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 how fans should feel about National Signing Day and the Class of 2018.
Perspective on class
The dust has begun to settle on National Signing Day. Tennessee’s class has pretty much taken shape and now it is time to reflect on how everything went.
There were some moments of “the sky is falling” from the fan base on Wednesday. I understand where this was coming from, and I’ll dive into that in a little bit later.
The truth is, the Class of 2018 was a success for Tennessee.
The Vols finished with the 20th-rated class in the country and eighth best in the SEC, according to the 247Sports composite team rankings.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt had about two months to piece together a class. He expanded the recruiting base and cut ties with a number of commits to the former staff.
Pruitt was still able to land a few prospects who will contribute next season.
Tennessee picked up linebacker JJ Peterson, who can be a cornerstone of the defense moving forward. Defensive tackle Emmit Gooden could start next season and anchor the line. Defensive end Greg Emerson has first-round NFL draft potential. Wide receiver Alontae Taylor was one of the most sought-after athletes in the class.
There are a number of 3-star prospects who could turn into something special down the line as well.
Quarterback JT Shrout would benefit from a redshirt season and a few more years of seasoning. He could be the pro-style signal caller of the future. Defensive end John Mincey has a 6-foot-5 frame to go along with solid athleticism. Offensive guard Ollie Lane needs to work on his pass protection; if he does, then he could be a three- or four-year starter.
There is plenty of good in the class.
To add in a little more perspective, former coach Butch Jones finished with the 25th-rated overall class and 11th best in the SEC in his first recruiting class.
This class will be remembered as one that gives the Vols a couple of key contributors and probably not much else. The time to judge the coaching staff on recruiting will come in the next cycle.
National Signing Day was a flop
All that being said, National Signing Day was pretty bad.
The Vols missed out on every top prospect they were pursuing. Often finishing second with them, but “close but no cigar” can only appease a fan base so much.
Linebacker Quay Walker, who was a Tennessee lean last week, acted like he was putting on a Tennessee hat, only to throw it off and pick up Georgia’s.
Jacob Copeland, Eddie Smith and Olaijah Griffin all chose to play elsewhere. Copeland (Florida) and Smith (Alabama) went to teams the Vols face every season.
Anthony Grant and Jordan Young both flipped their Tennessee commitments to other schools.
People following recruiting closely probably expected most, if not all, of these things to happen. Still, after the excitement of the early signing period, there was some hope for a few good surprises.
The 2018 National Signing Day will be one Tennessee fans will like to soon forget.
Now time for 2019
Tennessee will immediately turn its attention to the Class of 2019. In fact, Pruitt mentioned at his press conference on Wednesday the process actually began a few weeks ago.
There are some things to like and dislike from the Class of 2018.
The Class of 2019 will be the true test for Pruitt and this coaching staff. There will be 14 months to build the class and make it something special.
The class can go a long way in making or breaking Pruitt’s tenure with the Vols.
In case you miss any of the post-National Signing Day coverage on SEC Country.
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