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.
It’s mailbag time.
Lots of good questions this week.
I do this every Thursday, so please submit any questions for future mailbags on Twitter (@JesseReSimonton), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), in the comment section below or on our Tennessee Insiders Facebook page.
Let’s get to it.
Corey asks: Who is the top 5 2018 Mid TN state recruits for us and what high school they go to?
I broke down Tennessee’s 2018 in-state board recently in an extended piece, but the cliff notes version: The class is stacked with defensive line talent and the Volunteers stand a good chance of keeping many of the top prospects at home.
Five to watch?
* 4-star defensive end Greg Emerson from North Side. Could be an Ole Miss-Tennessee battle — ala Drew Richmond several years ago
* 4-star defensive tackle Brant Lawles, a Nashville Christian School product
* 4-star Oakland defensive tackle D’Andre Litaker
* 4-star cornerback Jaylon King from Ensworth High
* 3-star receiver Jarak Campbell, a Riverdale High precut
Two other names to keep an eye: Brentwood teammates Camron Johnson, a 4-star receiver with eight offers already, and quarterback/tight end Gavin Schoenwald, a 4-star prospect.
Sandy asks: So what was the impact from Battle at Bristol?
Universally positive, Sandy. For one thing, every recruit that I talked to simply gushed about the experience. Tennessee commits Cj Lewis, a 2017 quarterback from Connecticut, and offensive tackle Riley Locklear, a West Virginia product, had a blast, calling the night “unforgettable.”
— Riley Locklear™ (@LocklearRiley) September 11, 2016
Vols 2019 receiver commit Kendrell Scurry told me he had “an outstanding time,” too.
As for the lasting impact, Tennessee was in the national spotlight all day with the epic circumstances. It started in the morning with ESPN’s College GameDay and continued until the primetime game on ABC. Nearly 166,000 fans attended the event and millions watched on TV.
That’s easy exposure for the Volunteers.
Although a ton of kids couldn’t make the trip (mainly because it was tough to get to), many who did ended up swinging through Knoxville before heading home. Top target Trey Smith, a 5-star offensive tackle, visited UT on Sunday, as did Scurry and 2018 defensive end Malik Vann, a 4-star prospect from Ohio.
The one oddity about Bristol — as a Tennessee staff member mentioned to me this week — is that even though the event was essentially a home game for the Vols (roughly 70 percent of the stadium was filled by orange-clad fans), Tennessee could not have any direct contact with recruits during the visit.
Clint asks: What high school recruits that are committed to other schools are Tennessee still pursuing?
The “flip” question is tough at this point, Clint, mainly because Tennessee’s 2017 class is nearly full. I’ve said it a million times, but the Volunteers won’t stop recruiting 5-star wideout Tee Higgins, a Clemson pledge, until the ink is dry.
But putting aside pipedream scenarios (sorry, real talk though), a legit flip candidate is 4-star offensive lineman T.J. Moore.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound guard from North Carolina was considered a Tennessee-lean before committing to South Carolina in August. The Volunteers haven’t stopped recruiting Moore, and will continue to press for the Top250 prospect.
John asks: I have heard CBJ and staff are really making an impression on recruits through constant contact. Do you feel the staff at UT is taking more advantage of the new social media rules than other teams?
Tennessee is very organized when it comes to maintaining constant contact with prospects — via social media or snail mail.
Earlier this summer, Butch Jones emphatically embraced the new social media rules, saying, “We’re going to use it.”
Obviously, Jones garnered attention when he hit the RT button a zillion times on the first day, too.
The Vols are certainly taking advantage, but the social media game isn’t the be-all, end-all in recruiting. It’s about relationships — however they formed, managed and massaged.
Remember, Nick Saban isn’t even on Twitter.
Jordan asks: If 2, 3, or even 4 blue-chip recruits decide UT will be their next home, how will that work? Not counting Trey Smith, who are a couple big recruits you think we can get?
Tennessee’s numbers are tight. That’s just simple math. The Volunteers have 24 commits and want to sign between 25-26. Could they oversign for a blue-chip recruit? Sure, but that causes ripples down the rest of the roster.
The big thing to remember is National Signing Day is still more than five months away. A lot can, and will, change. Tennessee constantly evaluates its own recruits, as well as other available prospects.
As for some highly-touted recruits that could wind up a Vol?
Not counting Smith, Tennessee is heavily in the mix with 5-star cornerback Lamont Wade, 4-star defensive end Matthew Butler, 4-star receiver Jaylen Harris and 4-star offensive tackle Chuck Filiaga. I also mentioned T.J. Moore as an option earlier, and don’t forget about 5-star tailback Cam Akers and 4-star wideout Jeremiah Holloman.
That’s it for this week’s mailbag. As always, thanks for the questions.