After a successful recruiting weekend for the Orange & White Game that brought in a slew of high level 2019 and 2020 prospects, Tennessee heads into the month of May with a 2019 class that is relatively small on quantity but impressively high on quality. In OL Jackson Lampley, TE Jackson Lowe, and DL LeDarrius Cox and DL Darrel Middleton, Tennessee has a group of 2019 commitments for whom they have beaten out SEC powers, and who at the same time represent both Coach Jeremy Pruitt’s commitment to fixing Tennessee in the trenches and also simply recruiting more physically imposing players – the kind of prospects that Tennessee needs to land in order to get back to contending for SEC East and conference championships as quickly as possible.
Depending on the decisions of a handful of players, May could be a month where things significantly heat up on the recruiting trail for the Vols in which the pattern of beating out bigtime programs for elite-level players would continue. Below is a quick look at prospects who will make May decisions and where the Vols stand:
May 1: OL Wanya Morris – The saga is pretty well-known at this point, with Morris seemingly going back and forth between his finalists Tennessee and Auburn on a daily basis. As of this writing the Vols have the momentum coming out of his official visit to Knoxville last weekend and subsequently cancelling his previously scheduled trip to the Plains. He is scheduled to announce his decision on the first day of May along with a handful of his Grayson HS teammates, and right now things look good for the Vols. This could certainly take some more twists and turns between now and then though, and regardless of his pronouncements (publicly and, apparently, privately) that once he commits he will completely shut it down, it’s hard to believe that the “loser” on May 1 will simply roll over. The bottom line though is that Morris would be a foundational piece of this class and with Lampley already in the fold and the Vols very much in the thick of it with 5-star Darnell Wright among highly regarded OL like Bryce Benhart, Triston Miller, and others
May 12: TE Sean Brown: Another Tennessee-Auburn battle is brewing for the physical TE prospect from Georgia, and Tennessee would love to add him to Jackson Lowe to form a highly-ranked and potentially instant impact set of TEs. Brown has been on campus three times in the last month or so including last weekend for the O&W Game and is set to announce in a few weeks. He could end up visiting Auburn again before then but right now all the money is on the Vols for Brown
May ?: WR Ramel Keyton – Keyton made his sixth trip to campus and his third since Pruitt and Co. came to town this past weekend and immediately after announced that he ready to decide sometime in May. Yet again the Vols are head to head with Auburn, and yet again at this point Tennessee looks to be in good position. He’s one of the best WRs in the class, and is the kind of big physical pass-catchers that Pruitt loves. Notably, Keyton hails from the talent-laden Marietta HS in Marietta, GA, also home to Tennessee’s #1 QB prospect in the 2020 class Harrison Bailey as well as fellow 2020 5-star 2020 TE Arik Gilbert (who recently named UT his leader) and 2020 DB Rashard Torrence (who visited for the 3rd time this spring last weekend). Adding Keyton would further aid the Vols in their pursuit of these other studs
Grad Transfer CB Nick Harvey
A Grad Transfer, Harvey is a former four-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American. He appeared in all but one game during his first three years at Texas A&M and then started 12 games in 2016, but sat out last season and tearing his ACL during the offseason. He’s already taken official visits to Arizona, Auburn, and South Carolina, and is deciding whether or not to take one more, to either Florida or Oklahoma State, before announcing his decision on May 11. Were the Vols to land him he would be an instant impact addition to the 2018 team, bringing talent and SEC experience to a CB room that sorely lacks both. Adding him to the top group of CBs made up of Baylen Buchanan, Shawn Shamburger, Alontae Taylor and Marquill Osborne would increase the odds that Coach Terry Fair and Pruitt can cobble together a solid secondary. It would also reduce the pressure on newcomers to the position (Carlin Fils-aime and Maleik Gray) and to the team (Treveon Flowers, Kenneth Gaines, and Brandon Davis
With coaches on the road and some prospects simply tiring of the process and deciding they are ready for it to be over, there could certainly be others who pop in May. With a relatively small class – which could get smaller if Pruitt decides to take any further grad transfers in a bid to make his first season as successful as possible – it will be interesting to see how Tennessee’s staff manages the numbers. So far it’s safe to say they’ve done a great job of taking only impact players and positioning themselves for a good number of others to fill out the remaining spots.