looking around a little bit, but as long as UT will still honor my scholarship, that’s still where I want to go,” the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder said.
Tennessee already lost four-star safety Kameron Miles to Texas A&M last week. Others such as defensive lineman Jason Carr and defensive tackle Ben Bradley are looking at their options, but none have publically de-committed since Sunday.
Kendrick said he envisions much of the class staying together.
“I think we’ll stay,” he said. “We have a good freshman class that likes each other and I think we’ll stay together.”
On Sunday, Hart discussed the role that the remaining coaches will have in helping Tennessee transition to its next staff. It’s a difficult task for a group of assistants who don’t know if they’ll be retained by the new head coach, but it’s something they’ll have to do their best on until a longer-term solution is in place.
“We talked (Sunday) about managing the recruiting and this is relatively typical in these types of transitions,” Hart said. “Those coaches are going to continue to work as you would expect. Darin Hinshaw is our recruiting coordinator; he will work with (running backs coach) Jay Graham and some others to spearhead that effort.”
The Vols currently have 18 commitments for 2013 in a class that is ranked 23rd nationally by Rivals.com and 25th nationally by 247Sports.com.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @Daniel_LewisCBS.