Dash to December – A Preview

Well, the 2018 season is over after a disappointing final two weeks.  Every Vol fan has known that the talent deficit was real, but in the last two games against Missouri and Vanderbilt – not exactly two powerhouses and frankly programs Tennessee should be better than just about every season – no longer are we talking about getting back to competing with the Alabamas and Georgias of the conference.  At this point it’s plain that, after a pretty successful 2018 recruiting class, Jeremy Pruitt needs to hit a homerun with his the 2019 class in order to simply be better than the Missouris and Vanderbilts and South Carolinas before we can start thinking about competing for championships again.  To that end, Tennessee currently has 20 commitments in a class that ranks in the Top 15 nationally, and the majority will sign with the Vols on December 19 during the Early Signing Period.  Barring attrition, which will surely happen one way or the other, that leaves roughly 5 more spots to fill.  In the coming days we’ll take a deeper look at remaining needs and the most likely players to fill those spots, but first we’ll start with a 30,000-foot preview of the weeks ahead between now – the start of the Contact Period – and the December signing period, with some notes at the end

December Signees – Current Commitments

As of now, 14 of Tennessee’s 20 current commitments plan to sign in December.  That will allow the staff to do the majority of their inhomes with this group to get them solidified and then immediately focus on the remaining commitments and targets – both for December and February- plus continue to lay the groundwork for the 2020 class

QB Brian Maurer

OL Wanya Morris

OL Jackson Lampley

OL Chris Akproroghene

TE Jackson Lowe

TE Sean Brown

WR Ramel Keyton

DL Darrel Middleton

DL Savion Williams

DL Roman Harrison

CB Tyus Fields

CB Warren Burrell

S Tank McCullough

S Anthony Harris

Early Enrollees – Current Commitments

Having at least the 8 current commitments enroll in January and be available for spring practice will be huge for these individuals as well as the program in the future and immediately in 2019.  Most if not all of them will be given the opportunity to earn significant playing time as they add talent and depth to the roster

QB Brian Maurer

OL Wanya Morris

OL Chris Akproroghene

TE Jackson Lowe

WR Ramel Keyton

DL Darrel Middleton

CB Tyus Fields

CB Warren Burrell

S Tank McCullough

February Signees – Current Commitments

From the list below, McBride, Beasley, Henry and Cox should not be considered 100% firm commitments, as they’ve each shown interest in other schools including Beasley and Henry taking official visits elsewhere.  It’s unclear at this point why Simmons and Clemons are not signing in December, but so far at least neither of them have publicly shown interest in other schools.  Simmons in particular is a prospect who I think can make an immediate impact on the DL, while Henry is a plug and play prospect at a position in dire need of more talent

OL Melvin McBride

ATH Aaron Beasley

LB Lakia Henry

DL Elijah Simmons

DL Ledarrius Cox

DL Jalil Clemons

Remaining Board – December Signees

RB Eric Gray (EE)

WR Jaden Haselwood (EE)

LB Owen Pappoe (EE)

LB Trezeman Marshall (EE)

LB Quarvaris Crouch (EE)

Rush End Niadre Zouzoua (EE)

DL Justin Eboigbe (EE)

DL Nick Figureoa (EE)

DB Kenyatta Watson (EE)

Remaining Board – February Signees

OL Darnell Wright

WR Khafre Brown

WR Xavier Leggette

RB Lee Witherspoon

LB Henry To’oto’to

DL Jaren Handy

DB Jammie Robinson

Postseason All-Star Games

The postseason bowl games in and of themselves are not particularly important, but the week of practice leading up to each of them is often a chance for top prospects to go head to head with better talent then they are used to seeing during the season as well as do peer recruiting, which will be especially important for the Vols.  It’s also a time where under the radar prospects in the Shrine Bowl and AL-MS game can show out and see their recruitments go to another level

NC-SC Shrine Bowl – December 15th

WR Khafre Brown

S Anthony Harris (Vol commit)

Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game

DL Jalil Clemons (Vol commit)

DL Ledarrius Cox (Vol commit)

DL Jaren Handy (Auburn commit)

RB Lee Witherspoon

Under Armour All-America Bowl January 3rd

OL Wanya Morris (Vol commit)

OL Darnell Wright

LB Owen Pappoe

CB Kenyatta Watson

S Tank McCullough (Vol commit)

Army All-America Bowl January 5th

RB Eric Gray

WR Ramel Keyton (Vol commit)

WR Jaden Haselwood

WR Jaylen Ellis

LB Henry To’oto’to

LB Quarvaris Crouch

News and Notes from the weekend

  • There have already been some notable firings across the country (UNC, Texas Tech, among others), and the coaching carousel will continue and as such will shake up recruiting boards as it always does. That will have both positive and negative implications for the Vols and will be something to monitor
  • To that end, there are rumors swirling that Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Tyson Helton will not be back with the Vols next season. Although he is currently on the road recruiting for the Vols, those rumors will likely persist until either he does leave the staff or something very, very definitive happens the other way.  QB commitment Brian Maurer, who Central Florida has been quietly pushing for over the past month or so, would be one to watch if there is a change made
  • Alabama commitment and Vol DL target Justin Eboigbe was in Tuscaloosa on an unofficial visit this past weekend for the Iron Bowl two weeks after taking an unofficial visit to Knoxville for the win over Kentucky. He currently has an OV to Miami on the books for the 12/7 weekend, and his plan all along has been to take his Bama OV the 12/14 weekend which immediately precedes Signing Day, so if the Vols are going to get him back to campus for an OV it will have to be in the next two week
  • Another Iron Bowl visitor was Georgia commitment and bigtime Vol LB target Trezeman Marshall. This originally was going to be an OV but instead was an unofficial visit, meaning the Tide will likely get him back to Tuscaloosa again before Signing Day.  While the Dawgs and the Vols are thought to be his Top 2, Bama obviously is a real threat here
  • Speaking of the Iron Bowl, Auburn’s demolition at the hands of Alabama (join the club) finished off a tumultuous regular season for the Tigers than Tennessee (among others) have continued to try and take advantage of. Everyone knows that Tennessee is in prime position to flip Owen Pappoe from Auburn, but one Tiger commitment that the Vols have been quietly working on for months is DL Jaren Handy from Hattiesburg, MS.  Handy ws first an LSU commitment before flipping to Auburn and has been taking visits to other campuses all season.  He took an UV to Knoxville in the spring and on Sunday tweeted out that he was looking at “Tennessee, LSU, Bama, Florida, and Ole Miss (maybe).”  Look for the Vols to try and get the February signee back on campus for an OV sometime after the early signing period depending on how things go with the rest of the class

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Lawrence Cleveland
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Lawrence Cleveland

Good stuff Dylan