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SAN ANTONIO — Tennessee desperately needs future defensive playmakers — especially linebackers — so why did the Vols miss so badly on a talented in-state prospect who could possibly contribute in 2017?
Jacob Phillips committed to Oklahoma in October, and the East Nashville Magnet School linebacker has had an impressive week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Phillips has been a popular player in Texas, too, garnering heavy interest from LSU — with even uncommitted linebacker Willie Gay pushing Phillips to flip to the Tigers.
So again, what happened with Tennessee and the 4-star prospect?
The Vols were one of the first schools to offer Phillips in 2014. He visited Tennessee several times, attending a couple camps including junior day.
“They were the second school to offer me my sophomore year,” Phillips told SEC Country.
“I went on a visit and I really liked it and stuff like that.”
But not long thereafter, communication between the two parties stopped. Almost completely.
Phillips was leaning toward leaving the state, while Tennessee wasn’t sure if the 6-foot-4, 235-pound prospect was actually a linebacker. He didn’t visit for more than a year, and he barely talked to Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen.
After assessing his early senior season film and shuffling their own defensive board, the Vols reached back out to Phillips this fall. His stock had continued to rise, and he had official visits lined up to Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and OU.
He attended the Florida game and had a great time, but by then, it was already too little, too late for the Vols.
“Throughout the years you really kind of see what people truly are, and I just didn’t really feel comfortable there,” Phillips said of Tennessee.
“Just hearing what other people had to say about them, too, I didn’t feel comfortable.”
Phillips offered no ill will toward the Vols, but admitted he simply never meshed with the staff.
“It wasn’t necessarily the fit or anything,” he said.
“It was the coaching staff and stuff like that.”
Tennessee adds walk-on QB
Episcopal School of Dallas quarterback Seth Washington committed to Tennessee on Thursday night.
SEC Country confirmed the 2-star Texas signal caller will be a preferred walk-on.
— Seth Washington (@sethwash1) January 6, 2017
Washington holds scholarship offers from Brown, Cornell, Eastern Kentucky and Howard, among others. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback completed 51 percent of his attempts for 1,081 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He’s ranked as the nation’s No. 29 duel-threat quarterback, per 247Sports Composite.
Washington joins fellow Texas quarterback Will McBride in the Vols 2017 class. McBride remains solid to Tennessee despite offensive coordinator Mike DeBord’s departure, telling SEC Country, “It will be interesting and fun to see who gets those spots and to see who I’ll be working with the next couple years.”
McBride flipped from Memphis to the Vols in mid-December and will enroll at Tennessee on Tuesday.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton