After they visited Knoxville for “Orange Carpet Day” last weekend, it became clear that Lyn-J Dixon and Anthony Grant could decide they wanted to team up in Tennessee’s offensive backfield for the next few years.
On Sunday, that possibility came one step closer to a reality when Grant, a 3-star runner from Buford High School in the Atlanta suburb verbally committed to the Vols. His pledge came a day after 4-star running back Dixon announced he wanted to spend his college career on Rocky Top. Grant announced the news via Twitter.
Now, if the duo follows through and signs with UT, the Vols will have their two running backs in this class.
It became clear over the past couple of weeks how Tennessee’s running backs board was formulating following the decommitment of Jashaun Corbin and his pledge to Florida State. Though the Vols were a finalist for Murfreesboro runner Master Teague, the interest between the school and the prospect never really heated up. Once Ohio State offered Teague, he decided Columbus is where he wanted to be.
Dixon was always at or near the top of Tennessee’s list, and he was a no-brainer take for the Vols, so when he wanted to pull the trigger yesterday, it was huge news. Grant’s flirtation grew over the past few weeks, and when Gurley (Ala.) running back Tae Provens committed to LSU this weekend after saying UT led for the longest time, it was obvious that the two parties were going in different directions. Grant wound up being higher on the Vols’ board, and he committed Sunday.
That gives the Vols a strong pair of running backs a year after UT signed three in Nashville stud Ty Chandler, late-rising athlete Timothy Jordan and Louisiana bruiser Trey Coleman.
For the second year in a row, the Vols beat out North Carolina for one of their runners. Grant chose UT over other finalists North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Florida and N.C. State. He came from Buford, where Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has enjoyed recruiting success recently, landing linebacker Austin Smith and defensive lineman Quay Picou three classes ago.
Grant plays for a powerhouse program and splits carries with a couple of other kids who’ll play college ball. Once Dixon committed to UT on Saturday, Grant sat down and evaluated his options and told VolQuest.com’s Jesse Simonton that Tennessee was still where he wanted to be, calling it “home.” The 5’11”, 195-pound athlete can slash, but he’s also a power back who can add weight and still be a quality three-down runner.
Plus, Dixon’s pledge was a plus.
“I feel like I can do it all. I’m an every down ‘back,” he told Simonton. “I can also catch the ball in the backfield. I can do a lot of things. … It’s going to be great playing (with Dixon). We’ve built a great relationship. We get along really good. I feel like it’s going to be fun and exciting to be in the same backfield as him.”
Tennessee now has 14 commitments in this year’s class, and the Vols continue to surge up the rankings. They’re second in the SEC according to 247Sports, and Jones’ re-assembled coaching staff is proving it can bring in plenty of quality players.
The Vols now have a pair of running backs and a pair of quarterbacks, addressing two huge needs on offense. With all the success the program has experienced recently in recruiting offensive linemen, if the young receivers pan out, this could be an exciting offense for new coordinator Larry Scott in the future.
It looks like UT will have plenty of options behind whoever wins the signal-caller battle. This year, every-down runners John Kelly and Chandler should lead the way with slashers Carlin Fils-aime and Jordan behind them with Coleman filling the role of short-yardage back if he doesn’t redshirt (which he should). Now, the Vols have a couple of talented runners to join them in 2018.