Tennessee’s 2016 signing class will end with a splash or a whimper. Even if it’s the latter, fans shouldn’t be too displeased. The Vols figure to land a top-20 class which will include a highly touted quarterback. That’s nothing to be ashamed of even if 2016 is considered an off year with the way the Vols have been recruiting lately.
If Tennessee doesn’t close out strong on Wednesday, fans will fret. How could the Vols miss out on a top-flight offensive tackle like Landon Dickerson, who was practically in their backyard? How could Tennessee’s coaches not secure a legacy like safety Nigel Warrior as they had with so many other players with Tennessee ties? Most of all, why didn’t the Vols recruit as they had in the past? Fair or not, those questions will be asked unless the Vols win some all-important recruiting battles on Wednesday.
Tennessee class breakdown
Ranking: No. 22 in the nation
Top targets: DT Derrick Brown, OT Landon Dickerson, DE Jonathan Kongbo, S Nigel Warrior
Total projected signees: 21-22
Names to know
QB Jarrett Guarantano – It’s easy to forget about Guarantano, who committed to the Vols in April. However, Guarantano is one of the highest rated quarterback signees in Tennessee history. That’s pretty impressive.
WR Marquez Callaway – Certainly the biggest late pickup for the Vols. The receiver from Warner Robins (Ga.) High School was a key addition that filled a desperate need for the Vols.
RB Carlin Fils-aime – The time is coming when the Vols will need another tailback. Eventually Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara will move on, so the Vols will soon need another tailback. Fils-aime could certainly fit the bill. He was a superstar in South Florida.
Storylines to watch
How will the Vols close?
Tennessee has a respectable class no matter what happens on National Signing Day. However, the Vols could certainly add some star power to a class that figured to be small from the beginning. Tennessee fans have been wringing their collective hands with concern about just how the Vols will finish the 2016 class. It would just take an additional signee or two to make everyone in Knoxville, Tenn., feel much better. Tennessee recruiting fans are a bit spoiled, having coming off of two strong signing classes.
How will Tennessee’s junior college players impact the Vols?
Clearly, Tennessee signed three junior college players to make a run at some serious hardware in 2016. Receiver Jeff George gives the Vols a deep threat — and maybe more. Defensive back Desmond Henderson can provide help for a defensive backfield that had be better be braced for a rebuilding year. Defensive tackle Alexis Johnson is the highest rated junior college prospect of the group and should provide the Vols a strong presence on their defensive line immediately.
The Vols are in the hunt for a handful of prospects on National Signing Day on Wednesday. If the Vols get one, it’s an OK class. Any more than that and Tennessee fans can celebrate a strong — albeit small — class.
All player ranking and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.