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.
The historic “Battle at Bristol” on Saturday night will house over 150,000 (sauced, screaming, sunny) fans, but what recruits plan to attend the Tennessee-Virginia Tech showdown?
ESPN first reported that 5-star offensive tackle Trey Smith — Tennessee’s white whale in the Class of 2017 —“plans” to attend the game Saturday.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound prospect from University School already scheduled visits to Tennessee for the Florida (Sept. 24) and Alabama (Oct. 15) games. As previously reported, Tennessee remains in good shape to land the 5-star recruit, as the Volunteers have slowly built a longstanding relationship with Smith and his family.
The Volunteers have sold their “lifetime legacy” to Smith, and offer an immediate opportunity to play early, too.
Furthermore, Smith’s older sister, Ashley, recently returned to Tennessee to work in the football offices after graduating from the school and working as a manager for Pat Summit’s Lady Vols.
Meanwhile, Tennessee commits Riley Locklear, a 3-star offensive lineman from Spring Valley (W. Va.), and Cj Lewis, a 3-star quarterback from Connecticut, will both make the trip to Bristol.
After a game Friday night, Locklear told me he’ll make the 3.5 hour drive on Saturday morning. Lewis, whose season has not started yet, plans to fly to the event with his parents.
Virginia Beach twins Breyon and Brandon Gaddy — Tennessee commits who were recruited by Va. Tech — originally hoped to be at Bristol but told me they cannot make the event due to a game on Saturday.
Earlier this summer, fellow 757 defensive tackle commit Eric Crosby said he would make the trip, but I couldn’t confirm Crobsy’s recent plans.
Tennessee’s lone 2019 commit Kendrell Scurry, a 4-star receiver, also told me he will attend Saturday’s spectacle.
Interestingly, recruits — commits or otherwise — cannot interact with coaches or players during the visit.
Both schools were allotted 3 total tickets for each prospective prospect, but the trip is not treated like an unofficial visit.
No field access. No locker room access. No contact.
As for a few other names planning to attend:
* 2019 Grayson (Ga.) High standouts Owen Pappoe, the No. 2 overall prospect in the class, and Kenyatta Watson, a 4-star cornerback. Both players hold Tennessee offers and are priority targets for the 2019 class.
* 4-star defensive end Stephen Herron Jr., a 2019 standout from Trinity (Ky.) High, told me he will be at Bristol. Herron is rated as the nation’s No. 15 prospect in 2019, earning a Tennessee offer in June.
* 3-star linebacker Dax Hollifield. The 2018 Shelby (N.C.) product holds a dozen offers including from both UT and Va. Tech.
* 4-star defensive end Malik Vann. The 2018 Fairfield (Ohio) High defensive end has 16 offers, including one from Tennessee.
* 3-star tailback Marcus Caldwell. Another 2018 prospect, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound North Carolina product holds offers from both Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
Tennessee offers LSU commit
On Wednesday, the Volunteers extended an offer to 3-star offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles.
blessed to receive an offer from the University of Tennessee ? pic.twitter.com/SfFqyQgHCK
— deathvalley – diq™ (@saahdiq) September 8, 2016
The 2017 prospect from Madison-Riceland Academy (Miss.) is ranked as the nation’s No. 19 offensive guard. Charles, who is 6-foot-5, 314-pounds, committed to the Tigers in May and is considered a strong LSU pledge, per SEC Country writer Sam Spiegelman.
However, the offer is noteworthy because it signals Tennessee still plans to add a potential fourth offensive lineman to its 2017 class.
Yes, spots are tight. But turnover could open up room for another offensive lineman in addition to Tennessee holding a spot (no matter what) for Smith.
We’ll see if Charles ends up ever visiting Knoxville, but the recent offer indicates Tennessee is not done looking at the position.
2018 DT earns offer
Junior defensive tackle Trevor Trout, a 4-star prospect from Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis, received a Tennessee offer on Wednesday.
Blessed to receive an offer from the University of Tennessee! pic.twitter.com/dZJmQBje6l
— Trevor Trout™ (@totaltroutmove) September 8, 2016
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound recruit is ranked as a Top247 prospect and already holds offers from a number of Power 5 programs including in-state Missouri, UCLA, Nebraska, Iowa and UCLA, among others.