Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee and what it’s doing about the new recruiting calendar.
Coaches have been going about the recruiting cycle in a totally different way this season. The NCAA implemented an early signing period for all high school prospects to take part in.
Prospects can commit to schools for a 72-hour period beginning Dec. 20.
The Vols began altering their recruiting timeline once the decision came out in May. Coach Butch Jones talked on Wednesday about how recruiting is different this cycle.
“We have a plan in place in terms of the early signing date,” Jones said. “It has changed a lot of things in terms of official visits. It’s kind of changed the nature of recruiting. We’ve had a lot of in-season official visits. We’ll continue to have that. We’ve had more unofficial visitors than we’ve had in the past. That’ll be ongoing. Obviously, the first part of December, we’ll host a number of official visits as well.”
The Vols have certainly pushed for the more visits during the season.
Some fans criticized Tennessee for hosting so many visits for the Georgia game on Sept. 30. It was the worst Tennessee loss in Neyland Stadium, where the Bulldogs won 41-0.
The Vols hosted top prospects Jerome Carvin, Caleb Johnson and Jeshaun Jones. These are uncommitted prospects Tennessee is most likely to land, too.
Commits Shocky Jacques-Louis and Adrian Martinez also took their official visits on the Georgia weekend. Other commits such as Jaycee Horn and Trey Dean took unofficial visits that weekend.
The game was, of course, ugly, but it was important to get the visits in early. It was the biggest home game of the season for Tennessee. The recruits were able to see probably the largest crowd at Neyland this season, the fans color-schemed to checker the stands and the Smokey Gray uniforms.
Tennessee might have waited until later in the season for the LSU or Vanderbilt games to bring in its top targets. This season is different, though.
“The time frame and the timeline has really changed,” Jones said. “A lot of things have changed the dynamics of recruiting this year.”
The normal signing day will be on Feb. 4.
How else it affects Tennessee
An interesting wrinkle to the early signing period will be how coaching searches affect the commitments.
For instance, wide receiver commit Alontae Taylor has been committed to Tennessee since the summer of 2016. He has talked with other schools most of that time but has always firmly stated he is a Tennessee commit.
If Tennessee were to fire Jones, as the rumors mount that he likely must win out to keep his job, how would that affect Taylor?
Would he choose to go to the school he had been committed to for a year and a half? Would he choose to play for a new coaching staff that only had time to talk with him for a few weeks at most?
No one is sure how exactly the early signing period will affect how coaching searches are done. Tennessee looks like it is possibly on the brink of one, though.
The interim coaching staff will have to try to keep the class together, and the new staff will have an incredibly short amount of time to build relationships.
Cade Mays visit
Tennessee’s best and longest-tenured commit — offensive tackle Cade Mays — will visit another school this weekend.
Mays has quietly opened his recruitment back up, and Clemson is jumping into the mix. He will take an unofficial visit to the campus this weekend. The Tigers will face Georgia Tech.
This will be an interesting visit to watch. Clemson really seems to be the only school with a shot at swaying Mays. If the unofficial goes well, then the Tigers might have a legitimate shot.
Mays has an official visit lined up for Nov. 18, when Clemson takes on the Citadel.
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