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 coach Jeremy Pruitt and the big weekend for official visits.
Tennessee finds its man in Jeremy Pruitt
Tennessee’s coaching search came to an end with Jeremy Pruitt on Thursday. He will immediately hit the ground running on the recruiting trail for the Vols.
He is known as a strong recruiter. Pruitt also has deep Alabama connections, so expect the Vols to begin pulling in recruits from the region. Pruitt left his news conference Thursday night to begin calling recruits. He will, however, coach Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
“The first thing is I’m going to go back to why I got in this business,” he said. “I got in this business for the kids. I work for the University of Tennessee. I’m all in for the University of Tennessee. Until the dead period, we’re going to recruit, I’m going to work as the head football coach at the University of Tennessee and we’re going to do the best that we can to start going in the right direction.”
Pruitt showed a lot of energy in his opening news conference. It’s easy to see why he’s so successful with recruiting.
Official visits lined up
Tennessee is set to host a number of top commits this weekend. There was some worry about not having a coach in place in time to recruit the prospects. Pruitt’s hiring on Thursday prevents the Vols from having to scramble to reschedule the visits.
The most important visitor this weekend is athlete Alontae Taylor. The former Tennessee commit and 4-star prospect in the 247Sports composite has been one of the hottest names on the recruiting trail the last few months.
Taylor’s recruitment is likely coming down between Tennessee and Georgia. The key might be if Pruitt sees Taylor as a wide receiver or defensive back at the next level. Georgia is giving him the option to play both positions, but I think the Bulldogs view him more as a corner.
If Tennessee keeps its offer to Taylor as a wide receiver then I think he’ll end up on Rocky Top. The Vols struggled with wide receiver depth this season and currently don’t have a wideout committed. Taylor could see time at wide receiver if Pruitt thinks that’s his best fit with the team.
Greg Emerson will also be taking his official visit. Emerson has been the most vocal commit about his unwavering support to Tennessee. It’s a positive he gets to come to campus to meet the new coaching staff and see how he meshes with them.
Emerson won’t be anywhere but Tennessee next season. He brings a ton of brute force at 6-foot-3, 280-pounds on the defensive line to a position group that has largely underperformed the last few seasons.
Cornerback Brandon Cross and linebacker Matthew Flint will both make their way to Knoxville, as well. Cross has held firm in his commitment Tennessee through the coaching change. Flint has kept very silent, but he seems solidly committed.
Cornerback Tanner Ingle has said he is still committed to Tennessee but has “opened his recruitment” to other schools. I wouldn’t consider him a commit right now unless he quickly brings his attention back to Tennessee. If Ingle is out of the picture then Cross is the only cornerback currently committed. Pruitt’s strength is defensive backs, so the lack of commits could change soon.
The Vols will also host punter Paxton Brooks. He has had a quiet recruitment after committing in August. Brooks has big shoes to fill from Day 1 with Trevor Daniel moving on from college.
Vols become immediate contender for top wide receiver
Pruitt has made an impact in recruiting before even picking up the phone and calling a prospect. Class of 2018 wide receiver Jacob Copeland has Tennessee now at the top of his list.
Tennessee is officially one of my TOP selected schools that I'll highly be looking into. 🍊✊🏾 #DOM1N8
— Jacob Copeland 🐐 (@JCope1era) December 7, 2017
The former Florida commit is impressed with Pruitt and it’s not a unique thought to have.
Copeland is ranked as the No. 10 wide receiver in the country. Pruitt could begin to bring in a high level of recruits to Rocky Top.
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