Can the Vols Depend on Instate Prospects in 2021?

After signing 10 Tennesseans as part of the class of 2020 – after only signing 5 (including Melvin McBride, who immediately took a medical redshirt in the class of 2019 – it is an open question how big a part of Tennessee’s 2021 class instate prospects will be.  A common narrative at this point in the cycle is that the overall instate talent, both in terms of high end prospects as well as top to bottom, is down as compared to last cycle.  And while that could end up being true, a deeper look reveals that the state of Tennessee could still play a large role in the Vols’ class of 2021 than some currently think, even if states like GA, AL, and NC are rightfully getting a lot of attention from the Tennessee staff and recruiting fans.

Below, by each of the Three Grand Divisions, shows prospects with Tennessee offers.  Those with asterisks are not only elite prospects but also are players who Tennessee would take today if they called the coaches and wanted to commit.  So while many of those might not be committable *right now*, quite a few are.  Also, many of those that don’t have currently committable offers from the Vols do have them from multiple SEC schools.  Further, as a reminder, two of the three Whitehaven Trio from the class of 2020 as well as RB signee Jabari Small were not true Vol targets until October of 2019, so recent history says that at least a couple the below sans asterisk might end up being bigtime targets depending on how their respective senior seasons go and what else happens with other prospects on Tennessee’s board:

2021 West TN Prospects with Vol Offers

  • OL Dietrick Pennington*
  • TE Hudson Wolfe*
  • CB Gregory Rubin*
  • OL DJ Harden (CBHS)

2021 Midstate TN Prospects with Vol Offers

  • LB Junior Colson*
  • WR Adonai Mitchell*
  • OL William Griffin*
  • DL Javon Nelson*
  • TE Jake Bringingstool* (Clemson commit)
  • DB Andre Turrentine* (OSU commit)
  • WR Walker Merrill
  • DB Kyndrich Breedlove
  • DL Quanterius Lusk
  • DL Alex Okelo
  • ATH Damon Owens
  • WR Quenton Barnes
  • CB Adrian Huey

2021 East TN Prospects with Vol Offers

  • RB/CB Elijah Howard* (Vol commit)
  • ATH Tray Curry
  • ATH Javin Burke
  • ATH Jaden Keller
  • OL Jmarion Gooch

That’s ten instate players the Vols would take right now (counting one who’s likely off the table in Briningstool and recent OSU commitment Turrentine, who may still be in play down the line).  And that’s not counting guys like Okelo, who got a relatively recent offer (mid-January) or Barnes and Huey, who visited campus as recently as the weekend before last.  One could also easily make the case that guys like Merrill, Curry, Breedlove and a few others should and maybe would be immediate takes as well.  For example, perhaps Breedlove, with Turrentine’s commitment to OSU, sees the heat from Tennessee turned up a notch.  He does already have offers from some really good programs in Michigan State and Baylor, after all.  In terms of where Tennessee stands with the “takes,” the Vols seem to be in very good position for Mitchell, Colson and Griffin in particular, and deep in the mix for the rest – including probably Turrentine – with the exception of Briningstool. 

With a better recruiting staff than the  year before; now two-plus years for Pruitt, OL Coach Will Friend, and OLB Coach Brian Niedermeyer (the only two remaining holdovers from the original staff) to have built relationships instate; as well as two all time VFL greats in Tee Martin and Jay Graham on staff, Tennessee is in prime position to land a larger percentage of its true instate targets.  If Tennessee could land a large majority of the elite players it is currently heavily targeting it would mean beating out the likes of Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and other elite programs.  Having lost one each to Clemson and OSU, the Vols really need to make a move, but there is still plenty of time to do so.  Even more importantly it would provide a strong foundation of bigtime talent for the Vols to build their class around.  So don’t write off the state of Tennessee for the 2021 cycle just yet.  As usual, instate prospects are likely to play a major role in the Vols class.

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