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The Vols already have running back commits Ty Chandler and Trey Coleman solidly in the fold for next season, but with only John Kelly and Carlin Fils-aime on the roster for spring practice, Tennessee wants to add a third tailback to its 2017 class.
With National Signing Day quickly approaching, the Vols are juggling four options, and at this point, it’s pretty much first to commit gets the spot.
ICYMI: The names are…
* 4-star Travis Etienne (Jennings, La.)
* 4-star Devan Barrett (Tampa Catholic, Fla.)
* 3-star Tim Jordan (Bartow, Fla.)
* 3-star Jonathan Lovett (Cherokee, N.J.)
Etienne visited Jan. 13, and this past weekend Tennessee welcomed Barrett and Jordan. Lovett is tentatively scheduled to be on campus next weekend.
So where do things stand?
Etienne tripped to Clemson over the weekend, but the sources continue to believe LSU is the ultimate destination for the blue-chip runner. He will visit Baton Rouge this weekend.
Barrett is a longtime Auburn commit, but Tennessee’s persistence got the top-200 player back on campus for a final look. Although he enjoyed his time at Tennessee, the Tigers commit said he’s still “pretty solid” to Auburn.
“I’ve always had my recruiting process open. I’m just looking around,” he explained.
“Tennessee is a great school. I’m still open. I never know what’s going to happen. I’m just thinking.”
He later added, “I just (want) to keep my options open. Just to see what’s out there for me. I can’t just commit to one school. I’m just open-minded. Just want to have all my options open.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound tailback has maintained consistent communication with Vols assistant Larry Scott, who was promoted to offensive coordinator on Friday. Barrett visited Tennessee over the summer and Scott convinced him to return since they “talk almost every day.”
“He’s been telling me about the place and how great it is,” Barrett said. “Everything he said was true. They have stayed with me every since they offered. That’s big when it comes to recruiting to see what schools really want you.”
Still, Barrett acknowledged that while he “really likes it here,” it would take “a lot” for him to flip. He’s going to Indiana next weekend for another official visit and said Auburn’s recent offensive coordinator change isn’t a concern to him.
He scheduled to host Gus Malzahn, Tim Horton and new OC Chip Lindsey in-home on Tuesday. Barrett also will visit with Tennessee coaches Scott, Butch Jones and tailbacks coach Robert Gillespie at his school.
“I talk to Coach Malzahn and they said they still have the same playbook,” he said. “I would fit in the same way in the offense they are running.
“It would take a lot (to flip). I’ve been up to Auburn many times. I love it up there. I have people up there. Stuff like that. It would take a lot.”
What about Jordan?
The recent Western Kentucky de-commit took an OV to North Carolina on Jan. 13, and the 3-star tailback has narrowed his choices down to the Vols and the Tar Heels after his Tennessee visit.
Jordan no longer will go to Purdue next weekend, and anticipates making an announcement “next week.”
The Sunshine State tailback tripped to Tennessee for the first time, and the Vols delivered a strong impression.
“I liked the environment. It was real big. I liked how the coaches and players got along. Everybody bonded real good. It was like a family,” he said.
“It was mind-blowing and big. It’s a lot to take in.”
The 5-foot-11, 189-pound ‘back enjoyed his UNC visit, too, and he’s weighing similar messages from both schools. The Tar Heels and Vols are offering immediate playing time, and Jordan said Tennessee was particularly stressing a lack of depth.
“Coaches were saying they only have two running backs on campus right now, so they want me to come in and make a big impact,” he said.
“I think I could play early because they don’t have a starter right now. They just lost two big players. … North Carolina, they were saying the same thing. They only have one back there now, and with him being back there, and other people coming in, there’s going to be a good chance to play.”
As Jordan headed back to Florida, he said a decision “shouldn’t take a while.”
“It’s even right now. I’m going to go home and think about things,” Jordan said.
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