Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
As the Tennessee Volunteers fans who follow recruiting wait with bated breath to see what five-star running back Derrick Henry will do on Friday, here's a hint: Don't make plans to celebrate. Here's another tidbit -- it'll probably still be OK. There are other options. Read about them here.
Friday appears to be Decision Day for five-star athlete Derrick Henry of Yulee, Fla. Henry broke the state's single-game rushing record Friday night with Jay Graham in attendance.
Simply put, he's a beast.
But it appears that -- just like most of today's top-notch recruits -- Henry will be playing his next three or four years in Tuscaloosa. Despite Tennessee's push through Henry's initial commitment to Georgia, decommitment and following recruitment, he has fallen for Nick Saban and the idea of playing for the Crimson Tide. The Vols helped themselves it seemed with Henry's visit for the Florida game, but many folks thought UT needed to beat the Gators to have a chance. Honestly, it still wouldn't have most likely mattered.
Given that Henry is an early enrollee set to get to school in December, it's going to be difficult for the Vols to turn him if he does the expected and chooses the Tide. Bridesmaid in recruiting is the toughest, especially in this case, where instead of playing for UT, he appears to be suiting up for our biggest rival.
So, where does that leave the Vols?
- As we mentioned last week, Tennessee is a key player for five-star running back Derrick Green -- Rivals.com's No. 1 running back -- as well as Florida back A.J. Turman, the nation's No. 9 back according to 247 Sports. Those are the top two targets after Henry [and Green may honestly be as high a priority]. Behind them, it would be former Penn State commitment David Williams, Taurean Folston and Memphis running back and current Auburn commit Jordan Wilkins. Tennessee's search for an elite runner really gets nervous now.
- UT really put itself in an excellent position with four-star JUCO wide receiver Jonathan Rumph this weekend, who had nothing but glowing things to say about the Vols. Rumph is intrigued about playing in a pass-happy system, but Mississippi State and Georgia are two of the Vols' biggest competitors for his signature. UT also remains high on the list of four-star high school receiver MarQuez North, and those are the Vols' top targets at the position along with the guy the next bullet is about.
- The Vols this week extended an offer to JUCO wide receiver Jaelen Strong, according to Volquest.com. The 6-4, 205-pound receiver out of Pierce Community College in Woodland Hills, Calif., really took off this year with offers after a monster season opener. He currently holds offers from Arizona State, Arizona, Miami, Nebraska, Ole Miss, N.C. State, Oregon State, Purdue, Tennessee and Texas Tech. Through the season's first two games, he had 15 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns. So, why should the Vols -- who got in a little late on this one -- feel strongly about their chances with Strong? One of his best friends is David Williams, and that is perhaps UT's most realistic running back target right now if Green falls through. That wouldn't be a bad package deal. Strong is originally from Philly and is known as Jaelen Strong-Rankin on the 247 Sports site, where he's the nation's No. 13 overall JUCO prospect, No. 2 JUCO receiver and a 92-rated four-star.
- The other potentially major recruiting news for the Vols this week came from the decommitment of inside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue from Maryland. Ngakoue was really high on the Vols along with teammate Derwyn Gray back in the summer, but both surprisingly committed to the Terps on a visit. Ngakoue said the Vols were second on his list when he committed. Now, he's opened it back up and lists UT as a potential destination. What does that mean for the Vols, who have four linebacker commitments already? They may have to cut somebody loose, but UT would almost assuredly take a commitment from the four-star linebacker. Sal Sunseri really likes the Washington D.C. product. That's one to watch. The Vols would also make room for UGA commit Naaim Mustafaa if he'd come.
- UT is still trying to get an official visit from JUCO tight end Beau Sandland. The Vols were a little late to the party on that one, and tight end is a major need in this class. Sandland and North Carolina's Luke Wilson, who seems down to UT and Air Force, are the top two possibilities right now. The Vols may try to get back in on Mack Weaver of Memphis, but he never really has seemed interested.
- Dan Skipper, Ben Bradley and DeVondre Campbell visited Knoxville for the Akron game and came away impressed. Those three kids are solid. Bradley mentioned that five-star DT Toby Johnson is expected to visit Knoxville in the near future. Johnson was at Oklahoma last weekend, but UT is a major player in that race. Dominic Zanca had a monster game this weekend. Here's the commitment roundup from 247.
- Speaking of GoVols247, the site has two good stories up on potential 2014 quarterback targets. There's Will Grier of North Carolina -- who made his second visit in three months and already has an offer -- and in-state QB Luke Ward, who is searching for one.
- Tennessee is still desperately trying to secure Vonn Bell's commitment at safety, and UT is in pretty good shape there, but they aren't putting all their eggs squarely in that basket. California safety Tahaan Goodman is a kid they're trying to get a visit out of.