Tennessee recruiting: A look at the Vols’ tight end board
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Tight end isn’t typically a position of focus on the recruiting trail, but you can bet that with offensive coordinator Larry Scott also coaching tight ends, Tennessee is going to make it a focus.
The 2017 recruiting class saw just one scholarship tight end, 3-star James Brown out of Orlando, Fla. Over the weekend, Butch Jones and Scott also added preferred walk-on Grant Frerking out of Peachtree Corners, Ga.
The addition of the big-bodied Frerking, a 6-foot-6 tight end with a relatively slim frame at 190 pounds and a basketball background, might give an indication into what type of tight end Scott is targeting.
That’s apparent with most of the 18 tight ends that currently hold offers from the Vols, with 12 of them standing at 6-foot-5 or taller.
Most of the tight ends with offers from Tennessee are 3-star recruits by 247Sports’ composite rankings. There are a few 4-stars at the top, but most of them are either committed or come from schools outside of Tennessee’s typical recruiting grounds. Maybe one exception, Will Mallory out of Jacksonville, Fla., has been highly connected to Michigan with 10 experts picking him to end up with the Wolverines by 247Sports’ Crystal Ball predictions.
Of the 3-star recruits, there’s three candidates that stand out above the rest. The first two, Jacob Warren and Tanner Antonutti, both fit into Tennessee’s recent focus on keeping in-state talent. Warren is as home-grown as it gets, hailing from Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tenn. He’s also the son of former Tennessee offensive lineman James Warren.
Warren currently holds 13 including Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss and South Carolina. After he visited the school for its first junior day in mid February, he told 247Sports Ryan Callahan that his offer from Tennessee was a “dream” and that it was a “comfortable program to be at.”
Antonutti might be even closer than Warren to making a decision. He visited for the Vols’ second junior day earlier this month and told Callahan that he briefly considered committing on the spot. More of a blocking tight end than Warren at 260 pounds with some offensive tackle experience, the Nashville product has said that Tennessee is his top school outside of maybe Louisville.
It’s unlikely that Tennessee would take more than two tight ends in its class, even with two seniors — Ethan Wolf and Jakob Johnson — currently on the roster. Even beyond the two in-state guys, there are several other options for the Vols if needed.
Kyle Pitts, Warminster, Pa.
Pitts, the No. 15 tight end in the 2018 class, included Tennessee on his top 8 that he dropped earlier this month.
Tennessee will be fighting with schools like Florida, Oklahoma and Miami for Pitts, along with Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Maryland and UCLA, if his top 8 holds. Georgia is also recruiting Pitts hard.
Zach Sheffer, Ponte Vidra Beach, Fla.
At 6-foot-3, Sheffer is smaller than most of Tennessee’s tight end targets, but the No. 18 tight end in the country has already been on several visits to Knoxville since receiving his offer last May.
Sheffer boasts 26 offers already including 7 from SEC schools. South Carolina and Michigan have both already received offers and appear to be up with Tennessee as the favorites. Ohio State has a chance to inch its way up there, too, with a visit scheduled on April 1.
Elijah McAllister, Rumson, N.J.
McAllister, the nation’s No. 21 tight end, is pretty easy to identify as a Tennessee favorite — he said so himself last September.
While things have been relatively quiet in his recruiting process, the Vols aren’t a shoe-in to land McAllister. As he told 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong in January, McAllister is a lifelong Michigan fan he’s really interested in receiving an offer from the Wolverines. If that were to come, that could change everything.
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