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.
Among the most common misconceptions in the recruiting world is that prospects pick a school based on specific wins and losses.
They don’t. They see the bigger picture. They understand — in a vacuum — 60 minutes of football usually don’t change the outlook of a program.
Had Tennessee lost to Florida on Saturday, 5-star target Trey Smith wasn’t going to suddenly eliminate the Volunteers.
And yet … having said all that … the atmosphere Saturday won’t be duplicated in Neyland Stadium for a long, long time. Several staffers used the word “unbelievable” to describe UT’s 38-28 win.
Over 100 prospects, including guys like Smith and fellow 5-stars Lamont Wade and Micah Parsons, witnessed history, as Tennessee snapped an 11-year losing streak to Florida with an epic comeback.
The Volunteers proved they’re truly nationally relevant again. So what did those in attendance think of the crazy game?
I asked (and scoured Twitter) for the best reactions from a bunch of top prospects who were there. Here’s what they said.
* 2018 Coffee County athlete Alontae Taylor (Tennessee commit): “It was crazy. Going into it we were expecting a pretty good environment. The first half we struggled a little bit, couldn’t catch the ball. The atmosphere was still in the game but not as hyped as it was in the second half. Coming out, to see how crazy the fans are and seeing how Neyland can be. How loud it can be. Not only the fans, but the recruits. They were just as hyped as everybody.”
* 2018 Harrison (Ga.) quarterback Justin Fields: “It was a great game. I liked the way they kept fighting and made adjustments after halftime to win.”
* 2017 Albany (La.) cornerback Cheyenne Labruzza (Tennessee commit): “The game was great. It was a big win. We never game up and that shows resiliency.”
— princetonfant (@pfant12) September 25, 2016
* 2017 Warren County offensive tackle K’Rojhn Calbert: “The game was pretty awesome except for the first half. It was tough to sit through, but I knew they’d make a comeback because this year they’ve been a second half team. Things started clicking and the offensive scheme was working. Happy they pulled out the win.”
* 2018 Shelby (N.C.) linebacker Dax Hollifield: “It was a great. I thought the game was awesome.”
Tennessee vs Florida was the most hype game I've ever been to
— Christian Armstrong™ (@kvng_ca) September 25, 2016
* 2019 Independence High receiver Kendrell Scurry (Tennessee commit): “It was insane.”
— Derek Tyson (@DerekTysonESPN) September 25, 2016
* 2019 Grayson (Ga.) cornerback Kenyatta Watson: “The best college football environment I’ve ever seen.”
* 2018 Tampa Tech (Fla.) quarterback Michael Penix: “It was exciting.”
Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee ??
— TreintaOcho Salvaje® (@Goony_38) September 24, 2016
* 2017 Roswell (Ga.) offensive tackle Jordan Tucket (Tennessee commit): “For my first game, it was the best experience I’ve ever had. I love all the Vol fans and my future teammates because we have already built relationships with each other. … We were trying to recruit everyone from Trey Smith to Deangelo Gibbs.”
— Coach K Watson (@therealkwat) September 25, 2016
* 2017 Kell (Ga.) linebacker Solon Page III: “Great win! Had me scared for a little bit in the first half, but the boys got it together in the second half and put it on’em. That’s a sign of a great team right there.”
* 2017 West Monroe (La.) tailback Trey Coleman: “It was a heck of an experience. The crowd was live. Great to see some Tennessee football.”
It's great to to be a Tennessee Vol?
— KODAK Gray™ (@GrayMaleik) September 25, 2016
* 2018 Riverdale defensive tackle D’Andre Litaker: “That was absolutely the best game I’ve ever been to.”
— chase rogers (@ChaseARogers) September 25, 2016
Top-100 receiver, twin brother can’t make trip
Yoakum (Texas) receiver Joshua Moore recently told me Tennessee was his leader and he planned to visit Knoxville for the Florida game. The 4-star wideout holds more than 30 offers and sits highly on Tennessee’s 2018 board. Moore’s twin brother, Jordan Moore, a 4-star safety, was also going to attend the game on Saturday, but their weekend plans changed when a family member got sick.
Joshua said they let Tennessee know and the twins rescheduled the trip and will attend the Alabama game on Oct. 15.