KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — 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.
For the second straight weekend, Tennessee will welcome a slew of commits and a couple prospective targets — including a late surprise visitor.
With National Signing Day quickly approaching, the Vols are looking to put the finishing touches on their Top-10 recruiting class.
A week ago, Tennessee hosted a bunch of defensive linemen, netting a commitment from 3-star end Ryan Thaxton.
We’ll see what happens this weekend.
Here’s what you need to know…
*** UNCOMMITTED TARGETS ***
* 3-star defensive end Aaron Sterling (Tucker, Ga.)
National ranking: No. 438 nationally, No. 18 defensive end
Also considering: South Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia
What to watch: Sterling took a visit to N.C. State last weekend, and he’s set for back-to-back trips this weekend, going to Georgia until Saturday and then making his way to Tennessee. The Under Armour All-American is a USC-lean, but the Bulldogs could emerge as a landing spot considering how other targets shake out. The Gamecocks will receive the final visit.
With Thaxton committing Tuesday, it’s difficult to know if Sterling actually has a spot now at Tennessee — especially considering top targets LaBryan Ray and Elijah Conliffe are still on the board.
* 3-star running back Tim Jordan (Bartow, Fla.)
National ranking: No. 2,038 nationally, No. 126 tailback
Also considering: North Carolina, Purdue
What to watch: Jordan decommitted from Western Kentucky in early January, narrowing his sights on UNC, Tennessee and Purdue. He tripped to North Carolina last weekend, and the Tar Heels have emerged as the frontrunners from the underrated tailback’s services. Still, Tennessee will push hard for Jordan this weekend, as 4-star Travis Etienne is a toss-up and New Jersey tailback Jonathan Lovett is a backup option.
* 4-star running back Devan Barrett (Tampa Catholic, Fla.)
National ranking: No. 166 nationally, No. 11 tailback
Also considering: Auburn commit
What to watch: The surprise visitor. Barrett is a name who emerged late Thursday night. He’s an interesting visitor, tripping to Tennessee once over the summer. But the tailback has been a part of the Tigers class since late July. Sources tell SEC Country that while Tennessee has come on hard late, Barrett is solid to the Tigers, hosting a pair of coaches Thursday. He will have his in-home with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn next week. Still, Barrett’s visit is at least curious. We’ll see if anything materializes after he spends an extended period of time around Robert Gillespie and Larry Scott.
Quick note: The Vols were scheduled to also host Lovett and 4-star defensive end Brad Johnson (Pendleton, S.C.) this weekend. However, after visiting South Carolina, Johnson will not make the trip anymore. Lovett will come to Tennessee on Jan. 27.
*** COMMITS ***
In addition to the three Tennessee recruiting targets, nine Vols commits will also take their official visit to Knoxville this weekend.
* 4-star linebacker Will Ignont (Buckhorn, Ala.)
* 3-star defensive tackle Matthew Butler (Garner, N.C.)
* 3-star corner Cheyenne Labruzza (Albany, La.)
* 3-star corner Shawn Shamburger (Colquitt County, Ga.)
* 3-star receiver Jacquez Jones (Clearwater, Fla.)
* 3-star tight end James Brown (Jones, Fla.)
* 3-star linebacker Solon Page III (Kell, Ga.)
* 3-star linebacker Jaquan Henderson (Newton, Ga.)
* 3-star defensive end Marquez Bembry (Mount Vernon Presbyterian, Ga.)
Ignont, Butler, Brown, Page and Bembry are all locked into Tennessee. After meeting with new defensive backs coach Charlton Warren earlier this week, the same can be said for Labruzza and Shamburger.
That leaves Jones and Henderson.
Jones is a longtime commit, but the shifty Sunshine State receiver has continued to hear from a pair of in-state schools. Central Florida has remained in the picture all fall, and Jones took an official visit to South Florida last week. He also hosted new Bulls coach Charlie Strong in home this week.
Meanwhile, Henderson has taken four official visits already, tripping to Michigan State, Indiana, Nebraska and North Carolina. The B1G schools are not legitimate threats, and the Tar Heels aren’t a true factor, either. The one school lingering behind the scenes is Georgia Tech, which continues to quietly push hard for the in-state linebacker. Getting Henderson’s family on campus will be key this weekend for Tennessee.
ICYMI: Coaches on the road
In recent days, notable visits include Warren meeting with defensive back commits Maleik Gray and Theo Jackson. Butch Jones joined both visits.
Meanwhile, tights ends coach Larry Scott and Robert Gillespie were in Florida visiting with Brown and Jones before they took their OV’s to Tennessee this weekend.
Defensive line coach Steve Stripling was scheduled to see 4-star defensive tackle target Elijah Conliffe (Hampton, Va.) on Thursday. Conliffe enjoyed his OV to Knoxville last week and will trip to Florida this weekend.
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