January 19th Weekend Preview

After a very successful first official visit weekend after the dead period, Tennessee is set to open its doors again this weekend to an eclectic set of visitors.  At the same time, many of the Volunteers’ top targets will be officially visiting elsewhere, so there will be tons to follow:

ATH Anthony Grant will be taking his official visit to Knoxville as a very soft commitment.  Back in December I made a case for why he should be a priority for the staff and while they haven’t gone balls to the wall with him, and don’t seem to know where he would play, they have obviously made it clear they want him.  He has OV’d to Virginia Tech in December and UNC this past weekend, and both are recruiting him very hard.  It’s good news to me that he’ll be on campus: he’ll get to meet the coaches and both sides can size each other up.  I think in the end he won’t be the 2nd RB in this class – if he does end up a Vol my guess is he starts out in the secondary and C’Bo Flemister continues to be an option at RB depending on needs/options at other positions

S Nikko Hall from California has moved his visit up to this weekend after a visit from Terry Fair this week.  Hall is an interesting player in that he’s a high level athlete who can play both sides of the ball but is being recruited to the defensive backfield by Tennessee.  However, his offer list doesn’t reflect his relatively high rating, as right now the other programs fighting for him include Iowa State, Illinois, and now Nebraska – an odd list for a California kid in particular.  That said, the Tennessee staff certainly seems enamored with him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they press for a commitment and he obliges while in Knoxville this weekend

ATH Tre’shaun Harrison, a former Oregon commitment, took an official visit to Utah this past weekend.  He will OV to Tennessee this coming weekend and then to Oregon and FSU (Willie Taggart, again).  He’s a 4-star player capable of playing both WR and DB, and he’s another West Coast kid who’s likely to be blown away by what he sees in Knoxville.  The interest on both sides is a bit unknown at this point, but there’s enough from Harrison to fly thousands of miles to check it out.  We’ll know more on this one after his OV is over.  Taggart used inhome on Monday of this week, so if the Vols make an impression this weekend and want to keep recruiting Harrison hard they will have that advantage over the Seminoles

DE John Mincey, who last week decommitted from Arkansas, has set his official visits to Tennessee this coming weekend, followed by South Carolina and then FSU.  However, per GoVols247, Tennessee is the team to beat going into the weekend.  Should the Vols push for a commitment they might be able to lock him down.  He’s a large young man who would likely at least initially be a SDE in the Pruitt/Sherrer defense (with the chance to grow into a player who can move inside) and is a guy who you probably take as soon as you can get him.  The status of fellow SDE prospect Malik Langham, who is scheduled to visit instate Alabama this weekend and might be leaning towards the Tide

OL Dylan Wonnum has moved his originally scheduled visit to South Carolina and scheduled a trip to Knoxville for this weekend.  His brother is at Carolina and he is definitely considered a heavy Gamecock lean, but the Vols have worked hard to get him to campus after starting from scratch and will have a chance to show him the kind of opportunity he would have with the limited numbers on the Vols OL

S Trevon Flowers is a new prospect on the board for the Vols (and just about every other program).  He signed to play shortstop for Kentucky back in December out of Tucker High School near Atlanta, meaning colleges couldn’t offer him. However, the UK baseball staff lifted that ban and he’s since received offers from Tennessee and a handful of smaller programs to this point.  The Tucker football coach was quoted as saying “He can be as good as he wants to be. We’ve got guys who have played for us here playing in the National Football League. He’s as talented as anyone we’ve coached here. The sky is the limit for him” so there’s clearly talent there.  I think right now Flowers is lower on the board than more than a handful of other defensive backs, but getting him on campus gives Pruitt and Co. another option should they need it

Eyes on Athens and Tuscaloosa

Georgia: After a bunch of twists and turns with his visit schedule, Quay Walker will officially visit Georgia this weekend instead of Alabama.  Most people think that UGA is the other major contender for Walker besides Tennessee at this point, so this visit will be keenly watched.  The other thing to keep an eye on in Athens is whether Tennessee commitment and good friend JJ Peterson comes with Walker to Athens.  Peterson is scheduled to be at Alabama this weekend, but so was Walker as of 24 hours ago, so who knows.  I think Tennessee coaches would love for Peterson to accompany Walker this weekend so he can stay in his ear about the Vols – and also, as importantly, so he wouldn’t be in Tuscaloosa – but that’s TBD at this point.  Either way, Walker is a major target for both UT and UGA and this visit could go a long way towards his final decision

Alabama: Despite signing three high level DBs in December, Alabama is still looking for more.  This weekend they will host CBs Tyson Campbell (heavy Georgia lean) and Patrick Surtain along with newly offered DB Julius Irvin.  Along with the three bigtime DBs Alabama is scheduled to have on campus this weekend, they are also scheduled to have Kelvin Joseph (soft LSU commit) , Isaac Taylor-Stuart, Eddie Smith, and a new addition to their board – Olaijah Griffin – officially visit the following weekend.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  From a numbers perspective it seems like Alabama could only take one, maybe two more DBs.  And not only did they just offer Irvin yesterday but they also offered former UGA commit Richard Wildgoose – doesn’t make you think Bama feels good about where they stand with any of their main DB targets.  But, if you assume Bama won’t strike out completely and if as a UT fan you’re thinking strategically, you’d prefer them to land either Campbell (to steal from UGA, though that would make the Dawgs bigger players for Isaac Taylor-Stuart) or even better some combo of Joseph/Surtain/Irvin/Wildgoose (with Campbell to UGA).  That would likely take Bama out of the running for all of Griffin/Smith/Taylor-Stuart, leaving Tennessee as major players and the only school with room to take all three.  Either way, a lot left to shake out with Alabama’s recruiting in the secondary, with major implications for Tennessee.

If Peterson doesn’t go to Athens that means he’s in Tuscaloosa.  The Tide were long considered his destination before Pruitt’s move to Tennessee, and they are clearly not going down without a fight.  Most think UT is in good shape here regardless, but if you’re Tennessee you’d much rather have him not take that visit to Alabama

Bama will also host major Vol DL target Malik Langham.  As noted above, some think Langham might be on commitment watch this weekend while he’s told others he will definitely take his next two visits to UF and Tennessee (both of whom just had their respective head coaches inhome, perhaps trying to convince him not to commit this weekend?). He’s one to watch in particular, as his decision (or lack thereof) could influence what Tennessee does with the aforementioned John Mincey

Other Visits to Watch

Texas will host LB/DEs Michael Williams and Caleb Okechukwu.  Williams is fresh off a great visit to Knoxville and is likely down to the Two UTs now that Texas offered on Wednesday.  He’ll likely make a decision soon after this weekend, and whether he has a spot at Tennessee remains to be seen (I’m a huge fan).  There are rumblings that he is more likely to go with Texas than with the Vols, but we’ll see.  Okechukwu’s recruitment has been pretty quiet after earning a bunch of offers with his performance at the Under-Armour game.  Where he sits on Texas’s board, or Tennessee’s board (he is set to visit Knoxville on 1/26) is unknown

Mississippi State will host CB Eddie Smith.  Smith appears to be a big Tennessee lean heading into his final two OVs to State and Alabama, and you can bet the Vol coaches will be doing everything they can to get him to go ahead and commit instead of taking either of them

Oregon will host both CB Olaijah Griffin and NG Coynis Miller.  Griffin is fresh off a very good visit to USC and then an inhome visit from Terry Fair, and the Vols and Trojans are firmly co-leaders at this point.  This seems like a recruitment that will take many twists and turns but at its core will come down to whether he wants to stay home (USC) or strike out on his own, in which at this point Tennessee would be the odds-on favorite despite any potential dalliances with schools like Alabama or Auburn, etc.  Similarly, Miller is unlikely to end up out West but is taking the visit due to his relationship with new Ducks HC Mario Cristobal.  He’s scheduled to be in Knoxville the following weekend and UT is viewed as the one school that could realistically flip him even though he currently has an OV set up to Florida the first weekend in February

A handful of Vol WR targets will be spread out across the country, but none of the hosting schools appear to be the top contender for any of them.  Texas A&M will host WR Jacob Copeland (Bama, UF, UT), UNC will host WR Warren Thompson (FSU, UT, maybe UF), OSU will host WR Antoine Green (UNC, UT – likely not a take for OSU), and Colorado State will host WR Brandon Aiyuk (no Vol offer – if I were him I’d take that Rams offer while it’s hot)

Ole Miss will have two UT targets on campus in TE Glenn Beal and DL Fabian Lovett.  Beal as everyone knows named Tennessee as his leader before his OV to Texas A&M, after which he is thought to be a heavy Aggie lean.  The fact that he has not yet committed (at least publicly) and that coaches from Tennessee and other schools keep visiting him tells me that he’s still open and that UT in particular is still trying here.  I don’t expect him to end up at Ole Miss.  Lovett is a MS native who was a Mississippi commitment until Dan Mullen left for swampier pastures.  The Vol staff has been working for a while to land an official and he’s now scheduled to be in Knoxville next weekend.  Ole Miss is a legit threat for the instate 3-4 DL though, so there’s a chance he commits while in Oxford.  But Florida is also a real contender thanks to Mullen and Lovett is currently set to visit Gainesville the first weekend of February

Louisiana Lafayette will host JUCO DL Emmit Gooden, who got a UT offer on Sunday night.  Gooden has to be considered an academic risk at this point (hence the visit to ULL), but if UT gains real confidence he can qualify they will pursue him heavily and I would expect him to end up a Vol

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