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. Today, we talk about the Vols’ mounting momentum with running back Master Teague III after his most recent visit.
For the most part, it’s looked like Tennessee was a firm second place for the services of 2018 3-star running back Master Teague III behind South Carolina. But after the Murfreesboro, Tenn., native’s last visit to Knoxville on April 8, that may no longer be the case.
“It was a good visit,” Teague told SEC Country. “I got to talk a lot with Coach Butch Jones and see a little bit of the scrimmage and I got to talk a lot with Coach [Robert] Gillespie and he kind of showed me a plan of if I went there, a development plan, so that was good. It was a good visit overall, going back one more time to check everything out.”
The Vols’ pitch to Teague was simple but strong — that he’s at the top of their board.
“I’m their first draft pick, one of the big players to have on their team,” Teague said. “They said I’m really important to them and that I fit what they would like in their program. They were telling me a lot of times that I should represent this state, represent home and have those connections. Things like that.”
The pitch to stay at home isn’t a new one in Teague’s direction or for Tennessee’s staff. With the 2 additions to the 2018 class last week, all 4 of the Vols’ commits are from the state of Tennessee. Teague told SEC Country late last month that while Tennessee’s in-state pitch “could” influence his recruitment, it wouldn’t sway him far if Tennessee isn’t “the right place.”
Fast forward a month, and it seems like Teague has been swayed at least a little bit on that pitch.
“I guess it is important when I think about it real good, the advantage of staying home,” Teague said. “They’re telling me about when you come to Tennessee, you’re a Tennessee Vol for life and if you come back and get your degree and if you leave, go to the next level, they’ll always support right there. That’s something that they emphasize a lot and sounds pretty nice.”
It also may have helped that Tennessee had that message coming not only from the coaching staff, but from the Class of 2018’s ace recruiter Alontae Taylor. The 4-star athlete also visited on April 8 with Teague and made sure to give his best pitch.
“I was just talking to him [about] staying in state and just representing the state,” Taylor said. “If you go anywhere else and you graduate from there then you’re not going to want to stay there and live there if you don’t make it to the league. You’re going to want to come back to Tennessee. I’m just letting him know when you graduate from Tennessee, if you don’t make it to the league you’re still set for life.”
From the interaction he had with Teague, Taylor feels that the Vols are gaining some momentum with the nation’s No. 28 running back. At one point during last week’s scrimmage, running back John Kelly broke off a big run and eyes immediately turned toward Teague.
“We all kind of look at Master and he was like shaking his head like yeah,” Taylor said. “I kind of got that vibe like he liked what he sees.”
The timing of this visit couldn’t have been better for Tennessee, too. Teague visited Georgia on Saturday, but indicated that would wrap things up until he makes his decision this summer, potentially sometime in late June.
With a very positive last impression, Tennessee could have positioned itself well against its prime competition. Teague isn’t indicating which teams are atop his list, although South Carolina, Auburn and Georgia are regarded as the other favorites.
The opposition may not matter much if Tennessee keeps its message on point over the next couple months. In fact, maybe the most telling thing Teague said is that Tennessee is recruiting him the hardest. The path to victory for the Vols is to maintain course.
“Just keep doing what they’re doing,” Teague said. “I think it’s up to me praying about things and allowing God to show me the way. They just need to keep doing what they’re doing, they’re doing a good job, recruiting me the hardest. That tells me that they want me the most. If they keep doing what they’re doing now, that’ll be good.”
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