Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly mailbag, a question-and-answer forum between readers and Tennessee team and recruiting reporter Blake Morgan. In this edition, we discuss what Tennessee’s final number will be in the Class of 2018, who are some linebacker targets, and the surprising Class of 2017.
To submit a question for Blake, send a message to @BlakeMorganSEC on Twitter or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have 23 2018 commits, how many more can we have this year? (Don Butcher – Facebook)
Tennessee has done a good job of using some recruiting gymnastics over the past few season under coach Butch Jones to fit different players into the class. Tennessee could certainly do some similar maneuvering in this class if the right prospects came along.
Right now, I think the most likely scenario will be the Vols bringing on two more players. One on offense — either at wide receiver or the offensive line — and one on defense — either at linebacker or the defensive line.
Jerome Carvin, an offensive lineman from Cordova, Tenn., is who I think the Vols will take on offense, though wide receiver Jeshaun Jones remains a possibility.
Linebacker Cam Jones, who is also from Cordova, might be the most likely get on the defensive side of the ball. The Vols backed off his recruitment over the summer, but have turned up the heat recently.
If Tennessee got both players and let’s say one of the best outside linebackers in the country like Rome, Ga., native Adam Anderson wanted to commit, then Butch Jones would find a way to make it work. My bet is on 25 players in the Class of 2018, though.
Who are some of the top linebackers that are on the Vols radar in recruiting 2018/2019? (DavidLMelton)
Tennessee has one commitment at the linebacker position in Matthew Flint. The Vols would be fine bringing only him into the class, but they are looking at a few other options.
As mentioned above, Cam Jones might be the most likely get on the defensive side of the ball right now.
Jones rates as a 3-star prospect and the No. 74 athlete in the class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Many places list Jones as an athlete because he plays both side of the ball and a few positions on defense, but he projects as a linebacker at the next level.
Adam Anderson would be the dream commitment for the Tennessee staff. Regardless of which service you look at, Anderson is one of the top outside linebackers in the class. His relentless pass rush could become a factor on a top SEC defense as early as next fall.
As far as the Class of 2019 goes, there isn’t anyone Tennessee has completely turned up the heat on, so to speak. That might have a lot to do with the fact that the in-state crop of linebackers isn’t a great one.
So the Vols will likely have to look out of state to fill their linebacking needs.
Prospects like King Mqikuta from Lagrange, Ga., or Kevin Harris from Loganville, Ga., could come to the forefront of the recruiting for Tennessee soon, though.
I did not think the 2017 class graded out too well but saw recently where we had about 8-10 players on the preseason all-freshman squads (1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams). Was the class better than thought? Are there a lot of redshirts in there? (Jeff Person, Memphis, Tenn.)
The Class of 2017 certainly came in as Butch Jones’ least heralded haul in his tenure at Tennessee.
Running backs Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan have shown flashes early, particularly Chandler, who returned the opening kickoff 91 yards against Indiana State last Saturday. They both will factor more into the offense as the season moves along.
Wide receiver Josh Palmer has gotten more playing time than most people expected heading into the season. This has something to do with Jauan Jennings and Josh Smith being injured, but expect Palmer to play plenty of snaps against Florida this week.
Linebacker Will Ignont will join in the rotation sooner rather than later, I suspect.
I don’t know how many redshirts there will in the class, but probably less than what many expected on signing day last February. This is partly due to the fact Tennessee doesn’t have much depth at many key positions, but also a number of freshmen have outperformed their star rating.
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