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.
Tennessee’s rousing rally over Florida last Saturday starred a host of Volunteer State products, including Derek Barnett, Jalen Hurd, Todd Kelly Jr., Jauan Jennings and Josh Malone.
According to Butch Jones, the “Tennessee kids” serve as the foundation of UT’s resurgence into national relevancy, but at the center of the Volunteers rebuild is quarterback Josh Dobbs — a Georgia native.
While in-state recruiting is vital for Jones & Co., the Peach State — especially Atlanta — remains a fertile pipeline for Tennessee to mine top-shelf talent.
The No. 11 Volunteers could start six Georgia natives on Saturday in Athens: Dobbs, tailback Alvin Kamara, safety Micah Abernathy, freshman cornerback Baylen Buchanan, tight end Jason Croom and kick returner Evan Berry. Linebacker Cortez McDowell, a Locust Grove product, will play a ton, too. Of course, Cam Sutton would be listed here if he weren’t sidelined with a serious ankle injury.
Under Jones, Tennessee has won some recruiting battles over the in-state Bulldogs — most notably 4-star safety Nigel Warrior, 4-star receiver Preston Williams and 4-star safety Micah Abernathy. But the Volunteers have also benefited from poaching some prospects UGA didn’t really recruit — guys like Sutton and McDowell.
The Peach State has become such a hot-bed for blue-chip recruits, Georgia simply can’t keep’em all, so programs like Tennessee are swooping in and grabbing more than just the leftovers.
For the Class of 2017, the Vols already have five commits from Georgia: linebackers Solon Page III (Kell), Jaquan Henderson (Newton) and Mo Burnam (Salem). They also landed offensive lineman Jordan Tucker (Roswell) and defensive end Marquez Bembry.
They’re looking for more, too.
Here are some uncommitted Peach State targets in the Classes of ’17, ’18 and ’19.
* 4-star safety DeAngelo Gibbs (Grayson)
* 4-star receiver Jeremiah Holloman (Newton)
* 4-star defensive end Malik Herring (Mary Persons)
* 4-star safety Xavier McKinney (Roswell)
* 3-star cornerback Yusuf Corker (Woodland)
* 3-star quarterback Justin Fields (Harrison)
* 3-star tailback Jaylnn Sykes (Rome)
* 4-star offensive tackle Christian Armstrong (Warner Robins)
* 5-star guard Jamaree Salyer (Pace Academy)
* 4-star guard Jalil Irvin (Stephenson)
* 5-star defensive end Justin Mascoll (South Gwinnett)
* 5-star cornerback Derrik Allen (Lassiter)
* 4-star cornerback Christian Tutt (Thomson)
* 3-star athlete Richard Jibunor (Athens Christian)
* 5-star receiver Jashawn Sheffield (Frederica Academy)
* 5-star receiver Dominick Blaylock (Walton)
* 4-star linebacker Charles Thomas (Langston Hughes)
* 5-star linebacker Owen Pappoe (Grayson)
* (unranked) athlete Jaylin Simpson (Frederica Academy)
* (unranked) safety Kenyatta Watson II (Grayson)
* (unranked) safety Jaylen McCollough (Hillgrove)