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 making a big push for an in-state defensive tackle.
Talking every day
The Vols have been putting in a lot of effort to recruit Class of 2019 4-star defensive tackle Tymon Mitchell, and it’s starting pay off.
Tennessee’s coaching staff is making a bigger effort to recruit in-state prospects, and Mitchell, from Nashville, has been made a priority.
“[We talk] a lot really,” Mitchell told SEC Country. “I talk to at least one of the coaches every single day. The last staff, I didn’t really talk to at all. They showed interest and they said they liked me, but they never really sat down and talked to you.”
The home-grown focus of the new coaching staff has stood out to a lot of recruits. Mitchell’s Franklin Road Academy teammate Lance Wilhoite agreed the efforts of coach Jeremy Pruitt and staff have been impressive.
The staff is trying to put some distance between Tennessee and other schools, and it wants to use a trip to Knoxville to do it. Coaches push for visits immediately from every recruit in whom they have some interest.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Mitchell visited Knoxville on Feb. 24 and came away with a good impression of how the environment has changed.
“I loved it,” Mitchell said. “I mean, I’ve always liked Tennessee. Now it feels like an entirely different place. Especially you just look at the energy around all the players and all the coaches. It just feels like, I don’t know about a happier place, but there is definitely more energy around the place right now.”
Visitors frequently comment about how the vibe around the staff and program has changed since Pruitt took over. Former coach Butch Jones’ staff generally got along, but there always was some division in the ranks.
This isn’t the case with Pruitt’s staff. Almost all of the coaches have been friends for years, and the camaraderie shows.
“The coaches genuinely have love for each other,” Mitchell said. “Every coach that came there had opportunities to go anywhere else in the country. All of them were successful before they came here. All of them want to coach for Jeremy Pruitt. So, it’s that part of it. Everyone genuinely wants to be there.”
Mitchell fits what Pruitt wants out of the position. Mitchell has the size and run-stopping ability the new coaching staff values.
Tennessee wants players who can play defensive tackle or end and switch between both with ease. Mitchell ranks as the No. 21 defensive tackle in the class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
The Jones staff didn’t really talk with Mitchell too much, but that hasn’t set the Vols too far behind. Mitchell’s a mild-matter guy who doesn’t seek the attention that comes with being a big-time recruit. He’s still not used to the spotlight.
“Really not too much was going on until the end of this season,” Mitchell said. “It just popped off me.
“It’s kind of weird. Just being here the whole time while Lance [Wilhoite] is popping off and getting all this attention, it’s just weird that now it’s on me.”
Stanford has been recruiting Mitchell vigorously. Stanford is the team he mentions first when he talks about which team recruits him the hardest, along with Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisville.
Mitchell said he plans to visit Stanford for the first time in April, and that might be a turning point in his recruitment. If it goes well, every program might be playing catch up. He said he plans to visit Tennessee again this summer, along with Georgia and other schools.
Tennessee will have to keep working on the relationship with Mitchell. Being the state school won’t affect his decision too much, it appears.
“There is definitely something to love about being close to home and all that,” Mitchell said. “At the same time, it’s not about just football and life right now. It’s got to be about what’s best for me and the future.”
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