Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly mailbag, a question-and-answer forum between readers and Tennessee team and recruiting reporter Blake Morgan.
In this edition, we discuss Tennessee’s recruiting class, quarterbacks the team is going after, and Class of 2019 needs.
To submit a question for Blake, send a message to @BlakeMorganSEC on Twitter or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It looked like Tennessee had picked up enough momentum a few weeks ago to possibly put together a top-10 class. I no longer feel like the Vols finish that high.
The Class of 2018 currently is ranked No. 16 in the country and No. 5 in the SEC, according to the 247Sports team rankings.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt came in and kept commitments from 4-star recruits Alontae Taylor and Greg Emerson. He also picked up commitments from 4-star prospects Jeremy Banks and Jerome Carvin.
Pruitt turned a lot of heads when outside linebacker JJ Peterson committed to Tennesse over Georgia and Alabama.
To finish with a top-10 class, Tennessee likely would have to swing commitments from wide receiver Jacob Copeland, cornerback Olaijah Griffin and linebacker Quay Walker.
I think Walker is the only prospect in the group that Tennessee is in great position to land. Griffin seems to slowly be shifting toward USC, but the Vols are right there. Copeland doesn’t seem likely at this point.
Landing only Walker and filling out the class with some 3-star prospects probably would land Tennessee in the 11-13 range. That would be impressive considering Tennessee ranked in the 50s when Pruitt took over.
I don’t think there is much interest in Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason.
For one, I would imagine Georgia would try to block a transfer within the SEC.
The coaching staff is pursuing quarterback options, though. Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton has reached out to graduate transfer Alex Thomson from Wagner.
Expect the Vols to try and add another quarterback, but probably from the grad transfer market. Adding a traditional transfer such as Eason wouldn’t do much good since he would have to sit out next season.
It depends how this class shakes out. Tennessee has 17 commitments this cycle but doesn’t have any defensive back commits.
That likely will change. If it doesn’t, obviously defensive back will be the biggest need.
Linebacker and defensive line probably is the best answer, though. Tennessee has a junior college signee at outside linebacker in Jordan Allen. The Peterson commitment is big. Walker coming aboard also would be big.
Pruitt’s 3-4 defense will need more playmaking linebackers, though. Bringing in two or three prospects at the position in this cycle won’t be enough. Expect linebacker to be a priority next season.
Defensive line might struggle with depth issues in 2018. The team doesn’t have a player at defensive tackle who fills the needs of the 3-4 scheme. In the 3-4, the defensive tackle must be able to occupy multiple blockers to free up linebackers.
The Vols have one signee at defensive tackle in Kingston Harris. Defensive tackle will be improtant in the 2019 class.