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. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee and its latest commit chose the Vols.
Why the Vols
Tennessee has been one of the hottest recruiting teams in the country in the month of May. The latest commit, linebacker Lakia Henry, credits the coaching staff’s ability to build relationships for bringing him on board.
“It’s the communication me and the coaches have,” Henry said on the Rocky Top podcast. “We have really good communication. We talk a lot during the week. We built a great relationship that way. They’re resume being at really big programs means they are going to turn it around. That really helped my decision.”
This is an unique thought to Henry, either. Tennessee has eight commitments in the 2019 class, and all mentioned their relationships with the coaches as a big reason for the early pledge. Jeremy Pruitt is a very direct coach who earns a lot of respect from prospects with his intentional, no-nonsense approach and who cares about their lives beyond the field.
“[Pruitt] is a family coach; he’s a people guy,” said Henry, a student at Vidalia (Ga.) Comprehensive High School. “He knows he’s a good coach. He doesn’t worry about coaching. It’s about academics and getting me and other kids graduated.”
The coaching staff follows suit with Pruitt’s style. Most of the staff has a prior connection with Pruitt. The tight-knit vibe of the staff has stood out to prospects.
Playing time and rebuilding
One of the main selling points this staff has used is early playing time. It has been one of the main reasons the Vols have been able to hold the attention of some top-level prospects despite coming off of a 4-8 season. The chance of being on the ground floor of a rebuild has intrigued a lot of the commits, too.
“It played a big role,” Henry said. “I didn’t want to go to a program that’s already thriving. I wanted to go to a program I could help right away. Tennessee is a place I could make a difference from the community to the program.
“It would mean a lot. Tennessee has always been a high-caliber team. It’d be an honor to get them back to where they need to be.”
The 4-star junior college prospect will fill a big hole at linebacker for the Vols. Pruitt is transitioning the team to a 3-4 defense which will need better linebacker play than Tennessee has served up the past few years.
Henry brings an aggressive, attacking style of play that should fit seamlessly with the inside linebacker position.
“They told me I could come in and make a complete difference in the team,” Henry said. “I’m a different kind of linebacker. Running sideline to sideline and I’m a freak athlete. That’s what they were searching for.”
Henry was a great get for this coaching staff. He has an Alabama offer and has been invited to come visit the campus by the coaching staff. He was originally planning to take the visit, but now he’s not so sure.
“As of right now, I’m not going to take any visits,” Henry said. “As of right now, Tennessee is the only place my mind is set at. I’m not going to take any visit right away.”
Anytime a top prospect gets on Alabama’s campus and is a priority, it’s a cause for concern. For now, he looks to be all Vol.
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