What a day for Tennessee’s future defense.
After Gurley, Alabama, 3-star linebacker Matthew Flint picked the Vols over Auburn, Louisville and others on Wednesday morning, UT continued its ridiculous recruiting run with a commitment from 4-star safety Trey Dean on Wednesday night.
The 6’2″, 180-pound, hard-hitting safety from Dutchtown High School in Hampton, Georgia, visited Knoxville this past weekend. He went ahead and committed to the Vols on Wednesday despite nearly 75 percent of his Crystal Ball projections going to Alabama, after the Crimson Tide offered him two weeks ago.
Dean is one of the top 300 players in the country and was one of Tennessee’s top defensive back targets. Now, if the Vols can somehow land Jaycee Horn, that will be a dynamic recruiting class. Adding Horn to Tanner Ingle and Brandon Cross for the cornerback haul and pairing Dean with Chattanooga stud Brendon Harris makes this a potentially stellar DB haul for first-year secondary coach Charlton Warren.
Dean has the kind of offer list you’re looking for regardless of position. Along with the Crimson Tide, home-state Georgia, Clemson, South Carolina, Miami and Texas also had offered, along with many more.
Prior to visiting Knoxville this past weekend for Tennessee’s season-opening practice, Dean was thought to be a long shot. It looked like it was going to be a battle between Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. But Dean apparently loved what he saw. The newest commitment surges Tennessee to the top of the SEC recruiting rankings per 247Sports and sixth nationally.
Tennessee now has a 5-star prospect and eight composite 4-stars. If you look at the offer sheets of some of the 3-stars the Vols have gotten thus far, it’s obvious that — at least on paper — this is head coach Butch Jones’ strongest class by far. With 6-7 spots remaining, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Vols use them.
They’ll almost certainly take at least one more defensive back, two receivers, an offensive lineman, and perhaps two more rush defensive ends. If they elect to just take one defensive lineman, the Vols could use that position on a best-available guy at tight end, linebacker or something else.
This class has it all. The Vols have two excellent quarterback prospects with high upside, perhaps the best defensive line haul of the Jones era, quality offensive linemen highlighted by 5-star Cade Mays and a good defensive back stable. They also have two running backs they really like.
If UT can add a couple of impact receivers, this is about the best it could hope for. Shocky Jacques-Louis and Jeshaun Jones are a pair of receivers who are strongly looking at UT, and Horn is perhaps the top remaining prospect on UT’s board. Offensive tackle Jerome Carvin is a potential pledge, too.
But tonight is about Dean, and today is about defense. Flint brought the speed as a linebacker prospect, and though Dean isn’t the fastest defensive back prospect, he’ll pack a punch when he fills out his frame. He’s a potential force, a punisher on the back end who can do a lot of different things from the back level.
There’s a lot of good stuff in this article from VQ’s Jesse Simonton on Dean, including this:
“He’s a guy who relies on his initial instances and quick bursts,” Rivals.com analyst Chad Simmons told VolQuest’s Jesse Simonton. “I like him playing centerfield on the backend of the defense. He needs to fill out his frame, but he does play a little bit bigger than he is.”
Dean will fit in nicely. With freshman safeties Theo Jackson and Maleik Gray already turning heads in Knoxville and sophomore Nigel Warrior a budding star, UT looks like it’s in a strong position on the back end of the defense for years to come. If the Vols can hang on to Dean, he’ll be a part of that sooner rather than later once he gets into a college weight program.
The Vols have consistently recruited well under Jones, though last season saw a bit of a dip in the rankings. Even so, there are a lot of players from that class already performing well in practice such as Josh Palmer, Ty Chandler, Tim Jordan, Jackson, Kivon Bennett, Matthew Butler, Will Ignont, Cheyenne Labruzza and others. So, it’s become clear at this point Jones knows what he’s doing on the trail.
This could wind up being the best of them all. With depth, talent and needs met, the 2017 class is shaping up to be strong. Getting Flint and Dean are big pieces of the puzzle.