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.
National Signing Day is Feb. 1, so Vols coaches have hit the road for a final few precious visits.
The Tennessee recruiting class stands at 27 commits with tailback Timothy Jordan joining the fold on Monday.
How many spots are left?
There’s no firm answer. The Vols could be done, or they could add as many as three guys (coupled with more attrition).
No doubt, 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray (James Clemons, Ala.) and 4-star defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe (Hampton, Va.) are definite takes. What about tailback Travis Etienne? Another receiver? Defensive end Aaron Sterling?
Etienne is coming off a visit to Clemson and will go to LSU this weekend. Although spots are tight in Baton Rouge, SEC Country sources say the Tigers remain the front-runner to land the 4-star tailback.
Meanwhile, Ray took his official visit to Alabama over the weekend. The Vols have made some inroads with Ray, but the Tide remain confident, per SEC Country sources. They’ll go in-home with Ray later today.
Defensive end Ryan Johnson, a 4-star from Mobile (Ala.), eliminated Alabama over the weekend, a possible sign of Alabama’s confidence in Ray’s impending decision.
Visits, visits, visits
Butch Jones visited a number of commits in the past two days, seeing in-state athlete LaTrell Bumphus on Sunday and then traveling to Virginia to meet with defensive linemen Ryan Thaxton and Eric Crosby.
Great inhome visit with coach jones! ?? pic.twitter.com/tZkeYRJAeb
— LaTrell Bumphus (@LBumphus) January 23, 2017
Bumphus could play tight end or defensive end at Tennessee, and his position could depend on how the Vols close over the next seven days.
Both Thaxton, a recent commit, and Crosby took their official visits to Tennessee on Jan. 13.
— yeti27™ (@ekm2781) January 23, 2017
While in Virginia, Jones went in-home with Conliffe. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and defensive line coach Steve Stripling accompanied Jones.
Conliffe, a nose tackle, enjoyed his official visit with the Vols two weeks ago and is coming off a weekend visit to Florida. It appears to be a 2-team race for the 4-star prospect, with Penn State lurking. With no room, Alabama moved on from Conliffe.
Today, Jones, tight ends coach Larry Scott and tailbacks coach Robert Gillespie were to meet with Auburn tailback commit Devan Barrett. The 4-star recruit visited Tennessee over the weekend but remains firm to the Tigers.
Both prospects have taken their official visits to Tennessee and hosted the new secondary coach in-home last week.
Tennessee welcomed eight commits and three targets over the weekend, and the official visits paid immediate dividends for the Vols.
As for how the weekend went for a couple of Tennessee’s other commits?
* Labruzza had a “really great time” and his family “has a good feel for Rocky Top.” The 3-star corner celebrated his birthday at Tennessee over the weekend, with commits, future teammates, other families and coaches serenading him with a song during one dinner.
* 3-star defensive tackle Matthew Butler told SEC Country he had a “terrific time.” He was hosted by Daniel Bituli and enjoyed hanging out with defensive linemen Kahlil McKenzie and Jonathan Kongbo. He also bonded with early enrollees Trey Smith, Riley Locklear and Will McBride. Butler put on his recruiting hat for UT over the weekend, too, trying to lure in Sterling.
* 3-star tight end James Brown is locked into Tennessee. Brown. a converted quarterback, feels really comfortable around the program. Brown’s parents told me that Larry Scott’s promotion to OC was a “a very pleasant surprise.” Scott is Brown’s main recruiter and the coach who identified him early in the process.
* 3-star linebacker Solon Page III had a blast on the visit. The family environment and delicious food were two big pluses. The Georgia native received the Cobb County Linebacker of Year award on Monday.
Tennessee extended scholarships to two budding prospects in Georgia on Monday.
2018 safety Trey Dean (Dutchtown, Ga.) received an offer, as did 2019 defensive end Chris Hinton (Norcross, Ga.).
Dean (6–2, 180) is 3-star prospect with 16 early offers, including Louisville, UCLA, South Carolina and Florida.
— T®ey Dean (@__TD3) January 23, 2017
Hinton is considered a top prospect in a loaded 2019 class from Georgia. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound lineman already has offers from the Bulldogs, as well as Miami, North Carolina, Clemson, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, among others.
Blessed to receive an offer from University of Tennessee ??? #govols
— Christopher hinton (@Thechrishinton) January 23, 2017
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