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 the final cut for an important offensive line target and how recruiting has changed at the position with the new staff.
Tennessee makes top 2
Wayna Morris cut his list to two teams on Tuesday night with Tennessee and Auburn the final schools left to battle out his recruitment.
— •K I N G👑 (@wanyamorris64) March 6, 2018
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Morris has been to both schools a few times since his junior season began. He came to Knoxville last weekend before announcing his final two schools. The Loganville, Ga., native even changed his Twitter header to a picture of him on the Tennessee campus.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt and the new coaching staff have been pushing hard for the 4-star tackle since they arrived on campus. Their straightforward recruiting approach has resonated with Morris, according to Rival’s Chad Simmons.
“At Tennessee, it is about the same feeling that I have at Auburn,” Morris told Simmons. “They treat me like family up there and I have built a great relationship with coach [Will] Friend and everyone else on the new staff.
“The staff at Tennessee didn’t waste any time with the recruiting pitches and they just gave me the facts, so I liked that.”
The comment about Friend, the offensive line coach, is important. He has been one of the most underrated recruiters on the staff.
Class of 2018 signee Jerome Carvin told me that in his first phone conversation with Friend it was clear he was a good coach. Class of 2019 tackle Triston Miller said there is a “vibe” that he knows what he’s talking about.
Tennessee’s depth on the offensive line is thin. Morris likely would have an easier path to early playing time in Knoxville.
Morris’ teammate Ronald Thompkins listed the Vols in his top four on Monday. The pair were committed to Florida State last summer. Auburn didn’t make Thompkins’ list.
The Vols likely will push the idea of the two playing together in college.
Recruiting on line changing
Tennessee is changing its offensive philosophy. Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton broke down what he wants when he spoke to a packed Tennessee Theatre at a National Signing Day celebration.
“There is one thing we are looking for from our offense,” Helton said. “We are going to run to win. What does that mean? Some point in time you’re going to have to put the ball down and everybody knows you’re running the rock. That’s what we are going to do. When it’s time to run it, we are going to stick it up in there and we are going to be good at it.”
It appears the days of converting stout tight ends to tackles are over. Redshirt sophomore Devante Brooks and signee Tanner Antonutti both fit this description. The previous staff valued their athleticism at the position.
This coaching staff would rather take bigger, stronger prospects. This is evident in Tennessee’s latest offer to an offensive lineman.
— Malaesala (@SalaDaBeast) March 6, 2018
Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu is a 6-7, 345-pound tackle at Navarro College, which is a junior college. He holds notable offers from USC, Florida, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
This kind of big-bodied mauler is the type of lineman the coaching staff will be targeting.
The Vols continue to go after junior college offensive linemen. Tennessee targeted a few in the last cycle and signed tackle Jahmir Johnson from Arizona Western. There must be some uncertainty about the current roster’s depth and ability to adjust to the new playing style.
Recruitment still open for elite defensive end
LSU commit Jaren Hardy has had an interesting last few days. He took an unofficial visit LSU last weekend and committed to the Tigers. Then he tweeted Wednesday that his recruitment was “still open.” A pretty odd thing to do just a few days after a commitment.
MY RECRUITMENT IS STILL OPEN!!!!
— Alm!ghty Turbo™️‼️ (@Jarenhandy2) March 7, 2018
Tennessee offered the 6-5, 260-pound New Augusta, Miss., native in early February. Hardy has the body type Pruitt wants for the defensive line.
The 4-star prospect isn’t completely sold on LSU. Expect Tennessee to push for a visit.
Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news here.