Six verbal commitments in seven days.

In what will be remembered as one of the most plentiful recruiting hauls in a one-week period in recent history, Butch Jones nabbed six commitments towards the 2014 recruiting class last week.

In what was dubbed "Foundation Week" by the coaching staff's social media postings, Jones and company not only laid the foundation but seemingly managed to build the house, insulate it, install a Jacuzzi and sweep the floors – all in the span of a week.

And the commitments received were of the highest quality. Eric Lauderdale is the consensus No. 1 junior college receiver in the next year's class, Cortez McDowell is a 4-star safety and one of the top secondary recruits in the Southeast and Dominique Booth became another 4-star the Volunteers can add to an already talent-rich, youth-filled position.

The rankings? Still intact, as Tennessee holds the No. 1 spot in Rivals' and Scout's team recruiting rankings for next year and sits at No. 4 in 247's ranking. And Jones' 24 verbal commitments place Tennessee with the most of any team thus far in the entire nation.

But excitement around the Tennessee Volunteers football program is being produced on more than just the recruiting grounds.

On Monday, VolQuest.com sent out a report that confirmed a few minor alterations to the current jersey layout. Additions will include an outline of the state of Tennessee above the player's names on the back of the home and away jerseys and a light checkerboard outline on the away jersey's number, the report said.
And just like that, the hype continues to grow.

But that's the problem, tempered expectations seemingly cease to exist with a fan base hungry for success. And it could be a tumultuous fall back to reality for many fans when the Volunteers take on the Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium on Sept. 14.

While most Vol supporters are educated enough to realize that growing pains will be present during Jones' inaugural season, the wave of hype that has been built over the recruitment period is leading many fans to build exceedingly lofty expectations for the inaugural 2013 and even the sophomoric 2014 season, already being pegged as UT's "breakout" year.

Not to burst any bubbles, but the reality is that supplementing 80 percent of the last season's offensive production in 2013 and replacing nine starters on each side of the offensive and defensive lines in 2014 will not be an easy task. Even talent-laden Alabama couldn't be asked to produce results after undergoing that type of overhaul.

So why are lofty expectations already being built, again?

It's simple, the beautiful thing about sports is being able to watch something grow.

For comparison sake, take the revitalization of the Stanford football and you'll see excitement bursting at the seams of a perennial football power.

What was known as a "smart kid" school with little football backing, (boosters even considered pulling the plug on the program completely before it's revival) Stanford was the epitome of a doormat program in college football.

The moment in 2007 when Tavita Pritchard tossed a 10-yard fade pattern to Mark Bradford and the Cardinal upset No. 1 ranked USC was only one piece of the puzzle in the story of Stanford. And now? Stanford ranks within the top 10 teams in the nation this preseason and has created something that Tennessee is beginning to see early signs of: momentum.

Tennessee fans shouldn't press fast-for- ward on the VCR and wish away the next two football seasons. It's normal to look forward to a 2015 season that may offer the Volunteer program a chance to be synonymous with the phrase "national viability" once again — something that hasn't been the case for this program in over five years. While success is desired, overlooking the process that got them there would be selfish.

Instead, enjoy the rebuilding process. If step one is indicative of anything, "Foundation Week" is just the beginning of the new found momentum movement in Knoxville.

 

Gage Arnold is a rising senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at garnold@utk.edu.