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There’s a who’s who of highly touted prospects visiting Tennessee for the Alabama game on Saturday.
Every day, new names (like the ones below) keep popping up.
But even during a monster recruiting weekend, some prospects are simply more valuable (especially in a vacuum) than others.
The Volunteers will host a number of coveted 2018 and 2019 guys, but Saturday is a real chance to truly define their 2017 class, too.
So, with that in mind, here are my three most important visitors this weekend:
- Trey Smith. Duh. The 5-star offensive tackle is Tennessee’s top remaining target in the Class of 2017. After Saturday, Smith will have visited the Volunteers four times since August, taking in three games (Virginia Tech, Florida and Alabama) already this season. The blue-chip tackle is close with a number of Tennessee commits, including 2018 5-star offensive tackle Cade Mays. Smith’s recruitment isn’t over, but all signs point to the OT ultimately committing to the home-state team in December.
- Lamont Wade. The 5-star cornerback from Clairton (Pa.) will see Tennessee for the third time this season on Saturday. The Volunteers have plenty of momentum with Wade, but can they hold on two months away from a decision date? Wade’s official visit, and its lasting impact, could go a long way in determining whether Tennessee lands the top-50 prospect.
- Matthew Butler. The 3-star defensive end has quietly remained a major priority target for the Vols. Tennessee wants to add defensive line depth and the Garner (N.C.) standout fits the mold. Butler hopes to make a decision in the near future, and a good visit could make a lasting impression on the 6-foot-4, 265-pound prospect.
Yes, guys like Cam Akers, a 5-star tailback from Mississippi, and LaBryan Ray, a 4-star defensive end from Alabama, are highly coveted targets, but Tennessee has made major headway with the aforementioned trio, and Smith, Wade and Butler could go a long way in reshaping the Volunteers 2017 class.
Top 2018 DL making the trip
Maryland defensive tackle PJ Mustipher announced on Twitter his plans to take in the Tennessee-Alabama game on Saturday.
Tennessee this weekend!? #RockyTop
— Pj Mustipher (@KingPJ55) October 11, 2016
The 4-star prospect is ranked the No. 45 overall prospect in the Class of 2018.
Mustipher holds more than a dozen offers, and the 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle visited Tennessee last season for the Vanderbilt game.
Blue-chip linebacker visiting?
Alabama linebacker Will Ignot tweeted he planned to trip to Tennessee on Saturday. The 6-foot-2, 238-pound 4-star prospect from Buckhorn High is considered an Auburn lean, but the Volunteers continue to aggressively target blue-chip linebackers.
Rocky Top the move this weekend!
— RiP JiGG! (@WillIgnont) October 11, 2016
Ignot, the nation’s No. 8 middle linebacker, holds 23 offers and has never visited Tennessee for a game.