Less than a month and still so many questions. Welcome to the crazy world of Tennessee football recruiting.
The Vols still have several top prospects on their board. However, it seems they trail for most. In order to make this a class to remember, Tennessee’s coaches, which include two new additions, will need to close strong.
What are the chances the Vols land Nigel Warrior?
Let’s start with a tough one. Tennessee has reeled in several legacy commitments since Butch Jones arrived on campus. Todd Kelly Jr., Kahlil McKenzie and the Berry brothers were some of the notables. Warrior, the 6-foot, 186-pound safety from Peachtree Ridge High School (Suwanee, Ga.), can stand right alongside any of them in terms of recruiting stature.
Warrior’s father, Dale Carter, was a fan favorite at Tennessee during a time when there were plenty of superstars in orange. Now, the four-star Warrior can follow in his father’s footsteps or blaze his own path. There has been plenty of talk that Warrior would prefer the latter so that he doesn’t have to live up to his father’s name. That would make sense.
The Vols seemed to have an edge when other schools, such as Alabama and UGA, underwent coaching changes. That edge may have disappeared now that former defensive coordinator John Jancek is gone. Jancek was very involved in Warrior’s recruiting.
The Vols have one big ace up their sleeve. Warrior’s teammate, cornerback Baylen Buchanan, committed to Tennessee on Jan. 1. He is surely talking up the Vols.
As far as odds, call it 50-50 for Warrior.
Will the Vols land a much-needed receiver?
I’m saying yes on this because of the numbers. There are just too many quality receivers on Tennessee’s board to miss out on them all. However, the group has dwindled a bit lately.
Four-star prospect Marquez Callaway from Warner Robins (Ga.) High School is likely the most coveted and attainable receiver prospect remaining on Tennessee’s board. Callaway has three official visits scheduled this month, to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee. However, he’s also expressed interest in UGA and Miami. Callaway said he is toying with the idea of waiting until after National Signing Day to announce his decision. If that happens, who knows?
Three-star receiver Velus Jones from Saraland (Ala.) High School once seemed like a Tennessee lean. Now, he seems likely to end up elsewhere, possibly Oklahoma, although Jones is still technically a Southern California commitment.
Four-star receiver Binjimen Victor from Coconut Creek High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) is scheduled to take his official visit to Tennessee this weekend. The Vols need to make a strong impression to top Florida, where he’ll visit later this month.
Will the Vols hold onto Jonathan Kongbo?
Technically, the Vols don’t have a hold on Kongbo now. The defensive end from Arizona Western Junior College (Yuma, Ariz.) de-committed from Tennessee after committing to be a Vol last fall. The four-star Kongbo commended the Vols’ hiring of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. Undoubtedly, this will be Shoop’s greatest challenge. If he can convince Kongbo to be a Vol, he’s worth that $1.15 million per year.
Will the Vols get an official visit from Landon Dickerson?
Dickerson inferred he’d likely take an official visit to Tennessee over UGA and that the Vols would be a finalist for his services. However, no official visit to Knoxville, Tenn., has been set and Dickerson is slated to take officials to Florida and Alabama this month. I say the Vols get an official, but Dickerson still ends up signing with Florida State.
Will the Vols close strong?
Obviously, this is very subjective. For those hoping for a top-five or even a top-10 class, you’re likely setting yourself up for disappointment. If the Vols can finish with a top-15 class nationally, they should be commended considering how few scholarships the Vols have to offer this year. However, Tennessee will need some help just to get into the top 15. With 17 commitments, the Vols rank No. 21.
In order to close strong, Tennessee needs to secure a big-time commitment just before National Signing Day. Five-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown from Lanier High School (Buford, Ga.) would fit the bill. He’s scheduled to take his official visit to Tennessee on Jan. 29.
“All player ranking and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.”