When you have as many young, quality offensive linemen as the Vols do on this year's roster, there's no need to go out and sign a bunch of guys. But there's always a need to get at least one or two every year.
Prospects look up and down the roster and see names such as junior Dallas Thomas, sophomores Ja'Wuan James, James Stone, Alex Bullard, Zach Fulton, Jer'Quari Schofield, Marques Pair and freshmen Antonio Richardson, Marcus Jackson, Kyler Kerbyson and Alan Posey and immediately think -- "If I go there, I'm going to be sitting a couple years."
While that may be true, it isn't necessarily so. Teams need offensive linemen in every single signing class. This year, the Vols would like two but settle for one. Tops on that list was five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, who committed to Florida over Tennessee. Though Humphries appears set as a Gator, UT hasn't stopped recruiting him.
Next -- and certainly UT's best chance of nabbing an OL in this year's cycle -- is Henry County, Tenn., product and longtime Vols fan Andrew Jelks. Many UT fans thought the season-ticket holder would immediately commit to the Vols upon receiving his offer this past summer. That wasn't the case, and Jelks is still dragging out the process with a late-October/early-November time frame at best.
That said, the Vols seem to be the definite leader for the Paris native. UT got the 6-foot-6, 270-pound tackle on campus for an unofficial visit against Cincinnati this past weekend and did nothing but improve their status with him. The teams that have turned Jelks' head are Vanderbilt, Alabama, Mississippi State, Stanford and Ole Miss. Jelks would like to visit all those schools, but easily UT's top two competitors for his signature are Vandy and Bama.
Still, it would be a surprise if Jelks -- who has been concerned about UT's depth chart -- chose to go anywhere but his childhood favorite. It seems the Vols have calmed things with Jelks and let him know that, beyond Thomas, James and Richardson, UT is playing guards at offensive tackle and needs more "true" OTs. Jelks fits that mold. The best thing about the Vols getting Jelks to take the visit this past weekend as an unofficial is that he expects to be back to visit officially later in the season.
- The Vols also had a very, very important official visitor for the Cincy game when 6-3, 265-pound defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore traveled to Knoxville. If the name sounds familiar, it's because he is a former Alabama defensive end who was going to factor heavily into the Crimson Tide's plans this year before transferring out to Mississippi Gulf Coast community college. The Vols and Lane Kiffin recruited Sentimore out of high school before he ultimately chose the Tide, where he had some maturity issues.
Though it's difficult to get much information from Sentimore, he seemed to like the trip according to the Volquest story and the GVX247 article. If Sentimore had to choose today, I'm confident he'd be a Vol. Problem is, the recruiting process is just beginning for him.
Sentimore is known as a relentless player on the line and could play either defensive end or tackle. He has two years to play two, and the Vols right now seem to lead for his services over LSU and Texas. UT is aided by the fact that defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph coached at Sentimore's old stomping grounds of Destrehan (La.) High School. La Tech -- with Derek Dooley and Joseph -- actually got Sentimore to take a visit there the first time through the recruiting cycle. UT didn't.
Getting Sentimore to commit would be huge not only because it's a position of need, but also because he would be able to enroll in December. Still, he isn't pulling the trigger anytime soon.
- Tennessee weathered a storm this weekend when its top defensive tackle target, 6-3, 293-pound Danny O'Brien of Flint, Michigan, visited the Big House and didn't commit to the Wolverines following their epic win over Notre Dame. But that doesn't mean he didn't come away impressed. Though many analysts had given UT the upper-hand in the battle to get O'Brien, that visit -- the second in as many weeks by O'Brien to Ann Arbor -- will be tough to overcome. Also in the picture are Bama and Michigan State. But, really, it's a UT-Michigan battle.
- According to GVX247, the Vols offered Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln 2013 linebacker James Hearns this past week.
- Visitors to this weekend's game who are already Vols commits were Drae Bowles, Cody Blanc, Jason Croom and 2013 commit Austin Sanders.
- Commitment MVPs for the past weekend of games were, on offense, Croom -- the 6-4, 200-pound WR caught four balls for 112 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Roswell. On defense; and QB commit Nathan Peterman, who was 18-of-27 for 272 yards and four touchdowns to go along with a rushing score. LB Otha Peters had eight tackles, three TFLs and a sack to get defensive MVP honors.