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Tuesday, Tennessee extended an offer to 3-star Tucker (Ga.) inside linebacker Michael Harris according to 247Sports’ Alex Gleitman.
The offer is really nothing out of the ordinary. The nation’s No. 15 inside linebacker already had 18 offers under his belt before the Vols came in, including ones from Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and several other SEC schools. The offer also doesn’t fundamentally change anything about Tennessee’s class of 2018 trajectory, because he looks like a longshot to land anywhere other than Ohio State, where all seven of his 247Sports Crystal Ball projections have him landing.
The offer to Harris is noteworthy all the same because, if nothing else, he’s an inside linebacker. When he received his offer on Tuesday, Harris just became just the fifth inside linebacker to secure an offer from the Vols for the class of 2018. That’s five offers out of 283 total according to 247Sports, about 1.8 percent of all offers doled out for the class thus far.
Of course, inside linebacker can be a fluid position sometimes. Many times, your best college inside linebackers were converted outside linebackers or safeties in high school. Some of the more athletic high school inside linebackers even end up being moved to other positions, so it’s not to say that one of those other 278 players with offers from Tennessee couldn’t end up as inside linebackers, but it’s noteworthy all the same.
In general, linebacker seems to be the position with the least number of offers. Even when adding the 10 offers handed out to outside linebackers, it’s still fewer offers than any other position and even the unspecified position “athletes” classification.
The Vols do have a history of bringing in some elite inside linebackers under Butch Jones from time-to-time, but they also have gone entire classes without signing one. The 2017 class will feature 4-star Will Ignont, the nation’s No. 16 inside linebacker. Two classes before that saw 4-star Darrin Kirkland Jr., the No. 5 inside linebacker in the 2015 class. But sandwiched in between is a class that didn’t have one come in, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented.
Given that, here’s an updated look at the other four players currently on the Vols’ board.
Teradja Mitchell, Virginia Beach, Va.
Mitchell, the nation’s No. 2 inside linebacker, is a definite long shot for Tennessee.
Mitchell received his offer from the Vols last May and has been on campus once since he received it, but the 5-star prospect already has 31 offers from just about every major FBS contender in the country.
Recently, Mitchell told Gleitman that Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, LSU and Ohio State were the five schools standing out the most so far. The Crystal Ball at 247Sports has Mitchell as a very heavy Florida State lean.
Solomon Tuliaupupu, Santa Ana, Cal.
Not far behind Mitchell, Tuliaupupu ranks as the nation’s No. 3 inside linebacker. He’s also a long shot for the Vols.
Tuliaupupu, a 4-star prospect, received his offer from Tennessee in July. He hasn’t yet made a trip to Knoxville and while he’s said in the past that Auburn and Alabama should expect to get visits, he’s never given any indication that he plans to make a trip to see Tennessee.
A top 100 player in the country, Tuliaupupu seems to be leaning toward USC or Ohio State with nine Crystal Ball projections unanimously projecting him to land with the Trojans.
Dax Hollifield, Shelby, N.C.
Hollifield, the No. 4 inside linebacker in the nation, probably isn’t going to be a Volunteer, either.
The 4-star prospect, ranking as the nation’s 110th-best player, released his top nine in late February and did not include the Vols. LSU, Alabama and South Carolina were all lucky enough to be included on Hollifield’s list.
Tennessee offered him in May, just his fifth offer at the time, but he’s now up to 18, all of which come from Power 5 schools.
Khalid Jones II, Greenville, S.C.
Jones, a 3-star prospect, might be the most realistic of the targets to land in Knoxville.
The nation’s No. 17 inside linebacker holds nine offers including Kentucky, Ole Miss and Wisconsin. He’s already visited the Vols once and has yet to secure an offer from in-state schools Clemson and South Carolina.
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