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. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee and the latest with one of its top recruits.
The latest with Wanya Morris
Tennessee has put in a lot of time and effort to land a commitment from 4-star tackle Wanya Morris. He is one of the top targets on Tennessee’s board. I felt very confident about Morris choosing Tennessee two weeks ago, but Auburn appears to be closing the gap.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound player from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., cut his list to a top 2 following a visit to Knoxville early in March. This seemed to give the edge to the Vols since it was so close to his visit.
I’ve been told that people around Morris felt like Tennessee was going to be the decision. One source was confident Thursday in telling me this was still the case.
Tennessee had a lead at one point, at the very least. It’s imperative to hold onto the lead with a decision possibly coming by the end of the month. Coach Jeremy Pruitt and most of his staff came to Rocky Top with the reputation of being great recruiters. Missing out on Morris would be a huge blow to the Class of 2019, which was finally starting to gain some momentum.
A Morris commitment would pair him with 4-star guard Jackson Lampley. Setting the Vols up with a great offensive line corps would be very enticing to quarterback prospects and would set the tone for the class. The coaching staff wants the team to get bigger and more physical, and that starts with trying to win the line scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton wants to have a power-run game in Knoxville. Adding Morris and Lampley to the line would help make that vision a reality.
Tennessee is offering a chance at early playing time and a chance to be a part of building something special. The Volunteers are coming off their first 4-8 season in school history. It can be challenging recruiting on only a vision. The coaching staff needs the appeal of playing time to be enough for this one.
Auburn clearly has a more established program right now. The Tigers are coming off a season that featured a run to the SEC Championship Game.
Auburn also is pitching the chance for Morris to play with his high school friends.
Morris took a three-day trip to the Plains earlier this month with Owen Pappoe, a 5-star linebacker who is rated No. 1 at his position and in the top 10 nationally on the 247Sports composite.
Pappoe is deciding between Auburn and Georgia. The Tigers are trending in the right direction after Georgia was thought to have the edge.
This might complicate matters with Tennessee. Morris and Pappoe took a trip together to Knoxville in March. The two are close and probably interested in the prospect of playing together in college.
Auburn also extended an offer to Pappoe and Morris’ teammate, center Jakai Clark, over the weekend. Clark committed to Auburn on Tuesday.
This clearly was an attempt to better the standing with Morris and Pappoe. Clark had drawn the most interest Boston College, Syracuse and Temple before last weekend. To put it simply, Clark likely wouldn’t have gotten the offer and chance to commit if he didn’t have a friendship with Pappoe and Morris.
It can be looked at as a shrewd move by Auburn to go after a friend. It also could be a sign of desperation and an attempt to try anything to impress Morris and Pappoe.
Some on the Auburn coaching staff believe the Clark commitment will tip the scales in their favor.
I think Tennessee still has a lead overAuburn but it’s closer than it was two weeks ago. The Tigers will continue to pull out all the stops in this one.
Lance Wilhoite visiting Knoxville
One of Tennessee’s top in-state targets is making a visit to Knoxville on Friday, according to 247Sports’ Ryan Callahan. Lance Wilhoite is stopping by on his way to Clemson to see its spring game, according to the report
Wilhoite is a wide receiver the coaching staff talks to on a regular basis. This is a position the Volunteers have struggled at the past few years.
Tennessee has been playing catch up with Wilhoite since this staff got to campus. The situation got sideways between him and former coach Butch Jones.
The visit is an important chance to make a lasting impression on Wilhoite. It’s an opportunity that can’t be botched.
Basketball prospect decision coming
Tennessee has appeared to back off of the Tyler Harris recruitment. Harris is scheduld to announce his decision on Friday, and it appears the choice will be Baylor or Memphis.
I thought it was a mistake when the Volunteers stopped the effort with Harris. There was a window before Penny Hardaway was hired at Memphis where Tennessee could have made a push. That’s why Baylor is a finalist. Coach Scott Drew put in a lot of effort for the Memphis, Tenn.-area prospect.
Tennessee has two openings on its roster for coach Rick Barnes to fill.
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