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'The biggest change in recruiting'

Tennessee finished with the No. 7 class in 247 Sports’ composite team rankings, and Butch Jones said it’s the closest together any of his classes have been. That’s despite having players from 12 different states, plus Washington D.C.

Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni said social media is, in some cases, the No. 1 form of communication between coaches and recruits. The same goes for communication between recruits.

Jones joined Sports Animal 99 on Monday and explained that recruits form stronger relationships than ever before because of social media and the abundance of camps.

“So many of these relationships in a recruiting class are built at an early age with all the different camps throughout the country,” Jones said. “They really start to build relationships. I think that’s the biggest different in recruiting. No matter what part of the country you’re from, you develop these relationships with these individuals because of the amount of camps they go to and Facebook and Twitter and all the social media things these individuals can do to build relationships.

“When it comes time to pick a university or school, they want to play with each other. The byproduct is they start recruiting each other.”

Specifically, safety Todd Kelly and athlete Vic Wharton helped recruit much of the class. Jones said he’d never seen players recruit other players harder than they did.

“Not like this,” Jones said. “We always use the term relentless in our football program. They were absolutely relentless. This is the most close-knit recruiting class I’ve ever been a part of. Not many individuals decommitted. They stayed true to their word. They were loyal to each other. And not many of them even took visits to other institutions. I think that speaks volumes to their character and love and want to be at the University of Tennessee.”

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