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. Today, we discuss 4-star athlete Alontae Taylor, who updates his commitment status after making his first trip to Knoxville since the Vols’ staff shakeup.
Tennessee 4-star athlete commit Alontae Taylor has sure given Vols fans something to worry about over the last month.
Although Taylor has been committed to Tennessee since June of last year, his primary recruiter, former receivers coach Zach Azzanni, is no longer with the program. While his departure didn’t result in Taylor directly softening his commitment to the Vols as it did for 2019 commits T.J. Sheffield and Kendrell Scurry, it definitely spurned an interest from other schools — namely South Carolina, Georgia, LSU and, more recently, Alabama.
Taylor visited South Carolina at the end of March and then followed up with a visit to Georgia the following weekend. This weekend, he plans to head to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to visit the Crimson Tide, which hasn’t offered him yet. But sandwiched in between all those visits was his most recent, his first trip to Knoxville since the Vols’ first junior day, before Kevin Beard had been hired as Azzanni’s replacement. And that visit might’ve been enough to keep him firmly planted with Tennessee.
“I’d say 100 percent, to be honest with you,” Taylor told SEC Country of his commitment status with the Vols after his visit. “With those schools like Georgia and South Carolina and Alabama and LSU, it’s not going to just take me to come up there and visit and then get a good vibe from it and flip me. I’ve built a really great relationship. I understand coach Z and all of them are gone, but just with the university itself, I have a really good relationship there.”
When it comes to Taylor, the “vibe” of a school goes a long way on visits. When discussing his visits to the other schools he’s taken over the last month, he said he just wanted to see “what kind of vibe” the school has and “how I’ve felt around the coaching staff.” Tennessee put both of those things at the top of their priorities for Taylor on Sunday and it paid off big time.
“When I walked on campus, I was kind of seeing if that feeling was still there, the same feeling I had when coach [Azzanni] was there,” Taylor said. “The feeling was the same and maybe even a little bit better. I was just really pumped up to see coach Beard and he was the first coach that I came in contact with whenever I came into the facility so that was great.”
The relationship with Beard was probably the most important aspect of the visit. While the two have spoken over the phone, this was their first chance to meet face-to-face. Beard emphasized the Vols’ need for good receivers in the next class, but spent most of his time with Taylor focusing on off-the-field stuff.
“We was talking about life and talking about family, like building that relationship other than just talking about football, things like that,” Taylor said. “I watched practice and he was telling me things that the guys were doing and talking about the great group of players that we have at wideout and how were were going to be a little short at receiver and things.”
When Taylor wasn’t getting face time with Beard, he was spending time with head coach Butch Jones talking about the offense.
All in all, the weekend was a huge win for the Vols in keeping Taylor committed. While he will be in Alabama over the weekend, he’s already planning on making one last trip to Knoxville for the Orange and White game on April 22 before his spring football season. That visit will likely be the last unofficial visit that Taylor takes, barring a potential visit to LSU that he wasn’t able to fit into his schedule.
Having Taylor completely on board for that visit is a huge recruiting gain in itself for Tennessee, because several of the Vols’ highest targets are likely to be in attendance, which will give Taylor a chance to do a little recruiting of his own from the inside, something he hasn’t shied away from doing.
Vols miss out on Michigan-bound RB Christian Turner
After a standout performance at Nike’s “The Opening” Atlanta regional in late March, the recruiting momentum really picked up for 3-star Buford (Ga.) running back Christian Turner.
Turner told SEC Country then that the Vols were among his top schools, along with Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State and N.C. State. The plan was to use his spring break, which was last week, to visit the first three schools on that list before heading back down south and making a trip to Knoxville and N.C. State. But it looks like whatever Turner saw while in Ann Arbor, Mich. was enough and earned the Wolverines his commitment on Monday.
— Christian Turner (@_ChrisTurner28) April 10, 2017
Turner, the No. 30 running back and No. 47 player in Georgia, originally said he planned to be at Tennessee’s Orange and White game.
Turner had offers from 26 schools in total.
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