Ask any Tennessee recruiting fan to name a handful of the Vols’ most coveted prospects and Marquez Callaway would be on very few lists. Now, he’s on another list – Tennessee’s commitment list.
Callaway’s announcement that he committed to Tennessee on Thursday was a welcome change-up from a bumpy beginning of the week when the Vols missed out on a highly rated receiver and lost a former commitment that strongly criticized the Vols via social media. Now, Tennessee fans can just chalk that up to a bad case of the Mondays.
Anyone who has paid any attention to recruiting knows that the Vols have been working hard to address a suddenly depleted receiver position. Callaway does that and more.
If Callaway isn’t productive on offense — which he should be — then he has the prototypical size, quickness and speed to play cornerback. That gives the Vols flexibility with an elite prospect.
Callaway’s sudden decision also allows Tennessee coaches the ability to focus on other prospects. No one in orange is going to ignore Callaway, who is a four-star prospect from Warner Robins (Ga.) High School, but he doesn’t have to be monitored nearly as closely as some of Tennessee’s undecided prospects.
Adding Callaway doesn’t signify an end to the Vols’ recruitment of receivers. Don’t be surprised if Tennessee’s coaches continue to aggressively recruit wideouts. Four-star Mykel Jones from Patterson (La.) High School is scheduled to be in town this weekend and the Vols are hoping he’s joined by Latrell Williams from Columbia High School (Lake City, Fla.), even though he committed to Miami last weekend.
The Vols could certainly land another elite receiver in this year’s class. Tennessee coaches have proven they can sell early playing time as well as anyone and there’s plenty to be had for game-ready wideouts. If the Vols can secure another top receiver, it would be a welcomed bonus considering how many receivers Tennessee works into the rotation and how many they’ve lost from last year’s team, including Von Pearson, who led the Vols in catches and receiving yards.
With Callaway, the Vols have achieved something special. Tennessee’s coaches should be commended. The Vols secured Callaway without much to sell receivers other than early playing time. Tennessee will very likely rely on a ground attack in 2016, and receivers will be asked to block more often than not.
Receivers’ roles at Tennessee will likely change, but not until the Vols can find a way to pass the ball downfield with more consistency. That may take another quarterback or just an improved Joshua Dobbs. If either happens, Callaway figures to be wide open and ready.
Callaway is rated as the nation’s No. 3 athlete and the state of Georgia’s No. 12 prospect in this year’s class.
All player ranking and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.