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Tennessee has impressed defensive tackle Ricky Samuel.

Defensive lineman Ricky Samuel names Tennessee leader following weekend visit

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 going after a talented defensive tackle, a surprising grad-transfer option, and a big offer extended.

Tennessee leader for Ricky Samuel

Just get a prospect on campus and there is a chance. That was the philosophy of Phillip Fulmer when he coached at Tennessee.

Defensive lineman Ricky Samuel took a trip to Knoxville last weekend for junior day and came away impressed with the school and coaching staff.

“Tennessee would be a leader right now. Yeah, they would,” Samuel told SEC Country.

Samuel said one of his favorite parts of the trip was talking with coach Jeremy Pruitt. While at Alabama, Pruitt had recruited Samuel. Same with co-defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer. The familiarity with some of the staff members helped put the Vols in the lead, too.

“I feel like it’s upped the interest,” Samuel said. “They like me and I like them. The coaching staff up there is great. They are doing a really great job. I’m ready to go back.”

The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Samuel clearly has connected with the coaching staff. He says the Vols are recruiting him harder than anyone.

The 3-star prospect appears to be a good fit in the Vols’ new 3-4 defense. He plays defensive end for T.R. Miller High School in Brewton, Ala., but Pruitt envisions him as a defensive tackle. What he believes he does best lines up with what Pruitt is looking for at the position.

“I feel like I stop the run a lot better than I pass rush,” Samuel said. “I love stopping the run and when the offense runs the ball.”

Pruitt is trying to remake the defensive line in a hurry. Samuel can go a long way in helping accomplish this goal.

Tennessee is the team to beat for the Samuel. He plans to visit Alabama, Georgia and Auburn fairly soon. They will have to do a lot to unseat the Vols.

“To be honest, Tennessee really set the bar high,” Samuel said. “They are going to have to do quite a bit.”

Graduate transfers aren’t finished

Tennessee has picked up graduate-transfer commitments from quarterback Keller Chryst and kicker Ryan Tice. The Vols likely aren’t done scouring the grad-transfer market.

RELATED: Tennessee football podcast: Keeping expectations for the new quarterback in check

An interesting name has emerged. Brad Shepard of Bleacher Report predicted that Clemson running back C.J. Fuller will end up in Knoxville.

The Vols lost running back John Kelly a year early to the NFL draft. The team also is transitioning to a power run game. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Fuller could fill the need for a power back.

The coaching staff likely will monitor how sophomore Ty Chandler handles running through the tackles in spring practice. He is a speed back and was recruited to play in a spread system.

If the coaching staff doesn’t feel Chandler can handle a starting role in the SEC in a pro-style offense, expect them to potentially reach out to some more experienced backs.

The Vols did sign a 6-2, 220-pound back in Jeremy Banks from Cordova, Tenn. He won’t get to campus until the summer, which might put him behind in learning the offense. He is the type of running back the coaching staff will target, though.

Pursuing defensive backs

Tennessee made a big offer Thursday to safety Nick Cross.

The Hyattsville, Md., native rates as a 4-star prospect and ranks as the No. 10 safety in the Class of 2019, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Cross has an impressive offer list that includes Alabama, Florida, Auburn, LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

Tennessee will lose safeties Todd Kelly Jr. and Micah Abernathy after the 2018 season, making defensive back one of the biggest needs in the 2019 class.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Cross would be a great addition for the Vols. The coaching staff surely is trying to get him on campus to make a lasting impression.

Tennessee also made a graphic for in-state cornerback Adonis Otey.

Otey’s recruitment has been an odd one. The coaching staff took its time reaching out to the 4-star prospect. It was an interesting choice because of his friendship with a number of other top prospects in the middle of the state. Not to mention cornerback is an area of need.

The communication has picked up between the two sides. It’s a match that would benefit both sides too much to not be explored.

Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news here.

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