KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee hasn’t had the happiest 2016, but it’s Christmas Eve.
So smile a little.
Hopefully everyone enjoys the holidays, but in between all the eating, drinking and gift-giving, how about a little Vols recruiting reading?
Today, I’ll take a look at the worse-case scenario for Butch Jones’ 2017 class. I doubt things will go awry … but what if they did?
Here’s a look …
Maleik Gray flips to Florida State
The 4-star safety from LaVergne is Tennessee’s highest-rated defensive commit. The 6-foot-2, 187-pound prospect is ranked No. 63 nationally — and fourth in the Volunteer State.
Although Gray played mostly outside linebacker in high school, he projects to be a fixture in Tennessee’s secondary as a hard-hitting safety.
Gray runs a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and has been a vocal recruiter for the Vols, targeting future teammates like Ty Chandler and Trey Smith.
But quietly, the Seminoles haven’t stopped their pursuit. Gray has a real relationship with FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and assistant coach Randy Sanders. He plans to take an official visit to FSU on Jan. 20, giving the ‘Noles another opportunity to sway the Top-100 recruit.
Although Gray likely will play mostly on special teams in 2017, Tennessee cannot whiff on another in-state talent.
Jordan Murphy doesn’t end up in Tennessee’s 2017 class
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound receiver is fresh off a ridiculous senior season, finishing among the Top 10 receivers nationally in yards (1,695). Murphy scored 22 touchdowns for Hattiesburg (Miss.) High, too, flashing his great hands, nifty footwork and excellent instincts.
The 3-star receiver is smooth and among the few plug-and-play guys in the Vols current class. Murphy impressed at the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game, receiving a ratings bump by several recruiting sites.
Although Murphy continues to hear from other schools, he’s not a true flip candidate. However, the nation’s No. 54 wideout has some work to do in the classroom. With so many projects in the class, Tennessee can’t afford to lose one of its few instant impact guys to an academics issue.
Will Ignont flips to LSU
Ignont recently told SEC County that he’s “110 percent committed to Tennessee,” but the 4-star linebacker still plans to take an official visit to LSU.
The Buckhorn (Ala.) standout admittedly liked the Tigers as a kid, saying, “Growing up, I always wanted to go to Auburn or LSU. … If there’s anywhere else I’d be, it’s LSU. But I’m solid with Tennessee.”
Ignont committed to Tennessee rather quickly in late October, so it’s not a shock that he’s left the door slightly cracked for LSU.
Like Murphy, he impressed at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, with 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons calling Ignont “one of the best linebackers in the country.”
Considering LSUs uncertainly with recent commit Monty Rice — another Alabama linebacker — the Tigers could put the full-court press on Ignont in the near future. What happens then?
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