KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us at SEC Country for the latest recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers.
Top 50 cornerback visiting, considers Tennessee ‘a top school’
Tennessee will host a number of visitors during its season-opener against Appalachian State next Thursday (7:30 p.m., SEC Network), but no one — unless 5-star in-state tackle Trey Smith happens to show up — will be more important than blue-chip defensive back Lamont Wade.
I will be in Tennessee next week for the first game ❕ ?⚪️ #RockyTop ⚪️?
— 38Savage® (@Goony_38) August 23, 2016
The Top 50 prospect from Clairton High (Pa.) will take an unofficial trip to Knoxville next week, catching his second glimpse inside Neyland Stadium in just more than a year. Wade visited UT last fall for the exciting showdown against Georgia.
“Neyland is the best stadium I’ve ever visited,” Wade told SEC Country on Tuesday.
“I visited for the (Georgia) game last year and really liked the energy and everything about Tennessee. It’s going to be a really cool game to be at (next Thursday).”
Getting Wade back on campus is a huge coup for the Volunteers, as the 5-foot-9, 185-pound prospect is ranked as the nation’s No. 6 cornerback, per 247Sports Composite. Wade is a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 overall corner according to Rivals.
With Deangelo Gibbs leaning toward Georgia, Tennessee needs another blue-chip DB in its Class of 2017.
Wade is that and more.
Now, Wade will be a tough pull out of the Keystone State, but the cornerback holds Tennessee among his leaders along with Penn State, Pittsburg, Ohio State, UCLA and Oregon.
“Tennessee is one of my top schools,” Wade told SEC Country.
“I could see myself playing football at Tennessee. Tennessee is a place that I really want to go see again.”
Wade will play corner in college, but he’s the definition of a football player, doing a little bit of everything for Clairton High. He rushed for more than 1,300 yards last season, and this fall, he’ll play some quarterback, tailback, returner and corner for the Bears, hoping to lead his team to the state championship.
“That’s the main goal,” he said.
At Tennessee, the Under Armour All-American would slide in seamlessly in Bob Shoop’s aggressive scheme, and UT’s one potential recruiting advantage is the relationship the two share dating back to Shoop’s time as Penn State’s defensive coordinator.
For a heralded prospect, Wade has taken a mature and straightforward approach to the process. He’s not rushing into any decision, and he’s openly allowing Tennessee a legitimate chance to woo him out of the Northeast.
He’s tentatively mapped out his next few months, eyeing an announcement date in early December. Wade will unofficially visit Tennessee and another two schools before planning out his five official visits for the fall.
The future early enrollee hopes to study entrepreneurship in college, but if the Volunteers can get Wade back on campus for an official visit then they really could be the ones in business.
Jaylen Harris talks Tennessee, Ohio State numbers crunch
After a pair of 5-star receivers committed to Ohio State on Monday, 4-star wideout Jaylen Harris found himself on the wrong side of a numbers game.
Or maybe not.
Tennessee believes it’s the answer to Harris’ equation, and the Volunteers are ready to scoop up the Cleveland Heights (Ohio) standout.
Harris visited Knoxville in late July and lists the Vols among his Top 5 schools with OSU, Penn State, Alabama and Michigan State.
With OSU’s recent numbers crunch, many believe Harris will leave the Buckeye State and attend either Michigan State or UT.
But what does Harris say?
“I love Tennessee,” he told SEC Country on Tuesday.
“Coach (Butch) Jones, Coach (Zach) Azzanni. He’s been recruiting me real tough. We’ve built a great relationship. Every time I go to Tennessee I just feel mad love.”
Harris and Azzanni have grown close, with UT’s receivers coach dipping into his resume to sell Tennessee.
“He actually coached Antonio Brown and Antonio is my favorite receiver,” Harris said, referring to Azzanni’s time discovering and developing Brown at Central Michigan.
“So that gives them a plus right there. I think Antonio is the best receiver in the NFL.”
Harris feels comfortable in Knoxville and hopes to make an announcement soon. His one problem, though?
“It’s funny. One day I wake up and want to take all my officials. The next day I don’t want to take any,” he said, laughing.
“Then somedays I want to take just a couple. I’m all over the place. I’m not too sure.”
Harris believes all five of his leaders could be “home,” adding “they’re all recruiting me hard.”
Even with the recent news in Columbus, he hasn’t eliminated OSU, either.
“I saw they committed, but that really didn’t change the way I think about Ohio State,” he explained.
“I know spots are tight, but at the end of the day I feel like if a spot was to open up and I wanted to go to Ohio State, I would. If that’s where I wanted to go it wouldn’t be a problem with whatever receiver is there because I feel like I know I’m going to compete and compete hard and outwork everybody at my position.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com