Checking the Boxes in Memphis

Sometimes it’s too easy to attribute strategic brilliance to things that happen to work out from multiple angles.  But when you look at how things have gone down with Tennessee’s recruitment of the Whitehaven Three – LBs Bryson Eason, Martavius French, and Tamarion McDonald – it’s hard not to be impressed with how many boxes Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt and Memphis-area recruiter David Johnson have checked in this process:

Get them on campus as younger prospects: Check

Target one in particular (Eason) as a high priority and recruit him accordingly: Check

Maintain relationships with the other two (via Johnson, especially) while monitoring their respective senior seasons: Check

Show a willingness to admit a “mistake” in not recruiting/offering French and McDonald earlier and course correcting when said film shows they are high quality SEC prospects: Check

Close the deal via intense recruiting both before and after hitting a homerun on their respective official visits: Check

Address a huge area of need while at the same time continuing to establish dominance in Memphis recruiting: Check

Further to that point, adding three players who are close with other coveted Memphis area prospects (OL Chris Morris and DL Omari Thomas): Check

These three prospects are, put simply, exactly the type of player Pruitt needs to continue rebuilding his defensive unit to look like the top-shelf SEC defenses he’s coached before at UGA and then Alabama.  Eason and French are both big, fast LBs and bigtime leaders at a program that is consistent winner at a state-title level.  McDonald is a different type of prospect than his teammates – lighter, faster, and rangier in the 220-lb range.  He’s a potential chess piece for Pruitt and DC Derrick Ansley to move all over the field depending on down and distance and likely a special teams stalwart right off the bat.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of landing these commitments and checking all of the boxes above.  The Vols won’t meet all of their positional needs in this class, but by adding these three Tennessee has certainly made serious headway at LB and without a doubt from a size/speed standpoint on defense.  LB prospects like 5-star Noah Sewell and others still remain on the board as well. Tennessee has With Thomas (among other important prospects) set to take his official visit to Knoxville this weekend – a fast-follow from visiting unofficially for the UGA game when the Whitehaven kids were on their Tennessee OV – the Vols have a chance to really keep that momentum going in the city of Memphis specifically and in the class of 2020 overall.

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