The biggest recruiting trend so far in the Jeremy Pruitt era at Tennessee is the Vols getting bigger and stronger across the board at every position. If there’s another trend that is continuing on Rocky Top, it’s some old names popping up and popping for the Vols.
It happened when defensive lineman Emmit Gooden committed and ultimately signed with Tennessee in Pruitt’s initial class after being committed to UT as a high school upperclassman before heading to JUCO. He’s been a solid addition to the defensive front so far this season.
Former Vols tight end commitment Darrel Middleton is now a JUCO defensive lineman with offers from Georgia, Alabama and others, and he’s already decided to come home and be part of what Pruitt is building as a cornerstone of the 2019 class. With four senior defensive linemen heading off after this year, Middleton is a big piece of the puzzle in this class.
One of UT’s biggest remaining targets in the class is former mid-state wide receiver JaVonta Payton, who committed to Ole Miss out of high school, failed to qualify, went to JUCO and is now with the Rebels again, though UT is trying to steal him away.
On Tuesday night, yet another “blast from the past” chose to become a Vol. That would be Memphis defensive lineman Jordan Davis, who Tennessee recruited heavily the first time around with former coach Butch Jones. But Davis’ family loved Alabama (and Coach Pruitt) and he signed with the Crimson Tide instead. Davis was the No. 108-ranked player in the nation coming out of high school, according to 247Sports and looked like a potential big-time player at 6’5″, 238 pounds.
The defender failed to qualify, however, and went to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi, where he re-pledged to UA before backing off that commitment on November 3. He had offers from Tennessee and Mississippi State and ultimately decided Tuesday night he wanted to play for Pruitt.
He made his intentions known with a tweet.
Now would like to Say “ I Am Now Committed….” %100🍊 pic.twitter.com/Vug1A2kIUw
— Jordan Davis… (@jlpdavis99) November 14, 2018
Though there’s still a long time before Davis can suit up for the Vols, he’s a huge get if UT can ultimately get him on campus. He’s still got grade issues and should need the full two years at JUCO. Everybody knows a lot of things can happen in that timeframe with other schools coming calling, but Davis is a guy who seems dialed-in on playing for Pruitt.
Tennessee ace recruiter Brian Niedermeyer alluded to Davis’ commitment with a tweet of his own Tuesday night.
— Brian Niedermeyer (@NiedermeyerB) November 14, 2018
Who knows what all is going to happen with Davis and how he develops between now and 2020. At 240 pounds, he’s got the kind of frame that could add 40-50 pounds and play with his hand down. He also could stay on the second level as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, though a line spot looks most likely.
He was the No. 6 weak side defensive end nationally and the No. 2 overall prospect out of Tennessee coming out of high school, according to 247Sports, and he is exactly the kind of JUCO instant-impact player the Vols will need as they try to fill in the gaps from the past two mediocre classes of the Butch Jones era.
Davis is a big-time player if he continues to develop, make the grades and keeps his head on straight. This is a player UA wants, and the Vols outright beat the Tide, at least for his commitment, even though there’s a long time before his signature goes on paper. Davis looks like a big piece of the future.