With 17 commitments already in this year's class, it's going to be interesting to see how many prospects the Tennessee Volunteers are going to be able to take.
Obviously, teams can normally sign 25 players as long as the roster stays at 85. There are also times when teams can back-count scholarships, and UT will be able to do that some this year if the opportunity presents itslef. But barring any early defections, UT only has room for 18 players in this year's class. Of course, that will change as natural attrition occurs -- be it transfers, disciplinary reasons or early leavers to the NFL. You can bet the Vols will certainly have their share of those.
So, how many can we expect UT to sign? I'd say they'll at least get to 23 in this class, and it would not surprise me if some fat is trimmed to at least get to the allotment of 25.
There is also the probability that some of the kids currently committed [especially if UT has a very good season] may be asked to look around. Also, there is always the possibility of a decommitment or two. It isn't a pleasant part of the recruiting process, but it happens -- both ways -- so you have to account for it. Before anybody starts playing their little sad violin, it isn't always a bad thing, either. Last season, the Vols cut Imani Cross to sign Davante Bourque. Cross is shining as a true freshman at Nebraska, and Bourque left the Vols less than a week into camp.
It's a two-way gamble.
So how will the remaining numbers shake out if UT can sign, say, 24? Nobody really knows, but I'll take a crack at it. Right now, UT has commitments from five linebackers [Zach Barnes, De'Vondre Campbell, Colton Goeas, Corey Vereen and Dominic Zanca]. That is a major, major need in this year's class. Though coaches love all of those guys, I'm sure one of them -- a guess here is Barnes -- would be asked to look around if UT could sway a kid higher on their list. We'll get to that in a bit.
UT has the five linebackers, JUCO defensive tackle Ben Bradley, defensive end Jason Carr, quarterback Riley Ferguson, three wide receivers [Paul Harris, Camion Patrick and Josh Smith], three offensive linemen [Brett Kendrick, Dan Skipper and Austin Sanders], two safety/stars [Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Kameron Miles] and one cornerback [Cameron Sutton].
Patrick has grade issues. That's just a note. But the Vols would almost certainly like to add at least one more wide receiver, one more linebacker, another defensive tackle, at least one -- and possibly two -- running backs, a tight end, and another offensive lineman. UT leads for Hawaii offensive lineman Reeve Kohler, so you have to think he's got a spot regardless. He's set to announce at a national all-star game. I think UT will also sign another surprise player, so however the numbers work, I think they'll get there.
Anyway, it's just a guess. Onto the notes:
- How big is this weekend? We'll get into the specifics later on, but the main bullet point you need to know is Tennessee's top three running back targets -- Derrick Henry, Derrick Green and AJ Turman are all expected to be onhand visiting for the Vols' tilt with the Gators. Wow. 247's Chris Nee just tweeted Tuesday that Turman hoped to make it up. Henry is expected to announce Sept. 27.
- There is another running back with a UT offer to watch out for. Former Penn State commitment David Williams is going to OV to Knoxville, and the Vols may have the inside track here. I don't know exactly where in the pecking order Williams is, but it may be third or fourth.
- Some news and rumors surrounding a couple of UT's top targets at linebacker. There is speculation and rumors right now that Southern Cal may ask Jason Hatcher to look around. The Trojans have the nation's No. 1 recruiting class and have been tearing it up with limited spots. They only have room for one more player unless they trim some of the current commitments. Hatcher favored the Vols for a long time, and if he is let loose, he may end up falling into our laps.
- Also, Georgia commitment Naim Mustafaa has still been in contact with UT coaches and is visiting for the Florida game. There is a distinct possibility we can slide back in on the 6-4, 235-pound inside linebacker. Would be a huge get.
- More visitors this weekend, according to compiled reports from GoVols247 and Volquest: Commitments Zanca, Brandley, Campbell, Vereen, Dan Skipper and Kameron Miles. Four-star South Carolina commitment Brendan Langley, four-star JUCO wide receiver Jonathan Rumph, five-star running back Derrick Green and five-star running back Derrick Henry.
- Speaking of Henry and Green, the Vols -- as everybody knows -- desperately need an impact back in this year's class. Henry is a heavy lean to Alabama, and if UT is going to have any shot at him, we need to beat Florida. He's an early enrollee and one of the players who wants to see us turn the corner. As for Green, analysts say he likes everywhere he visits, but it's thought his two leaders are Auburn and Michigan. With those two teams' suspect starts, we need to make a major leap this week.
- Rumph is reportedly heavily considering the Vols and likes what he sees from Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Our offense is a major selling point right now to receivers, and Rumph is the best JUCO kid out there right now. He and North Carolina high school star MarQuez North are the Vols' top two remaining wide receiver targets on the board. UT continues to recruit Kris Comas and Corey Smith as well -- two JUCO kids. Smith is a name you may remember. He was a one-time UT commitment coming out of high school.
- Alabama 247 writer Charles Power has an article on Georgia safety Vonn Bell where Bell discusses last weekend's official visit to Tuscaloosa. Bell's three favorites as of now are UT, UA and Ohio State. Many think UT will be tough to beat for Bell if they have a good season, but Bama fans also believe their foot is firmly in the door and he's listening to what Nick Saban has to sell.
- There have been rampant rumors about Auburn getting in trouble in Memphis. As a matter of fact, by the time you read this story [that I'm writing on Tuesday] the news may leak. There's also the fact that the Tigers are currently 0-2 and look like hot garbage. If they continue to struggle, the Vols really could capitalize on it. Huntsville (Ala.) linebacker Cameron Toney is an Auburn commitment who still loves and keeps in contact with the Vols. Five-star defensive end Carl Lawson is also still continuously talking to UT, and his high school defensive line coach is former Vol Constantin Ritzmann. UT would certainly get back in there. Finally, the Vols had offered Memphis tailback Jordan Wilkins, who is an AU commit. If the Vols don't get one of their top three targets at RB -- Henry, Green or Florida tailback A.J. Turman -- Wilkins could be a possibility.
- The past two years, the Vols have been the bane of Miami's recruiting existence. Two years ago, they stole former Canes' commitment OL Marcus Jackson. Last year, it was DL Trent Taylor who switched commitments. Also, UT beat the Canes for safety Byron Moore. Will there be another yearly flip this season? If so, smart money is on Keith Bryant -- a four-star defensive tackle who wants to visit the Vols.
- Bryant is a major name to watch, but I'm curious how UT lets the numbers play out at defensive line. The Vols would certainly take a commitment from five-star JUCO DT Toby Johnson of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. That's Patterson's stomping grounds, and Vols assistant Brandon Staley was the defensive coordinator there last year. Campbell and Bradley are also Dragons. Then there's Alabama DT Rod Crayton, who is a possibility.
- Miles -- the UT commit -- is visiting Knoxville this weekend and then visiting Arizona State the next weekend.
- Rivals analyst Mike Farrell said nobody in the nation helped themselves more in recruiting than the Vols did the first week with the nationally televised win over N.C. State.
- Antelope Valley Community College defensive tackle Edwin Delva was supposed to visit Knoxville for the Georgia State game but had to reschedule.
- Finally, while the official visitor list is stout, there have been rumors the unofficial visitors list for the weekend could also be massive. USC commit Jalen Ramsey may be here, as may Bell. Toney and Crayton could make it up as well as UT's most logical tight end target right now -- North Carolina's Lucas Wilson.
- 2014 prospects Nick Glass [a safety committed to UGA] and Todd Kelly Jr., a UT legacy, will also be in attendance. Also, according to 247's Keith Niebhur, 2014 receiver Josh Malone from Nashville will be in attendance.
That's a lot of what I could find this week. If we win this game, it could go a loooooong way in determining what this class looks like. Go Vols!