KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers.
On Tuesday, 5-star offensive tackle Trey Smith received his Under Armour All-American jersey in a presentation at his University School in Jackson.
— Derek Tyson (@DerekTysonESPN) November 1, 2016
The award ceremony was just the latest honor for the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect according to ESPN.
As I’ve covered here many, many times, Smith remains Tennessee’s highest priority in its 2017 class.
The in-state tackle checks every single “need” box.
All of them.
He is intimately familiar with the program, too, seeing the Volunteers play three times already this season. Smith’s sister, Ashley, also works in the football offices, giving him another connection to the program.
But while Tennessee remains the favorite to land the in-state stud, Smith isn’t tipping his hand on a decision with just over a month before his Dec. 6 announcement.
Following his ceremony Tuesday, Smith outlined his visit plans to ESPN.com.
Getting Smith’s final official visit before he makes his decision public is another win for Tennessee. The Volunteers have dropped three-straight, and the recent Jalen Hurd saga has left folks wondering about its impact on recruiting. Smith told ESPN’s Derek Tyson he isn’t deterred by the recent turmoil at Tennessee.
“Tennessee has had a tough couple of weeks, but they are going to bounce back just like any other program,” Smith said. “Playing in the SEC is a tough conference. You have to play week by week and compete every single week. … You have to bring it every week; it doesn’t change. Notre Dame is still one of my top teams, Ohio State, Ole Miss, they all have losses, so that doesn’t change anything.”
That’s good news for the Volunteers, who can’t afford to miss on Smith. While everything suggests they sit in a good spot with a month to go, Smith left the door open that his recruitment is not over just yet.
“I still have a (top) school in mind, but I’m also branching out a little more and really considering the other programs. It’s not set in stone at all.”
QB board still fluid
Tennessee has a 2017 quarterback commit in 3-star Connecticut signal-caller C.J. Lewis, but the Volunteers haven’t been shy about targeting other prospects in the class recently.
Two weeks ago, Tennessee extended an offer to little-known Alabama quarterback Bubba Thompson. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Auburn baseball commit is a two-way star for McGill Toolen Catholic and received an offer from Ole Miss, too.
On Tuesday, Tennessee offered South Carolina quarterback commit Jay Urich.
The 3-star prospect from Wren (S.C.) High told SEC Country, “I’m committed to South Carolina. It’s exciting, but I can’t wait to come to the (Gamecocks) game Saturday versus Missouri.”
Rich, who camped at Tennessee this summer, holds offers from Duke, Appalachian State and Mercer, among others, committing to USC on May 27. The nation’s No. 23 duel-threat quarterback has 28 total touchdowns this season.
After signing 4-star quarterbacks Sheriron Jones, Quinten Dormady and Jarret Guarantano in the last two classes, Tennessee has struggled to fill its lone spot in 2017. The Volunteers have missed on top-targets Hunter Johnson, a former UT commit now headed to Clemson, Jack Spears (Duke commit) and N’Kosi Perry (Miami commit).
The search continues.