KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers.
The NCAA’s dead period lasts another couple of weeks, but there’s still plenty of movement on the recruiting trail.
Every Friday until National Signing Day, I’ll give you a quick peek at Tennessee’s 2017 class. Where is it ranked? Top commits? Top Targets? And more.
Where is Tennessee’s class ranked?
With 26 commits, the Vols check in at No. 11 nationally, No. 6 in the SEC. They rank behind Alabama (1), Georgia (3), LSU (5), Texas A&M (7) and Auburn (9), per the 247Sports Composite.
Who are Tennessee’s top commitments?
* No. 26 overall Trey Smith, a 5-star offensive tackle from University School of Jackson (Tn.)
* No. 63 overall Maleik Gray, a 4-star safety from LaVergne (Tn.)
* No. 73 overall Ty Chandler, a 4-star tailback from Montgomery Bell Academy (Tn.)
* No. 228 overall Eric Crosby, a 4-star defensive tackle from Ocean Lakes (Va.)
* No. 295 overall Will Ignont, a 4-star linebacker from Buckhorn (Ala.)
Who committed to Tennessee this week?
The Vols landed 4-star defensive lineman Matthew Butler on Wednesday. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound prospect from Garner (N.C.) is a versatile, productive lineman, recording a whopping 26 sacks as a senior. He committed to Tennessee over finalists Penn State, N.C. State, Duke and Texas A&M. He gives Tennessee another quality body along the defensive line.
Who are Tennessee’s top uncommitted targets?
* No. 4 overall Cam Akers, a 5-star running back from Clinton (Miss.) — The nation’s No. 4 overall prospect bumped up his commitment date to Dec. 27. Tennessee is a finalist, but most believe it’s a two-horse battle between Florida State and LSU.
* No. 43 overall LaBryan Ray, a 4-star defensive end from James Clemens (Ala.) — Tennessee will be hard-pressed to poach the No. 1 player out of Alabama away from the Crimson Tide, but the Vols will at least get the chance when Ray takes an OV in mid-January.
* No. 290 overall T.J. Moore, a 4-star offensive guard from Mallard Creek (N.C.) — Is their room for the mauling offensive guard? For now, it appears Tennessee is unlikely to sign a fourth offensive lineman in the 2017 class.
* No. 333 overall Yusuf Corer, a 3-star cornerback from Woodland (Ga.) — The Vols are the favorites to land the defensive back, who plans to announce a commitment on Dec. 26.
Who will enroll early?
Tennessee currently has five commits who plan to start school on Jan. 8.
* OT Trey Smith (University School)
* LB Shanon Reid (Dunbar High, Fla.)
* OT Riley Locklear (Spring Valley High, W.Va.)
* DE Deandre Johnson (Miami Southridge High, Fla.)
* QB Will McBride (Clear Springs High, Texas)
Quarterback (1) — Will McBride (Clear Springs, Texas)
Running back (2) — Ty Chandler (Montgomery Bell Academy), Trey Coleman (West Monroe, La.)
Tight end (1) — James Brown (Jones, Fla.)
Receiver (3) — Jordan Murphy (Hattiesburg, Miss.), Princeton Fant (LaVergne), Jacquez Jones (Clearwater, Fla.)
Offensive line (3) — Riley Locklear (Spring Valley, W.Va.), K’Rojhn Calbert (Warren County), Trey Smith (University School)
Defensive line (6) — Kivon Bennett (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fla.), Eric Crosby (Ocean Lakes, Va.), Marquez Bembry (Mount Vernon Presbyterian, Ga.), Tre Lawson (North Augusta, S.C.), Latrell Bumphus (Hardin County), Matthew Butler (Garner, N.C.)
Linebacker (4) — Jaquan Henderson (Newton, Ga.), Solon Page III (Kell, Ga.), Will Ignont (Buckhorn, Ala.), Shanon Reid (Dunbar, Fla.)
Defensive back (5) — Maleik Gray (LaVergne), Theo Jackson (Overton), Cheyenne Labruzza (Albany, La.), Shawn Shamburger (Colquitt County, Ga.), Terrell Bailey (John Ehret, La.)
Kicker (1) — Brent Cimaglia (Fred J Page)
North Carolina (1)
West Virginia (1)
Vols extend offer to another 2017 tailback
With 5-star Cam Akers continuing to trend toward Florida State or elsewhere, Tennessee is actively targeting other tailbacks to fill the final running back spot in the 2017 class.
The Vols are targeting a number of options, adding 3-star Cherokee (N.J.) High ‘back Jonathan Lovett to the mix Wednesday.
— John Lovett (@_jlovett7) December 21, 2016
The former Rutgers commit is a 6-foot-1, 194-pound prospect, holding offers from Iowa, Maryland, Penn State and Michigan State, among others. He decommitted from the Scarlet Knights in November. Lovett rushed for over 1,300 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2016.