Tennessee received a commitment from it’s 4th OL in the 2020 class when Kyree Miller went public with his pledge on Tuesday. Fresh off his official visit to Knoxville this past weekend, Miller didn’t need to wait any longer before jumping into the boat. At 6’4 and ~360 pounds, Miller is a massive prospect who likely projects somewhere along the interior of the OL.
The fact that he committed to Tennessee shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given that the Vols are far and away his best offer among the likes of SMU, Colorado State, and UTEP. What may be surprising, and perhaps even disappointing on the surface for Vols fans is that Tennessee was willing to take him this relatively early in the process. Having just hosted 4-star RJ Adams on an unofficial visit, just offered 3-to-play-3 JUCO Jeremy Flax, and presumably still in the mix for Memphis-native and Texas A&M commitment Chris Morris, taking Miller represents a calculation from Tennessee’s staff that not only is Miller a future SEC OL but also that the chances of landing one of those aforementioned OL wasn’t worth foregoing just taking Miller now.*
Is that the right approach? Only time will tell. What we do know about Miller is that he’s turned himself into a legitimate SEC prospect by dropping his weight by nearly 70 pounds since last season, when he tipped the scales at around 430. That shows a pretty high level of dedication and discipline if nothing else, especially for a 17 year old. When looking at his senior year film, it is clear that he moves incredibly well for that incredible size. He’s not a sprinter by any means but he is used as a pulling guard quite a bit and you actually see him getting to the 2nd level quite a bit. Combine that with a real nasty mentality (notably shared by all of his OL commitment peers) and that sheer size that he effectively turns into power when engaged with a defender, and he is a really nice looking longer-term prospect. Particularly when projecting a few years out with college level coaching a more importantly Tennessee’s Strength & Conditioning program. He’s pretty clearly not a Darnell Wright/Wanya Morris caliber prospect, at least early on, but the good news is that Tennessee don’t need that. Frankly, he might not even be a prospect on the level of a Morris or Adams, though you never know until they get to college especially at a position as difficult to evaluate as OL. But with the depth and talent that Tennessee has returning next season – it’s reasonable to say that all of Tennessee’s 2020 OL signees won’t be called upon and therefore will redshirt anyway.
Another reason for optimism when it comes to Miller’s long-term future is the track record of Pruitt and Co’s talent evaluation. As we’ve noted before, Pruitt’s recruiting philosophy revolves around two things: 1) bluechippers, for whom he’s willing to go head to head with the best of the best programs in the country, and 2) underrecruited prospects who he and his staff have evaluated and judged to be capable of helping Tennessee contend of championships, other offers be damned. He’s landed his share of the former, many of whom are littered over the field this season as true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and sophomores. But he’s also not been afraid to pull the trigger on the latter, and so far the success rate is pretty darn high. Guys like Kenneth George, Jahmir Johnson, Kurrott Garland, Cedric Tillman, Jerrod Means, Darrell Middleton, Roman Harrison, and Kenny Solomon were all either lightly recruited all the way through the process or discovered first by Tennessee before landing more big offers, and are now playing roles large and small for a resurgent program. In the 2020 class, Tennessee took a commitment from 3-star Jimmy Calloway when his only other offer was from Georgia Tech as 247Sports’ #787 overall prospect. He’s now a 4-star, ranked the nation’s #203 best prospect, and the Vols are going to have to fight off Oklahoma and very possibly Georgia for him. Point being, while Pruitt hasn’t batted 1.000 when it comes to under the radar evals, his track record makes you think he knows what he’s doing in this regard. Whether Miller turns out to be that kind of prospect probably won’t be fully known for a full years, he brings a lot of traits that make one think the likelihood is high. And in a program still just trying to get bigger and better in the trenches, this looks like a pretty good bet.
*It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Tennessee ends up with an extra spot at the 11th hour and takes a 5th OL as a Best Player Available. It just seems unlikely at this point