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It’s the final mailbag before National Signing Day.
Let’s get to your questions.
Brandon asks: So you think we’re done with the class?
The Vols want to land a few more guys, but can they?
Tennessee hopes to add another defensive lineman, ideally signing 5-star defensive end LaBryan Ray on NSD. Coaches will go in-home with the James Clemons (Ala.) standout on Thursday. Hampton (Va.) defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe is prospect Tennessee has some momentum with, too.
There’s not spots for both guys, but Tennessee might make room if both DL want in.
Meanwhile, the Vols continue to flirt with 3-star receiver Jordan Pouncey. The Winter Park (Fla.) product will visit Knoxville this weekend. Tennessee already has four wideouts in 2017 class, but with a couple guys still looking around, the Vols are keeping their options open.
In the end, I could see Tennessee adding 1-2 more guys … or zero. We’ll see.
Justin asks: How is the Vols 2018 class shaping up?
Tennessee has a pair of commits for 2018 already in 5-star offensive tackle Cade Mays and 4-star athlete Alontae Taylor.
Both are in-state products.
The junior class doesn’t have the superstar power of the 2017 group (Trey Smith, Tee Higgins, Jacob Phillips, Jacoby Stevens), but there’s quality depth, especially along the defensive line. The Vols are already in good-standing with in-state products like Greg Emerson, a 4-star defensive end from North Side, Brant Lawless, a 4-star defensive tackle from Nashville Christian, Jaylon King, a 4-star corner from Ensworth, Brandon Harris, a 4-star safety from Baylor School, and Brentwood receiver Camron Johnson.
In recent days, the Vols have offered a number of top junior defensive backs. The real question for Tennessee’s 2018 class will be if it can land a top-flight quarterback.
Matt asks: Do you think Rivals ranking of Jacob Phillips, is justifiable? A 5-star? Do u think he will be Butch Jones version of Patrick Willis (Coach Fulmer), a big-time regret down the road, that we didn’t try harder and they both grew up Tennessee fans?.. I know P Willis was a different case, because he wasn’t offered a scholarship, but it’s sorta is a similar case.
I don’t dabble in ranking recruits, but I do believe Phillips is a blue-chip prospect. Tennessee definitely botched this one. I watched Phillips all week at the U.S. Army All-American game and he flashed the entire time. He moves really well for a guy at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds.
He has good instincts, too, and should be a force as a run defender. Tennessee certainly likes its linebacker class (Will Ignont, Shanon Reid, Solon Page III), and I think Page has a super high ceiling, but Phillips would’ve made the entire group much better, IMO.
He’s the best of the bunch.
Mike asks: We seemed to miss out on a quite a few in-state gems. What do you attribute a lot of that too? Some were decommits too.
Per the 247Sports Composite, Tennessee has landed 3 of the state’s Top 10 prospects.
Now, over the past few months I’ve covered extensively why some guys (like Phillips, Tee Higgins and Jacoby Stevens) ended up elsewhere. But here’s a quick bullet-point rundown on each prospect.
* S Jacoby Stevens (LSU commit) – Originally from Louisiana. Never seriously considered Tennessee
* WR Tee Higgins (Clemson commit) – Once a Vols commit, eventually ended up at Clemson as he liked the Tigers offense better and wanted to escape the fishbowl of playing just outside his hometown
* LB Jacob Phillips (Oklahoma commit, could flip to LSU) – Tennessee wasn’t sure Phillips was a linebacker and then he soured on the staff
* WR Amari Rodgers (Clemson commit) – Tee Martin’s son. Tennessee offered too late, fell in love with Clemson immediately. Is close with Higgins
Bryan asks: Most underrated commits in class. Go.
Here are five commits I believe will ultimately outperform their rankings: Linebacker Solon Page, defensive tackle Matthew Butler, corner Cheyenne Labruzza, safety Theo Jackson and offensive tackle K’Rojhn Calbert.
Wideout Jordan Murphy would’ve made this list, too, but he recently received a nice ratings bump.
Thanks for the questions, y’all.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton
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