The Tennessee Vols received some good news and some bad news on Monday.

Tennessee missed on 2023 five-star offensive tackle Francis Mauigoa, who committed to Miami over UT. An hour later, though, the Vols landed a commitment from 2024 five-star athlete Jonathan Echols.

Missing on Mauigoa was particularly painful for Tennessee. He’s a player that seemed to be trending toward Tennessee over the last few weeks, thanks in part to his strong relationship with five-star Vols commit Nico Iamaleava.

Unfortunately for Tennessee, Mauigoa had a better connection with the Hurricanes.

There was plenty of frustration from Vols fans on social media after Tennessee missed on Mauigoa. And I certainly understand why — these are the types of battles the Vols need to consistently start winning.

But there’s zero reason for fans to be concerned about UT head coach Josh Heupel and his staff after the recruiting miss.

Tennessee did a fantastic job of building a relationship with Mauigoa. There was nothing else they could’ve done from that standpoint. Mauigoa simply felt more comfortable with Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal, a former offensive line coach who was hired by Miami this past December.

The Vols and the Hurricanes are in similar places as programs right now. Both are in the midst of rebuilds (they’ve both been perpetually rebuilding for nearly two decades). And both have landed some key recruits and missed on some key recruits. Miami currently has the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation while Tennessee has the No. 10 recruiting class in the nation. They’re essentially mirroring each other at this point.

This is a battle that just happened to go Miami’s way. Maybe Mauigoa likes the beach more than the mountains. Or maybe he just has a unique connection with Cristobal. Whatever the case, Mauigoa’s relationship with the Hurricanes was out of Tennessee’s control.

There’s also the NIL angle to consider. We know that Miami hasn’t been shy (allegedly) about throwing around money to recruits. The Vols, on the other hand, have their hands tied a bit right now due to the NCAA’s “crackdown” on collectives. Tennessee is still waiting on a notice of allegations from the NCAA in response to the recruiting investigation that went down last year as a result of Jeremy Pruitt’s shady recruiting practices.

While there are plenty who scoff at the NCAA — including myself — it’s understandable why the Vols don’t want to risk angering the NCAA before they’ve been punished for what occurred under Pruitt.

Vols athletic director Danny White alluded to being careful with NIL deals and recruits earlier this offseason in an interview with VolQuest.

“There’s still an NCAA rule that specifically says we cannot be involved in any kind of NIL or any kind of inducement activity in recruiting,” said White. “So, there’s a line between recruiting and current student-athletes that we have been very strict about with our coaches and staff—and we will continue to be. I like where we are in that space.”

There’s also the whole philosophy of paying recruits and how smart it really is that needs to be considered.

Programs are going to get burnt with NIL deals. It’s inevitable. Every class has five-star and four-star recruits who don’t pan out. There are going to be deals that don’t work out for programs. On the flip side, there will be hidden gems who receive barely any NIL money that end up being stars. Those are the players that programs will have to pay to keep them from hitting the transfer portal. It seems like for now, that’s where the Vols are placing their focus.

Tennessee can also take advantage of the transfer portal in that same way. Commitments mean very little these days. Who’s to say that Mauigoa doesn’t hit the transfer portal after just one season at Miami? Maybe he ends up at UT in a year or two. It’s certainly possible in this new college football landscape.

Rosters aren’t built the same way in 2022 that they were just a few years ago. The whole script has been flipped.

The Vols are adapting to this new world. They’ll be just fine with Heupel running the show.

If Tennessee finishes with a top 10 class every year — and they’re on pace to finish with one in 2023 — then they’ll have plenty of talent on their roster. And if they pick up some elite talent from the transfer portal — which they should as long as they keep improving and breaking school records offensively — then they’ll put themselves in a nice position to compete for SEC championships.

Losing Mauigoa hurts, but this isn’t like missing on a recruit five years ago. The Vols will have future opportunities to bring Mauigoa — or any other elite recruit — to Knoxville.

Tennessee is moving in the right direction under Heupel. And nothing about missing on Mauigoa changes that.

Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK