Offense change has Tennessee emphasizing tight end recruiting
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Tennessee freshman Greg Emerson and Alontae Taylor have been getting a lot of preseason hype for what they might accomplish this fall. Rightfully so, they both early enrolled and came to Knoxville with offers from almost every SEC school. They might not be the most important prospects from the 2018 class, though.
Tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson is likely to play the biggest role of the newcomers for the Vols.
This is for two reasons.
First, his talent. He was recruited by Alabama out of junior college. Coach Jeremy Pruitt was able to get him away from his former school. Anytime you can win a recruiting battle against Alabama, you’re doing something right.
Second, his fit. Tennessee is shifting to a pro-style offense built around a power running game. The Vols need tight ends that can block well.
“We’re trying to figure out do we have any tight ends, I’m talking about tight ends that can block, not line up there [and] run pass patterns,” Pruitt said during his press conference Thursday. “If we’re gonna run pass patterns, I’d rather put wide receivers out there.”
Wood-Anderson will come to campus this summer with a better ability to block at the tight end position than anyone on the roster. This will earn him plenty of playing time.
The need for Wood-Anderson highlights how important the recruiting at the position is for the 2019 class.
Tennessee tried to sign three tight ends during the 2018 cycle. It only signed Wood-Anderson and Jacob Warren. However, Warren was an in-state legacy commit from the Butch Jones tenure which Pruitt honored.
There were needs across the roster, but placing such an emphasis at tight end shows what the coaching staff thinks about the fit of the roster.
Tennessee has picked up a 2019 commitment from Jackson Lowe. He’s a 6-foot-5, 242-pound blocking tight end who offensive coordinator Tyson Helton is excited to get onto campus. Lowe could become the backup to Wood-Anderson next season and see time in two tight end sets.
The Vols seem set on taking two tight ends in this cycle. Sean Brown is receiving the most attention from the Vols and are the favorites to land the commitment. The 6-5, 245-pound Brown would be an excellent pairing with Lowe in the class.
The coaching staff wants to get bigger at almost every position, and tight end might be the biggest difference in philosophy from the previous staff to now. Which makes the recruiting at the position even more important.
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