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 its recruitment of an in-state linebacker.
Everything is improving
While Tennessee has chosen to raid neighboring states rather than make a number of in-state prospects a top priority, the staff is intrigued by 4-star linebacker Kane Patterson.
The Nashville, Tenn., native had his second visit with the new staff over the weekend. It was a more personal visit than the junior day Patterson attended on March 24.
“I was very impressed,” Patterson told SEC Country. “Every time I go back, everything is just improving. From the first time getting to meet everyone, this time was awesome having everyone to myself. I got to spend more time with Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt and Coach [Kevin] Sherrer. I spent more time looking at the academics, and I got to see the new weight room which is pretty sweet.”
The 1-on-1 conversations with Pruitt and other coaches are almost always highlights of visits. The coaches know how to click with prospects on campus, and they did so with Patterson.
“I really like [Sherrer],” Patterson said. “Him and Pruitt are my type of coach. With Coach Sherrer, he showed me what they are doing at practice and working on using their hands to get off blocks.”
Patterson liking the way Pruitt and Sherrer conduct themselves is very important. Patterson outlined to SEC Country before the visit that being around the right kind of people is important to him. He also wants to compete for championships, and the staff is trying to lay the foundation for that culture.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Patterson also got the typical Pruitt treatment in their 1-on-1 meeting. Pruitt doesn’t kiss up to prospects on campus. He is very honest about what he wants to see and how each player can improve.
“It was good getting to spend more time with him,” Patterson said. “He gave me some tips on things I can do better in my senior season and my game play. He could tell in big games when I played a lot on offense that I was winded on defense. I was bending at the waist, and I need to keep my head up. He also said I need to use my hands more against the linemen that come block me.”
Not every coach recruits this way, and you have to be sincere when you do it. Pruitt does a great job finding a way to demand more from prospects who may never play for him. He earns a lot of respect this way.
Patterson has no more set plans to visit schools. He might take another to Knoxville this summer to continue building relationships. The next visit he wants to go on is Auburn.
“I’m getting close,” Patterson said about narrowing his list. “I guess my next step is cutting the list down to what I’m interested in and then down to five by the end of the summer. Then I’ll start thinking about my officials.”
Tennessee added a commitment from junior college linebacker Lakia Henry over the weekend. It’s a position that needs a pretty big overhaul from the Butch Jones era. Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme needs great linebacker play to succeed.
Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson to transfer
Former 5-star quarterback Hunter Johnson is reportedly transferring from Clemson, according to Tiger Illustrated’s Larry Williams. He should be eligible for the 2019 season.
Johnson was the No. 2-rated quarterback in the 2017 class. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound pro-style quarterback was committed to Tennessee early in his recruitment.
The Vols have slow-played the 2018 quarterback class, as the staff hasn’t been thrilled by many players thus far. They want to use the June camps to evaluate the talent in person.
Johnson would be an intriguing option since he was so highly rated out of high school, but it’s unclear if there is interest from either side about trying to bring him to Rocky Top.
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