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.
Not too many questions this week.
Maybe everyone is too nervous for Saturday?
I do this every Thursday, so please submit any questions for future mailbags on Twitter (@JesseReSimonton), email (email@example.com), in the comment section below or on our Tennessee Insiders Facebook page.
Let’s get to it.
Jason asks: What are the Vols recruiting plans for OL prospects over the next 3 years?
Well, they’re certainly not ignoring the position like Derek Dooley did — that’s for sure.
Tennessee already has a pair of offensive line commits for 2017: 3-stars Riley Locklear from West Virginia and Jordan Tucker from Georgia. The Volunteers are the favorites to land 5-star offensive tackle Trey Smith (University School), too.
Locklear is a 6-foot-5, 290-pound versatile athlete who could play as many as four positions at Tennessee. Tucker is huge (6-6, 340), while Smith is considered among the “can’t miss dudes” in the country.
That’s a nice haul, and the Volunteers want more.
Ideally, Tennessee would like to sign four OL prospects this cycle, so keep an eye on guys like K’Rojhn Calbert, who I profiled this week, T.J. Moore and Chuck FIlliaga. Jedrick Willis is a longshot target, too.
In 2018, the Vols already have a commit in 5-star tackle Cade Mays, a hometown kid at Knoxville Catholic. Tennessee is also heavily pursuing 4-star tackle Emil Ekiyor from Cathedral High in Indianapolis and 4-star guard Jalil Irvin from Stephenson High in Georgia. Ekiyor will be on campus this weekend for the Florida game, while Irvin visited for the win over Ohio.
As for 2019, Tennessee has already dished out five offers, including targeting Locklear’s teammate at Spring Valley High: tackle Doug Nester, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound sophomore.
Jason asks: So if we miss on Fields who is next?
Honestly, that would be a nightmare scenario for Tennessee. But no need to jump to end-of-the-world conclusions just yet.
2018 quarterback Justin Fields had a great visit to Tennessee last weekend. The talented duel-threat quarterback told me he wasn’t ready to name a leader just yet, but many believe the Volunteers are among his preferred schools. Make no mistake, after falling short in the sweepstakes for 5-stars Trevor Lawrence and Emory Jones, Tennessee needs to land its newest top quarterback target.
If Fields opts to head to Penn State or North Carolina, the Volunteers would turn much of their attention toward Tampa Bay Tech quarterback Michael Penix. The 3-star prospect holds a UT offer and will visit this weekend for the Florida game.
Richard asks: Most important recruits visiting this weekend?
Tough question … mainly because so many top prospects will be in town Saturday. I’ll have a long list on Friday, so check back at SEC Country. If I had to pick five (in order) they’d be:
1. Trey Smith. As mentioned above, the 5-star tackle is Tennessee biggest remaining fish in the Class of 2017.
2. Lamont Wade. The 5-star cornerback from Clairton (Penn.) High is high on the Volunteers and would add some extra star power to the 2017 class.
3. Malik Vann. The 4-star defensive end from Fairfield, Ohio continues to take a liking to Tennessee. He attended the “Battle at Bristol” and then swung by UT before heading home. Vann would be a huge get for the 2018 class.
4. Joshua Moore. The Top-100 receiver recently told me Tennessee was his leader. Whether that’s totally true or not remains to be seen, but the 4-star prospect from Texas certainly holds the Volunteers in high regard and has a close relationship with 2018 UT commit Alontae Taylor.
5. Owen Pappoe. Yes, a sophomore recruit. Pappoe is already a standout at Grayson — a powerhouse program in Georgia. The outside linebacker is the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2019. Tennessee ranks among his early leaders, too.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for the questions.