Tennessee has needs all over the football field. That much was evident against Arkansas, against Alabama, against LSU. But with a couple of offensive additions in this year's class, the Vols have a chance to be really, really dynamic next year on offense.
Consider that Tyler Bray will be healthy, Justin Hunter will be healthy, Da'Rick Rogers will be back from what might be a 1,000-yard season, Mychal Rivera will be a senior and have another year in the weight program, our offensive line will also have more time to get much stronger ... something they desperately need.
Some problems aren't completely fixable in this year's recruiting class. But one thing that UT can certainly do is add a couple more targets for Bray. The top two options on the recruiting board are expected to be in Knoxville this weekend when UT hosts Vanderbilt.
- The first target set for Knoxville this weekend is Hutchinson Community College wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound former teammate of Justin Worley at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, S.C. Patterson is probably down to UT, Georgia and Auburn with the Vols and Dawgs out front. He is the top overall JUCO player according to Rivals and has 50 catches for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns along with three kick return TDs. He is an exceptional talent with elite speed who, coupled with Hunter and Rogers, would make UT's receiving corps pretty formidable. The Vols have commitments from Drae Bowles, Jason Croom and Keithon Redding, and they're still in on another speedy athlete in Alton "Pig" Howard, but Patterson is one of those make-a-class type players. The Vols will try to impress him this weekend.
- Next is tight end Justin Meredith. Way back at the start of summer, before most kids began picking their schools of choice, UT targeted a couple of tight ends they really wanted: South Carolina's Meredith and Buford, Ga., TE Kurt Freitag. Meredith was thought to be an early Clemson lean, but he was blown away by his trip to North Carolina and chose the Tar Heels. Then, Butch Davis was fired. Now, Everett Withers -- with whom Meredith has built a relationship -- doesn't look to be retained. With the early enrollee needing to make a decision soon and UNC's NCAA situation up in the air, all of the momentum is with the Vols, who are the other finalist. He actually visited UT within the past month, and the 6-5, 210-pound TE will again this weekend. If he sees everything he wants, it wouldn't be a stretch to think UT can pull this commitment. According to Rivals, the Anderson native is the 13th ranked TE in the country and fifth-ranked player in the state. 247 Sports has him as a three-star player and the 52-ranked TE. Scout has him as a three-star and 17th ranked TE. ESPN has got him at four stars and the sixth-ranked TE. He has offers from UNC, Notre Dame, Auburn, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Clemson, NC State, Va Tech, South Carolin and others. Frietag, by the way, will choose between Bama and Florida next month.
Now, onto some more quickies:
- The commitment of Paris, Tenn., OL Andrew Jelks to Vanderbilt over longtime favorite Tennessee last Saturday wasn't shocking, but it was pretty disappointing. Credit James Franklin for the flashy recruitment of a budding tackle prospect that should be an good player in a couple of years. The Vols had Jelks as really their only OL left on the board, so now the Vols will ramp up the heat evaluating other guys. They also won't stop recruiting Jelks, much like they haven't Florida commit DJ Humphries. Still, this one looks over. Jelks was impressed how Franklin made Jelks a priority, and he wasn't enamored with the Vols' depth chart. Just another Tennessee "fan" going elsewhere. Good riddance, IMO.
- On the Color-Me-Worried front, Florida will host UT commitment Damien Jacobs and Vols lean [and probably the biggest need on the board] Denico Autry this weekend. Jacobs' commitment has been very shaky, as he had told multiple Texas A&M sites that he wasn't sure UT was where he wanted to go. After the Vols weathered the Aggies storm, Florida came calling, and Jacobs is listening. Tennessee needs to close on both of these prospects, and the Gators have swooped in and stolen guys before late in the process such as Edwin Hebert and Michael Taylor. This one could get interesting ... and worrisome. The Gators are also a team to watch out for -- along with Alabama -- for Pig Howard. For what it's worth, Ryan Callahan did a story on Autry, who still doesn't list Florida in his top group.
- I don't know if I'd call it HUGE news for Tennessee, but it was certainly good news when five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton of Ramsey, N.J. pushed back his decision.He was originally set to announce very soon, and his top group included Rutgers, Florida and California. But Rutgers is the only school he has visited. He will now take visits, including to UT along with some other marquee destinations. This is a longshot, but at least a shot.
- Still looking for speed in this year's class -- a huge need -- the Vols offered Athens, Ga., RB Quenshaun Watson last week. Watson's only other offer is Indiana, and the 5-9, 180-pound runner says right now, it's between those schools. That seems interesting, and it makes me think that UT has him on the backburner right now as the Vols await decisions by Beniquez Brown and Mario Pender. Some Florida State fans are very worried UT is a real factor with Pender. Many People Who Know These Things think Brown will join his cousin at Mississippi State.
- South Florida commitment and three-star cornerback Chris Bivins does not appear concerned that UT just took a commitment from fellow Florida DB Daniel Gray last week. The 5-11, 175-pound CB who is a former teammate of Jordan Williams and Trevarris Saulsberry and a cousin of Curt Maggitt will visit UT next month.
- The Vols are expected to host Virginia 2013 running back Derrick Green -- almost assuredly a top-flight prospect in next year's class -- this weekend. Green has already seen the Vols recently, and UT looks like one of the early favorites for the speed-burner. Also, 6-foot-6, 305-pound DJ Park of South Carolina visited the Vols during the Gamecocks game and loved it. He also holds offers from SC, Clemson, Auburn, Florida, LSU, North Carolina and UT. The Vols are also in early thanks to Peter Sirmon, on 6-4, 225-pound DE Garrett Sickels, a 2013 prospect from New Jersey. Sickels, who has 10 offers, has visited Knoxville multiple times.
- Tennessee can probably go ahead and forget about four-star DE Jordan Jenkins. The Georgia product had Alabama and Florida at the top of his list, and, after a visit to UGA this weekend, the Dawgs were impressive, too. Looks like a three-way battle for him.