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.
Mission accomplished. Ty Chandler committed to Tennessee on Monday, addressing several key needs in a single swoop.
The announcement was a bit of a surprise, but perhaps it shouldn’t have been.
According to 247Sports, Chandler told Vols coaches of his intentions last Friday before publicly revealing his decision in a Facebook Live session. In hindsight, maybe some clues already were there.
During Tennessee’s annual Media Day last Saturday, I asked tailbacks assistant and recruiting coordinator Robert Gillespie how he planned on splitting touches between dangerous duo Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara.
He responded with a roundabout answer before saying, “The better backs come from really good running back groups. In this league, you can’t do it by yourself. You name the best backs, they come from a stable of guys where they’re pushed everyday in practice. When one guy comes out there’s another guy who keeps the offense moving down the field. Everybody thinks they want to be the only guy, but when you’re the only guy, how do you get through practice? How do you get through a game when you need to come out for a breather? How do you keep the defense off balance? Both of those guys are mature to see that they can co-exist together, which is good because now John Kelly was able to see that.”
Then he delivered, obviously in hindsight, a major clue.
“So John is like, ‘OK coach, who is the next guy you’re going to bring in here to be the guy to help me. Who is going to be the next guy we recruit to come in and we’re able to recruit a couple guys and say hey, both of you guys can come in and exist together. You need each other. Like I said, all the backfields in the country, name another backfield that had two running backs over 1,000 all-purpose yards. It ain’t many. That’s the thing we’re able to show. It’s not just talk with us. We can put you guys in situations, both you guys, all you guys, can make plays.”
Tennessee already had a tailback commitment, as West Monroe standout Trey Coleman joined the #GBO family during ‘Orange Carpet Weekend.’ The 3-star back is among the more underrated prospects in the country, and Tennessee has paired him with one of the most elite recruits in the nation.
Coleman was excited about Chandler’s decision and the 5-foot-11, 203-pound grinder isn’t afraid of a little competition, either.
“Whatever makes the team better to get a ring that’s all I care about,” he told SEC Country.
“I’m going to work hard enough to play, that’s all that matters.”
That’s music to Gillespie’s ears, who told a story about how seamlessly Hurd and Kamara work in tandem.
“You never know when you’re going to get the call,” he said.
“I think about the third down we ran against Kentucky last year where Jalen caught a screen and zig-zagged across the field for a touchdown. Alvin had worked that play all week, but there was no way in the world on third-and-9 was I going to pull Jalen out and put Alvin in and everyone in the stands say, ‘Guess what’s about to happen.’ So Jalen has to be able to do those plays and he can.”
The Vols hope Kelly, Chandler and Coleman can have a similar effect in 2017.
Georgia trio make a return trip
Top-100 prospects Jeremiah Holloman (Newton High, Ga.) and DeAngelo Gibbs (Grayson High, Ga.) will visit UT for Saturday’s scrimmage. Vols linebacker commit Jaquan Henderson, Holloman’s teammate at Newton, also will be in attendance.
Georgia Boys headed to UTK this weekend ??? pic.twitter.com/f8ke3h4Gkn
— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) August 17, 2016
Holloman is a major Tennessee target, and the 6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver continues to list the Vols among his top schools along with Georgia and Miami. The nation’s No. 11 wideout had a whale of a season-opener Thursday night:
2 TDS, 1 punt block, 1 Tackle, and a 60 yard punt ???
— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) August 19, 2016
Meanwhile, Gibbs, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive back, will make his first trip to Tennessee in more than six months. Once considered a UT-lock, Gibbs is trending heavily with the in-state Bulldogs ever since his cousin J.R. Reed transferred to UGA from Tulsa over the summer.
Tennessee cornerback commit Cheyenne Labruzza told SEC Country he will take his official visit for the Florida game Sept. 24.
But for now, he’s got more important things to worry about.
The Albany, La., native lives about 30 minutes from Baton Rouge, and the devastating flood affected many of his high school teammates.
Labruzza, a 3-star prospect who chose the Vols over LSU, said his home was not damaged, but sadly, many of his friends and teammates “lost everything.”
The cornerback is unsure if his high school will play its opener Sept. 2, and for now is focused on the local relief effort.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com