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.
A week after decommitting from South Carolina, 4-star offensive guard T.J. Moore unofficially visited Tennessee on Saturday for the Alabama game.
The Mallard Creek (N.C.) product has long held an interest in the Volunteers, but he’d never been to an actual game before Saturday.
He was blown away.
“It was great,” Moore told me.
“Me and coach (Butch) Jones, we had a conversation before the game, and he wondered where I was at with my decision. I told him, me and the Volunteers have a great relationship. I really like the way they play. Their style of football. I like the way they coach. It was a great visit.”
The 6-foot-6, 280-pound guard committed to South Carolina over Tennessee on Aug. 1, but the Volunteers never stopped recruiting the right guard.
After Jordan Tucker recently reopened his recruitment, Mooore became an even higher priority for Big Orange.
On Saturday, the offensive lineman was able to spend some time with position coach Don Mahoney, who told him Tennessee “needs some more aggressive lineman and people who are just nasty. They want me to come in and just play.”
Moore said “nasty” describes his style, explaining that he’s “very physical.”
“I come off the ball hard,” he continued.
“I love to pull. I play mostly right guard, so I get to pull a lot and just go find people and let the running back read the holes.”
Moore tripped to Knoxville with his parents, and his entire family was in awe of the gameday atmosphere.
“Everyone enjoyed it,” he said.
“When we got to the ‘Vol Walk,’ I walked in with the players and everyone knew who I was. I recently decommited from South Carolina and everyone was like, ‘You need to be here T.J.’ I was just really surprised they knew who I was and they was calling my name. Talking to my family and asked how they were doing. That meant a lot.”
While Tennessee is in prime position to pounce for North Carolina’s No. 6 overall prospect, Moore isn’t in any rush to pick a program for a second time.
Tennessee will get an official visit, but Moore isn’t sure how the rest of his trips will shake out, saying Miami, Ole Miss, Florida State, Louisville and Colorado State are among those that have recently contacted him since his recruitment reopend.
“I’m just really taking visits. I want to take all five official visits,” he said.
“I just want to see what school best fits me. I’m not in a rush to hurry up and commit again because that’s why I made the wrong decision the first time when I hurried up and committed. I didn’t have everything together.”
Still, Moore likes what he sees at Tennessee, and although his dad prefers he redshirt, the 4-star recruit envisons a scenario he could play early for the Volunteers.
“My dad wants me to redshirt. I need to get a little bigger, but if I stay in the weight room, it depends on how it goes, during camp and preseason, but I do want to play early and really could (at Tennessee).
OT Jerry Drake Jr. talks official visit
South Florida offensive lineman Jerry Drake Jr. was one of five official visitors UT hosted over the weekend, and the 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive tackle caught up with SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan to recap his trip to Tennessee.
The 3-star tackle picked up an offer from the Volunteers at the end of September, as Tennessee continues to evaluate offensive line options.
The Palm Beach Gardens product recently took an official visit to South Carolina, too.
Drake talked positively about the trip to Knoxville, praising the environment and his initial impressions of Tennessee’s coaches.
“It was good. All that I saw, I liked it. Their campus is just crazy. It was like something that you’ve never seen before. They have so many fans; they had 50,000 just at the Vol Walk.
“They said how they needed me and coach Jones is a pretty cool guy. I ate dinner over at his house. I like coach Mahoney. He really seems like he knows what he’s talking about. He has a lot of history and stuff. He seemed like somebody who would correct me on something I do wrong.”
As previously noted, the Volunteers are looking for lineman. Drake is one of several offensive tackles Tennessee is targeting, along with 5-star Trey Smith, the big kahuna, 4-star California tackle Aaron Banks, LSU offensive line commit Saahdiq Charles and Army All-American Chuck Filiaga.
Vols extend offer to JUCO WR
The Volunteers extended an offer to junior college receiver Marquise Brown on Monday.
— Marquise Brown (@Primetime_jet) October 18, 2016
The Florida native attends the College of the Canyons Cougars in California, holding more than a dozen offers.
A 5-foot-11, 170-pound jitterbug, Brown is favorably compared to former Oregon receiver De’Anthony Thomas or current Georgia wideout Isaiah McKenzie.
The unranked prospect has 27 receptions for 474 yards and 7 touchdowns this season, adding a kickoff return touchdown and 34.3 yards a return.
Per reports, the playmaker has already set up official visits to Arizona State, Cal and West Virginia.
Tennessee currently has three receiver commits (Jordan Murphy, Jacquez Jones and Princeton Fant) and would like to add a fourth in its 2017 class.