Brandon Powell is fast.
But he didn't want to be too fast on Saturday as all of the Tennessee Volunteers' 2014 commitments on campus for UT's most recent camp pressed him to prove how much he kept saying he loved Knoxville by giving Butch Jones his verbal commitment.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound burner withheld the peer pressure. Till Sunday morning, at least.
That's when Powell told Jones prior to leaving Knoxville to head back South that he wanted to be the Vols' 16th known commitment in the 2014 recruiting cycle. The athlete boasts 4.44 40-yard dash speed, and can play a myriad of positions for Tennessee once he arrives on campus. He also boasts a 4.0 grade-point average and has an offer sheet of more than 30 schools.
He ultimately chose UT over Auburn and had offers from LSU, California, Cincinnati, Duke, N.C. State, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin and others. He can play running back, wide receiver, cornerback, etc., but is likely expected to play slot receiver for the Vols and perhaps line up in the backfield in some formations. With a dearth of speed and playmakers on offense, UT needs a player of Powell's caliber, and this is a big get for a kid who named Auburn the leader just a few days before.
He told Ryan Callahan of GoVols247 that he was done with visits.
Powell does not yet have an offer from any of the "Big Three" in-state, but that's good news to hear that if he gets one, he is solid for now with the Vols. [It goes without saying that anything can change in recruiting.] Though UT was dealt a tough blow in recruiting this weekend with the verbal pledge of top remaining quarterback target David Cornwell to Alabama, it has been a very fruitful couple of days in Knoxville.
On Friday, 2015 stud linebacker Cecil Cherry committed to Tennessee over offers from virtually everybody in the country. He is from Frostproof, Fla., which has produced UT legends Travis Henry and Alvin Harper. He's also the cousin of former All-SEC running back Tony Thompson. Now, Sunday brings the commitment of Powell from another school that produced a Vol -- former quarterback Brent Schaeffer.
Powell is lightning-quick and can really do a lot with the ball in his hands. Here's a good look at his abilities with this video. Though some analysts think he can project better at cornerback, UT wants him to be able to showcase his offensive abilities.
SB Nation Recruiting editor Bud Elliott tweeted earlier that:
"Brandon Powell is a great fit for Tennessee. Give him 5-10 touches a game as a slot or a back. Can also return punts & kicks."
That sounds like the type of player UT hopes another Floridian Alton "Pig" Howard can become. Howard has struggled to grasp the offense thus far.
Powell's commitment is much needed, but it does answer some questions as well as create more for UT on the recruiting trail.
- Obviously, Jones remains not pleased with the wide receivers on the current roster and doesn't believe there is enough explosion or definite playmakers in the bunch. While there has been positive buzz surrounding Jason Croom and MarQuez North this offseason, we haven't heard much of anybody else.
- Tennessee is not content to rest on its laurels when it comes to wide receiver recruiting. Coaches brought in North, slot receiver Ryan Jenkins, slot receiver Josh Smith and outside receiver Paul Harris in this year's class. So far committed for next year are JUCO receiver Kameel Jackson [who should play outside], JUCO receiver Jonathan Johnson [who projects as a slot and will be ready to play this year], Lawrence Lee [a three-star slot receiver not highly rated but is loved by coaches], Neiko Creamer [big, physical receiver who could and probably should play tight end or linebacker/defensive end] and Vic Wharton [slot receiver].
- There is little doubt that Tennessee really wants four-star in-state receiver Josh Malone and four-star JUCO wide receiver Eric Lauderdale -- and appear to be in good shape with each -- but, with Powell's pledge, are the Vols done at the position other than taking one or both of those guys? Some analysts believe Powell's commitment closes the door on three-star speedster Stanton Truitt. Still others believe Truitt, who is believed to be a heavy UT lean, could project more as a cornerback and may still be a take. Dominique Booth also has the Vols in the lead but may be on the outside looking in now. He camped this weekend, however, so he's not out of the question.
Tennessee has major needs to address pretty much everywhere with its remaining 13-14 spots in this recruiting class. But UT is in dire straits at receiver, according to their coaches. So, Powell fits a major need for speed on that side of the ball. Also, the Vols have struggled to find anybody to consistently catch punts and kicks outside of rising junior Devrin Young, so Powell may help on that avenue as well.
Given the work these guys have done on the recruiting trail thus far, it's pretty difficult to question them. I'm sure they have a plan on how the numbers need to shake out from this point forward, but Powell was a no-brainer, especially once the coaches saw him in person. He's a guy who has the opportunity to play a lot from day one on campus, and he helps a struggling APR as a bonus. This is a great pickup!
Welcome home, Mr. Powell!