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 impressing one of the best Class of 2020 prospects.
Tennessee leads with Nehki Meredith
Tennessee hosted a lot of important prospects over the weekend and made possibly the biggest impression on one of the best Class of 2020 prospects. Safety Nehki Meredith came into the weekend liking the Tennessee staff and their resumes, and he left on Sunday with a new school leading in his recruitment.
“Yeah, they’re leading,” Meredith told SEC Country. “I’ve never had a visit like that before I actually got recruited.”
The 4-star prospect got ranked as a top-5 safety by 247Sports not even a month ago. He visited Virginia Tech shortly after the rankings pop. This was his first experience on a campus where he was treated as a top priority.
Tennessee is putting a good amount of effort into this recruitment for a reason. Meredith is an elite safety. The Vols have gone all in on him early and it’ll likely keep the Vols in the conversation regardless of which schools come calling until his final decision is made.
Tennessee offered Meredith over the weekend. The only reason it didn’t come a few weeks ago was that the staff was wanting to it in person on the visit. He said the offer meant a lot because he’s never been given this much attention from a staff before.
That’s what this might ultimately come down to when a decision is made. Meredith values building relationships with the coaching staff and he did a lot of that this weekend.
“Coach Tino [Sunseri], [Charles] Kelly and Montario [Hardesty] showed lots of love,” Meredith said. “They treated me like family and that was really my first time meeting them, so it just felt good. I feel like they really get to know their players and that you could really talk to them and have regular conversations about anything.”
Pruitt’s talk with Meredith stood out, though. The first-year coach made it clear the Vols need playmakers in the secondary.
“I had a meeting with Coach Pruitt,” Meredith said. “He was telling me how they need DBs and if I were to come, I would be with the 2s if I started practice yesterday and that I remind him of [NFL star Tyrann Mathieu].”
That’s high praise for the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Meredith. Mathieu starred at LSU before going on to have a great NFL career.
Meredith plans to return to Knoxville for the Florida and Alabama games this fall. He said it’ll depend on what his own football schedule looks like, but it’s a great sign for the Vols he wants to come to two games.
Overall, the visit went about as well as it could have for Tennessee. The coaching staff impressed, the campus stood out and even Neyland Stadium did its part to recruit Meredith.
“We got to the stadium and it was amazing,” he said. “I heard it was one of the loudest stadiums in the country. Loved it. I could definitely see myself playing there.”
Pivotal weekend with Lance Wilhoite
Tennessee also had a great opportunity to impress top in-state prospect Lance Wilhoite.
The Nashville, Tenn., native was supposed to stop by the Tennessee campus Friday on the way to the Clemson spring game on Saturday. He never made it to Clemson, though. Wilhoite stayed in Knoxville over the weekend, according to a report by 247Sports Ryan Callahan.
It was important because this was his first opportunity to really sit down and talk with the coaching staff. The staff has made the 6-foot-2, 180-pound wideout a priority. The previous Tennessee staff backed off Wilhoite, so Pruitt has been playing catch up.
Having Wilhoite stay the weekend and skip the Clemson trip is a great development for the Vols. Tennessee needs to keep pursuing and hope the momentum from the visit can yield another trip to Knoxville.
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