Recruiting is mainly about relationships, and for Kevin Mouhon, he has known Tennessee's new coaching staff for years. His older brother Silverberry had played for coach Butch Jones at Cincinnati, and Jones actually told Kevin years ago that he'd play for him, too.
On Sunday morning, those words proved prophetic as the four-star linebacker from Norcross High School outside of Atlanta committed to Tennessee. Mouhon is one of the "Norcross Three" along with national top-five player Lorenzo Carter and star athlete Myles Autry, neither of which are expected to be a factor for UT.
Mouhon had too many offers to count, including teams like Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Kentucky, Miami, Oregon, Ole Miss, Penn State and others. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker can play either inside or outside but is expected to play inside at UT. He told recruiting analysts that he wanted to leave his own legacy and help the Vols get back to where they once were.
Mouhon has a strong relationship with another Vol who is a Norcross grad, wide receiver Jason Croom. His primary recruiter was running backs coach Robert Gillespie, and UT survived the full-court press from several teams to wind up getting Mouhon. He said recently that he was tiring of the recruiting process, and UT has been thought to be in good shape for a while now.
Mouhon is the nation's No. 16 inside linebacker as rated by 247Sports. Rivals rates him the 15th-best inside linebacker in the nation. ESPN believes he's the 12th-best outside 'backer and the No. 264 overall player in the country. Scout has him as the 25th-rated middle linebacker.
UT was the first of those many programs to offer Mouhon, and that stood out to him. He is the 24th known commitment in this year's class, though one of those is supposed to gray shirt, leaving UT with seven more spots in this year's class. Five projected linebackers have pledged to the Vols, and they could take another one if/when the right one decided to pull the trigger. Four-star Mouhon, four-star top-ranked JUCO linebacker Chris Weatherd, four-star outside linebacker and legacy Dillon Bates, three-star speedster Gavin Bryant and two-star project Jerome Dews [who is widely believed to be on his way to a gray shirt] are the others.
Thus far, Mouhon is the sixth pledge for UT during its first ever "Foundation Week." Four-star receiver Eric Lauderdale, four-star safety Cortez McDowell, three-star offensive lineman Ray Raulerson, four-star receiver Dominique Booth, in-state safety RaShaan Gaulden and now four-star linebacker Kevin Mouhon have all committed this week.
Mouhon has a very projectable frame and really has great speed for an inside linebacker. He has been a top priority for the Vols for a long time and really shores up what has become a great linebacking class. There are some analysts who've said if Bryant had everything checked out academically, etc., he'd have a shot at four stars, which would make the Vols' linebacking class really sick. UT is still trying with five-star linebacker Clifton Garrett, three-star Vanderbilt commit Emmanuel Smith and Elliott Berry, who would probably project as yet another linebacker.
Mouhon -- like all other position mates in this class -- have the opportunity to come in and play early and often for UT. The Vols lose seven linebackers to graduation or eligibility after this year's team. If A.J. Johnson or Curt Maggitt left early, that number would be even higher. Linebacker was one of many major needs this year, and UT has really done a great job addressing it. With the core of the class already in place, UT now should look to fill it out with some beef on the defensive side of the ball.