If Tennessee has its way, Eric Crosby will be just the beginning of the Vols’ success in recruiting in the state of Virginia.
Crosby, the four-star defensive tackle from Ocean Lakes High School (Virginia Beach, Va.) who committed to Tennessee in April, could signal a growing stream of prospects willing to come west from the Old Dominion state. Crosby’s early decision carried some weight, as he’s the No. 5 overall prospect in Virginia, the No. 9 defensive tackle prospect in the nation and the country’s No. 133 overall prospect. Crosby chose the Vols over scholarship offers from several schools, including Clemson, Florida State and Alabama. Crosby certainly has the size. He is listed at 6-foot-1 and 297 pounds.
The momentum appears to be continuing to build. Breyon Gaddy, who is from Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.) recently tweeted that the Vols led for his services. Like Crosby, he’s a top priority. Gaddy has even more size. He is 6-4 and 353 pounds. Gaddy is the No. 12 prospect in Virginia, the No. 18 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 292 overall prospect in the nation. Clemson, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia are also in pursuit of Gaddy.
The Vols are also pursuing Gaddy’s brother, Brandon Gaddy, who is 6-5 and 285 pounds. Brandon isn’t as highly rated as his brother. However, he’s begun to pick up some big-time scholarship offers, namely from Florida State and Clemson.
Tennessee seems poised to have success in Virginia, as its efforts are being led by one of the team’s top recruiters, receivers coach Zach Azzanni. Tennessee is also pursuing defensive ends Jordan Williams from Frank W. Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Elijah Conliffe from Hampton (Va.) High School.
Williams is thought to be leaning towards the Vols. He has 24 scholarship offers, including invites from Penn State, Southern California and Virginia. The 6-5, 260-pound Williams is rated the No. 18 weakside defensive end in the nation and the No. 9 prospect in Virginia.
Conliffe may be a tougher battle to win. He has shown strong interest in Penn State. The 6-4, 284-pound prospect is rated the No. 18 strongside defensive end in the nation and the No. 16 prospect in Virginia.
The push in Virginia makes sense for the Vols considering the increased competition in other areas, especially in Atlanta. Tennessee has long considered that prime recruiting territory. Georgia’s hiring of Kirby Smart, who is considered an elite recruiter, will make that territory even more challenging.
The Carolinas also will be a greater challenge. Clemson is one of the hottest recruiting teams in the nation. South Carolina is now headed up by Will Muschamp, who is also considered a top recruiter. There’s also plenty of competition in that area from North Carolina, which is quickly becoming a force in recruiting and on the field.
That’s not to say that the Vols will abandon those areas. However, Virginia makes sense for several reasons. Virginia Tech is undergoing a coaching change and can’t be expected to have strong recruiting connections just yet. As for the University of Virginia, it has never been much of a challenge in recruiting.
The Vols have three scholarship players on their roster from Virginia. Seems those players will have some fellow Virginian teammates very soon.