Tennessee Recruiting: Commitment Capsules

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into National Signing Day, the Tennessee Volunteers have 18 verbal or signed commitments. Here are their capsules.

The Tennessee Volunteers have met several needs -- and left several unfilled -- heading into National Signing Day. Here is a brief breakdown of all UT's commitments, their vitals and a description of their attributes.

EARLY ENROLLEES

These players are already enrolled at the University of Tennessee and going to class. They will be able to participate in spring practice. Well, everybody besides Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who recently had surgery that will keep him out.

JALEN REEVES-MAYBIN 6-1, 200 ATHLETE/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER CLARKSVILLE, TN (NORTHEAST HIGH SCHOOL)

Chose UT over: Ole Miss, Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Vanderbilt

RATINGS: 247 four stars; Rivals four stars; Scout four stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: Tennessee won an early recruiting battle with the Ole Miss Rebels for JRM's services, and now they've got a do-it-all player who projects at several different positions. Many believe that he will end up at outside linebacker or safety, but the previous coaching staff recruited him with the intentions of playing him in the defensive backfield, so it will be interesting to see where he winds up. He's also athletic enough to play running back, for what it's worth, though not many are talking about that being a destination. JRM never swayed on his UT commitment through the firing of the Vols staff, and he is already enrolled in classes. However, surgery will likely keep him from participating in the spring.

PAUL HARRIS 6-4, 195 WIDE RECEIVER UPPER MARLBORO, MD (FREDERICK DOUGLASS HS)

Chose UT over: Oregon, Southern Cal, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, East Carolina, etc.

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals four stars; Scout three stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: Harris has a brother on UT's track team, so the Vols had an inside track with the Maryland product, though they had to fend off Southern Cal early and Oregon late for his services. Harris was once thought to be leaning to Lane Kiffin, but with the Trojans' scholarship crunch, there was some doubt whether or not he'd have been accepted. Still, many teams including Oregon and Michigan came calling when Dooley was fired, and Butch Jones' first stellar recruiting job was done with his in-home visit that kept Harris in the fold. Players already are raving about his work ethic and instant-impact ability.

LEMOND JOHNSON 5-11, 190 SAFETY/NICKEL BACK FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (COOPER CITY HS)

Chose UT over: Auburn, Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, LSU, Minnesota, South Florida, Vanderbilt, etc.

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: The first coup by UT and new defensive backs coach Willie Martinez was to get Johnson to flip from Auburn to Tennessee. It was uncertain whether the Tigers would have been able to accept Lemond as an early enrollee, and since he wanted to go to school in December, the door was opened in Knoxville. He was UT's first official visitor under the new staff, and Martinez locked him up shortly after. Johnson is an impressive looking athlete who has the versatility to play free safety or nickel back, and he will have every opportunity to get on the field early in such a poor secondary.

COREY VEREEN 6-2, 235 LINEBACKER WINTER GARDEN, FL (WEST ORANGE HS)

Chose UT over: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Florida State, etc.

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars; ESPN four stars

QUICK LOOK: The previous coaching staff -- namely Sal Sunseri -- absolutely loved Vereen, who looks more like a defensive end than a linebacker since arriving on campus. Still, the new staff like him to play on the second level as of now, and he has impressive speed for a man his size. Vereen committed to UT early and -- like JRM -- never wavered. He has the athletic ability and the offer sheet to make some believe he's capable of coming in and contributing. Going through a spring practice will pay major dividends as he tries to work his way into the rotation.

RIYAHD JONES 6-0, 186 CORNERBACK COLUMBUS, GA (CARVER HS/GARDEN CITY CC)

Chose UT over: Ole Miss, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Houston, Indiana

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: Another early grab by the new coaching staff worked wonders when the new staff secured a visit from Jones, who seemed primed to go to Ole Miss, Indiana or Kansas State. Instead, he was a Vol once he visited, and he comes into school with a chip on his shoulder and looking for immediate playing time. Jones originally committed to Georgia Southern out of high school where he started as a true freshman. Believing he could play on the next level, Jones left school and enrolled in JUCO. Now, he has his chance in the SEC with the Vols.

EXPECTED TO SIGN TODAY

MARQUEZ NORTH 6-4, 212 WIDE RECEIVER CHARLOTTE, N.C. (MALLARD CREEK HS)

Chose UT over: North Carolina, Florida, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, etc.

RATINGS: 247 four stars; Rivals four stars; Scout four stars; ESPN four stars

QUICK LOOK: Without question, North is the current centerpiece of this class and will be unless UT pulls a signing day coup and gets Vonn Bell in the fold. Still, North is the offensive jewel, Rivals.com's second-ranked wide receiver in the entire class. Only an injury kept him from being in the five-star conversation, and with Mallard Creek not having a good quarterback this year, they put North in the Wildcat, and he ran them deep into the playoffs. He was thought to be a North Carolina lean at one time, and Clemson liked its chances, too. In the end, Jones, Jay Graham and the lure to playing in the nation's best conference were too much to turn down. We've got our heir apparent to Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.

JASON CARR 6-6, 270 STRONGSIDE DEFENSIVE END MEMPHIS, TN (WHITE STATION HS)

Chose UT over: Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida, Clemson, LSU, Mississippi State, Nebraska Cincinnati, etc.

RATINGS: 247 four stars; Rivals four stars; Scout four stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: The other major star of this class who has instant-impact ability is Carr, a jumbo defensive end who was one of UT's earliest commitments. He stuck strong with the Vols through the coach firings, and though he opened up his recruitment late, visiting Alabama, a late in-home visit by Jones sealed the deal. He turned down the opportunity to visit Ole Miss and will stick with his original pledge to UT, where his brother is a student. Carr is a massive force who has the body to grow into a defensive tackle or the quickness and burst to rush off the edge. He will find himself in the mix for playing time in 2013.

AUSTIN SANDERS 6-5, 295 OFFENSIVE TACKLE CLEVELAND, TN (BRADLEY CENTRAL)

Chose UT over: Arkansas, Vanderbilt, etc.

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals four stars; Scout three stars; ESPN four stars

QUICK LOOK: The Vols' earliest commitment has also been their strongest pledge. Sanders had early opportunities from Alabama and Vanderbilt, among others, but the lifelong Vols fan wouldn't hear of going anywhere but UT. He has recruited for Tennessee, and as the only potential exterior lineman in the class, he should find himself smack-dab in the middle of the rotation by 2014. Sanders is blessed with pretty good athletic ability for his size and his strength made him a coveted prospect early. Once UT offered though, it was over.

RYAN JENKINS 5-11, 182 WIDE RECEIVER MARIETTA, GA (LASSITER HS)

Chose UT over: Clemson, Louisville, Houston, Mississippi State

RATINGS: 247 four stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars; ESPN four stars

QUICK LOOK: Unbelievably, Dooley didn't offer a four-star legacy from Atlanta who bleeds orange. Go figure? However, once Jones made Jenkins a priority, it didn't take long for him to back out on his longtime pledge to Clemson and commit to UT. Jenkins immediately began recruiting for the Vols, trying to lure buddies like Carl Lawson, Peyton Barber and Joshua Dobbs. Those labors haven't paid off yet, but Jenkins also has tons of ties to next year's class. Most importantly, though, he's a player. Jenkins is the perfect slot receiver, and he is skilled enough and runs good enough routes to find himself in the mix with hard work. It would be hard to argue he isn't the team MVP of the class because he kind of got the ball rolling with the new staff.

JABO LEE 5-8, 172 RUNNING BACK DILLON, S.C. (DILLON HS)

Chose UT over: East Carolina

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars, ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: As running back targets fell off the board, UT went to one of its backup plans. He may end up being a steal. Lee is now expected to qualify -- one of the things that led to teams such as Virginia Tech and South Carolina, who'd made early offers, to back off -- and he decided to leave his East Carolina pledge to come to UT. Lee has an incredible film, and he's got that elusiveness and North-South running ability you don't normally see from someone so small in stature. A knee injury limited him to just 130 rushing yards last year, so he's definitely an untapped commodity. It will be interesting to see how he plays out, likely being the only running back in this class.

CAMERON SUTTON 6-0, 175 CORNERBACK JONESBORO, GA (JONESBORO HS)

Chose UT over: Auburn, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: A post-coaching change visit to Auburn had Sutton thinking about flipping to the Tigers, but he visited UT the week after and it solidified his original commitment. Sutton is a great player and one of the most underrated prospects in our entire class. He possesses a really strong pivot and backpedal and looks to be pretty polished. He was coveted by several SEC teams, but he really liked Derrick Ansley from the old staff and once he got to know Martinez, he elected to stick with his commitment to UT. The Vols will be glad he did.

RILEY FERGUSON 6-3, 190 QUARTERBACK MATTHEWS, N.C. (BUTLER HS)

Chose UT over: Alabama, Clemson, Louisville, LSU

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars; ESPN four stars

QUICK LOOK: Ferguson had a pretty rough year, getting injured twice. Still, he earned an invitation to the prestigious Elite 11 camp where he still participated and showed his leadership abilities even with a wrapped thumb. The signal-caller had early offers from many of the top teams in the country, but he waited later to pull the trigger, and that's how he slipped to UT. Ferguson is pretty much a straight dropback passer, but he does possess the ability to tuck and run if the pocket collapses. All he's done at Butler is win state championships, so the Vols are getting a winner.

DYLAN WIESMAN 6-4, 313 OFFENSIVE GUARD CINCINNATI, OH (COLERAIN HS)

Chose UT over: Cincinnati, Ohio State, Ball State, Boston College, Bowling Green

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals two stars; Scout three stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: The interior lineman had an early offer from Sam Pittman and the other staff, but he elected to stay home and play for Coach Jones at Cincinnati. When they left, he decommitted, and it wasn't long until he joined them in Knoxville. Many star-gazers weren't thrilled with UT for taking this commitment, but Wiesman is tough and the coaching staff absolutely loves his nastiness. You know who else loves him? Urban Meyer. Ohio State gave him a firm offer just days before he decided to come to Knoxville. This is a kid who could enjoy a lot of playing time in Knoxville, regardless of ratings.

JOSH SMITH 6-1, 190 WIDE RECEIVER KNOXVILLE, TN (CHRISTIAN ACADEMY OF KNOXVILLE)

Chose UT over: Arkansas, Cincinnati

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout two stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: Just how much did the previous staff love Smith when he camped at Tennessee back in the summer? So much that when the coaching staff was let go, Darin Hinshaw [who landed at Cincinnati] and Jim Chaney [who landed at Arkansas] extended offers to the local boy to come to their new schools. Smith blistered UGA cornerback commitment Brendan Langley multiple times back at that camp, and despite getting injured during his senior season, was Charlie High's top target on a state champion CAK team. Smith has skills, and he has the work ethic to excel. That wide receiving corps at UT will be tough to crack, but Smith seems ready to compete.

MALIK FOREMAN 5-10, 170 CORNERBACK KINGSPORT, TN (DOBYNS-BENNETT HS)

Chose UT over: Vanderbilt, MTSU, Kentucky

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout two stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: A little more than a year ago, I saw Foreman's film and wanted UT to offer on the spot. When he committed to Vanderbilt this year without any major offers, I was puzzled and disappointed. However, it didn't take long for the new staff to see his film and his talent and swoop in to offer him a scholarship. After a visit and a grayshirt offer to his buddy Devaun Swafford, UT was able to flip him from James Franklin and the Commodores, and Foreman instantly became one of my favorite players in this class. He possesses great ball skills and game speed, and it will be fun to watch him in orange.

A.J. BRANISEL 6-4, 225 TIGHT END CHARDON, OH (NOTRE DAME-CATHEDRAL LATIN SCHOOL)

Chose UT over: Cincinnati, Ball State, Connecticut, Indiana

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout three stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: Branisel was the first of the former Bearcats commitments to decommit from Cincy and join Jones and his crew in Knoxville. Looking at his film, Branisel possesses a good frame but is very raw. With UT's needs at tight end, he may be asked to step in and play some, though it would obviously be best for him to get a redshirt year. He doesn't look great in blocking, but the Ohio product looks to be a really skilled pass-catching tight end, and a guy who will help UT once he gets in the weight room.

BRETT KENDRICK 6-5, 295 OFFENSIVE GUARD KNOXVILLE, TN (CHRISTIAN ACADEMY OF KNOXVILLE)

Chose UT over: Arkansas, Arkansas State

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals three stars; Scout two stars; ESPN three stars

QUICK LOOK: The former coaching staff loved what they saw from Kendrick at two separate camps and offered him despite very little fanfare. Pittman -- who is one of the most respected offensive line coaches in the country -- liked him enough to offer him a scholarship once he got to Arkansas, too. Kendrick is athletic for his size, and he played a bit out of place in high school at tackle. He will be an interior lineman on this level most likely, and he will not be needed right away, so it's a good opportunity to redshirt and get ready to play.

WOODY QUINN 6-6, 256 TIGHT END SANTA ANA, CA (SANTA ANA COLLEGE)

Chose UT over: Stony Brook, Fresno State, San Diego State

RATINGS: 247 three stars; Rivals two stars; ESPN two stars; Scout two stars; ESPN two stars

QUICK LOOK: One of the most intriguing prospects in the entire class, the former Pepperdine volleyball player hadn't played football since early in his high school career. But once he decided he wanted to do that and his Santa Ana film got out, Dooley and the old staff salivated over his athleticism. When Jones came in, he saw it too and recruited Quinn very hard to Knoxville. UT coaches believe he is a great mixture of raw athleticism and is strong enough to be a good blocker, and he's expected to help right away. It will be interesting to see how a person with his size and skills translates in the SEC.

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