The past couple of seasons haven't been banner years for the Tennessee Volunteers on the football field or with in-state recruiting. But at least the recruiting side of that bad luck changed momentarily Friday when Clarksville (Northeast) athlete Jalen Reeves-Maybin announced that he wanted to spend his next few seasons in orange.
When he signs, it will ensure the Vols get at least two of the state's top prospects in this year's cycle -- Reeves-Maybin and his close friend defensive end Jason Carr.
One of the most versatile recruits in this year's cycle chose the Vols over other finalists Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Louisville and Georgia Tech. He also had offers from Ohio State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Memphis, Cincinnati, Duke and others. Reeves-Maybin has been thought to be a UT lean for a long time now, but the Rebels and coach Hugh Freeze made a strong push for him recently.
Still, with his entire school looking on at Clarksville Northeast High on Exit 1 right on the Kentucky line, Reeves-Maybin chose UT, and "Rocky Top" blared not long after. In attendance was the most recent Northeast star athlete Alex Poythress, a five-star basketball player who signed with Kentucky. Other folks may know Northeast has been very good to UT in the past. It is the alma mater of former running back Travis Stephens.
Reeves-Maybin is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound physical specimen who projects as a safety, cornerback, outside linebacker, running back or -- in Georgia Tech's case -- option quarterback. He is also apparently so awesome that he needs two last names and will henceforth be known as The Hyphen here on Rocky Top Talk. [Or at least until I forget...]
While Reeves-Maybin projects at multiple positions with a high ceiling on the next level, he is expected to start out in the defensive backfield for the Vols, either at one of the two safety positions or 'Star' nickelback. He has a wide, thick frame that suggests he could also bulk up to play outside linebacker or running back. I think the Vols should give him a look on offense, where he could make an impact soon in the backfield. But the good thing about a pledge like this is he'll have the potential to help in several different areas.
UT running backs coach Jay Graham -- who has begun building some solid relationships in the midstate -- was The Hyphen's main recruiter, and cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley also provided an assist in securing his commitment. Though Reeves-Maybin says he is solid to the Vols, he'll continue to take official visits this Fall.
Reeves-Maybin isn't the highest-rated player on a few of the industry sites, but after a summer that saw him show out at multiple prestigious events including The Opening out in Beaverton, Oregon, he will receive -- and already has received in 247 Sports' case -- a healthy bump in rankings.
247 Sports rates four-star Reeves-Maybin as the No. 130 overall ranked player in the nation, the No. 9 athlete and the second-ranked player in the state behind Southern Cal commitment Jalen Ramsey.
Speaking of Ramsey, the Vols haven't stopped recruiting him, and Reeves-Maybin is very close to the Nashville prospect and will no doubt try to help UT lure him from Lane Kiffin and the Trojans. Though that seems like a long shot, Reeves-Maybin and Ramsey were talking at The Opening about repping the state, and maybe The Hyphen can convince his buddy to stay home.
247 Sports' industry composite ranking shows the discrepancy among other sites, as he is the No. 366-ranked player throughout the industry, the No. 23 athlete and seventh-ranked prospect in Tennessee.
That will change soon.
Scout recently raved over The Hyphen's summer camp circuit and boosted him to a four-star outside linebacker. Rivals hasn't gotten the hint yet and still has him as a three-star player and the nation's 31st-ranked athlete. ESPN says he's the 88th-ranked athlete and a three-star player.
The Vols jumped in on Reeves-Maybin's recruitment early and established a solid relationship with the athletic player and his talented family. His father was Marques Maybin, a standout basketball player at Louisville from 1997-2001where he played guard for Denny Crum. Jalen's cousin Cameron is an outfielder for the San Diego Padres.
If Reeves-Maybin signs with Tennessee, he will be the latest in a line of Clarksville Vols, including Harry Galbreath and Travis Stephens. A friend of mine who is a longtime staple in the Clarksville sports community says The Hyphen is the best area football player since Stephens. That list includes former Kentucky standouts Marcus McClinton and Micah Johnson -- who currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs -- who both played at Fort Campbell High School right across the state line in Kentucky.
With The Hyphen's status among and strong relationship with numerous recruits in the state this year and next, he really needs to get out there and promote the Vols to his peers, and he may just end up being one of UT's most important commitments -- on the field and off.
Reeves-Maybin is UT's 17th public commitment of this year's class and second defensive back commit in the last week. Jonesboro (Ga.) cornerback Cameron Sutton chose the Vols earlier in the week. The Hyphen is expected to graduate in December and be an early enrollee for UT.
Welcome to Big Orange Country, Mr. Reeves-Maybin!