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Tennessee Football Recruiting Update: Kyle Phillips and Message Board Rumors Explained

Update: Tennessee has confirmed that freshmen Derrell Scott, Dewayne Hendrix, and Daniel Helm will transfer. The Vols host four important visitors this weekend, and three top Tennessee targets are expected to make commitment announcements this Monday, December 15th. We also consider the impact of a few widely circulated message board rumors.

"You won't have Nate Peterman to kick around any more, because gentlemen, this is my last appearance."
"You won't have Nate Peterman to kick around any more, because gentlemen, this is my last appearance."
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Three Top Tennessee Targets Announcing on Monday

The holiday recruiting dead period starts Monday, December 15th, with the NCAA forbidding all contact between prospects and institutions until the end of the dead period on January 14th. The Vols are hosting four official visitors starting today for the last official recruiting weekend of the year, with Tennessee commitments Quinten Dormady, Alvin Kamara, and Chance Hall expected on campus along with top in-state target Kyle Phillips (see below). All four visits are important for the 2015 class, with Dormady expected to remain on campus and participate to some extent in the bowl practices, and Phillips (and more importantly, his mother) taking an in-depth look at the Tennessee facilities and coaching staff. The Vols are still in hot pursuit of a number of targets, with three prospects expected to make decisions within the next week.

Darrin Kirkland, Jr., image courtesy 247 Sports

Elite Inside Linebacker Expected to Choose the Vols

Darrin Kirkland, Jr., a four star linebacker from Indianapolis (Lawrence Central High) has moved up his announcement date from the U.S. Army All American Bowl (January 3rd) to this coming Monday at 4 PM. Kirkland is consensus top ten inside linebacker prospect ranked in the top 200 recruits by every service, and according to most reports is the top inside linebacker remaining on Tennessee's recruiting wishlist. Formerly committed to Michigan, he decommitted several weeks prior to Brady Hoke's firing, and immediately reached out to the Tennessee coaching staff, as the Volunteers finished as runner-ups to the Wolverines for his original commitment. Kirkland will choose between Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss, but is widely expected to choose the Vols, with sixteen straight Crystal Ball predictions for the Big Orange at 247 Sports. Should Kirkland commit to the Vols, he will more than make up for linebacker Cecil Cherry's decommitment and give Tennessee another very good player to to add to the collection of young talent competing to replace senior AJ Johnson.

Kyle Phillips, image courtesy 247 Sports

In-State Duo Move Up Commitment Dates

In Nashville, three star cornerback Ugo Amadi (Overton High) and four star strongside defensive end Kyle Phillips (Hillsboro High) are also expected to announce their commitments (UPDATE: Amadi will make an announcement, while Phillips may or may not) following crucial in-home visits by several members of the Tennessee coaching staff including head coach Butch Jones, defensive coordinator Jon Jancek, and defensive coaches Willie Martinez and Tommy Thigpen. It has widely been rumored that Amadi and Phillips are a package deal along with Phillips' teammate and current Tennessee commitment athlete Vince Perry. Amadi is currently committed to Ole Miss, and both prospects are expected to choose between the Rebels, Tennessee, and LSU. Another U.S. Army All American recruit, Phillips is the more highly rated prospect, checking in among the top ten strongside defensive ends and among the top 200 players overall. However, Amadi is also an elite athlete with offers from Ole Miss, LSU, and Penn State, among others, with his lack of size mitigated by his elite speed. It's somewhat unlikely that the Vols would have recruited Amadi without the spillover effect on Phillips, so if Amadi commit to Tennessee, the Vols will probably part ways with Darrell Miller, another speedy but undersized cornerback prospect. Phillips might be worth the current recruiting shenanigans, as he is both a tremendous athlete at a position of need and an in-state product coveted by Tennessee's SEC rivals.

Message Board Rumors Explained

Reading the tea leaves from various message board insiders can often lead to insight into future roster changes and recruiting decisions, but, as always, should be taken with a grain of salt. Presented here strictly for entertainment value are a few of the more interesting current whispers.

  • Rumor: Nathan Peterman will transfer following the bowl game.
    Why you should care:Peterman is a redshirt sophomore, meaning that he has the same remaining eligibility as Josh Dobbs, only with one fewer season to play (if you didn't remember this, take a look at the Tennessee scholarship matrix I posted in July). With two quarterbacks (Quinten Dormady and Jauan Jennings) committed in the 2015 class, and both expected to enroll early, Peterman may have decided that he'd have a better opportunity to earn meaningful snaps on another football team. This rumor would also explain some of the Vols' dalliance with four star quarterback Sheriron Jones, who recently decommitted from Florida, although it's unlikely that Tennessee would take three scholarship quarterbacks in one recruiting class.
    Likelihood: High
  • Rumor: Drae Bowles will graduate early and leave Tennessee.
    Why you should care: A highly rated wide receiver recruit and a good student (he was the first pick in the offseason Volympics), Bowles was never able to overcome nagging injuries and a crowded depth chart to contribute on the football field. If he leaves in good standing and with his degree, it will be hard not to pull for this young man, whatever his next move may be.
    Likelihood: High
  • Rumor: Riyahd Jones will transfer following the bowl game.
    Why you should care: Jones, a JUCO transfer from Garden City Community College, hasn't seen the field yet this year and has only a single tackle in his Tennessee career, despite the Vols' lack of experience in the secondary. Because he hasn't played this year, Jones could apply for a redshirt and still have a year left to play at another school.
    Likelihood: Somewhat
  • Rumor: Derrell Scott is leaving the team for personal reasons.
    Why you should care: Tennessee's running back depth chart for 2015 currently reads "1. Jalen Hurd, 2. FILE NOT FOUND". The 2015 recruiting class is expected to help, with JUCO commitment and former second ranked all purpose back Alvin Kamara penciled in as an immediate impact player, and the Vols currently pursuing a number of other highly ranked recruits, but Scott would be no worse than the number two running back if spring practice were to begin tomorrow. However, after an injury plagued year that started when he broke his hand/wrist during a Circle of Life drill, Scott is allegedly tired of tough practices and is ready to return home to North Carolina, with NC State a likely transfer destination. This rumor would explain Tennessee's renewed interest in 2015 running backs, despite having two backs currently committed (Kamara and soft verbal commitment Rocky Reid).
    Likelihood: Ridiculous, not because it's unlikely, but because college kids are idiots. CONFIRMED. Scott has been released from his scholarship and is free to transfer. Still ridiculous.
  • Rumor: Dewayne Hendrix has asked for his release.
    Why you should care: Hendrix, who is Scott's roommate, was Tennessee's most highly ranked defensive line recruit last year. A physical specimen, Hendrix seemed poised to contend for a starting position next year with an entire offseason to learn the nuances of defensive line play that seemed to elude him at times this year. With fellow freshman defensive end Joe Henderson mired in NCAA limbo, Hendrix would have been firmly in the mix for snaps with LaTroy Lewis behind starters Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen. Hendrix is from a suburb of Saint Louis, and his recruitment came down to Tennessee and Missouri, so the other other Tigers would be a likely transfer destination should it come down to that. Unfortunately for Hendrix, it's extremely unlikely that Butch Jones would release a recruit to an SEC East rival, especially a highly ranked defensive line recruit. If the rumor is true, here's hoping it's simply a case of homesickness, and that cooler heads prevail. This rumor would also explain why the Vols have continued to recruit multiple weakside defensive ends despite the plethora of options currently on campus.
    Likelihood: Equally ridiculous, but likely to be true if the above is true. CONFIRMED. Hendrix will transfer.
  • Rumor: Treyvon Paulk could be reinstated.
    Why you should care: Paulk, a freshman running back from Georgia, was dismissed from the Tennessee football team following a late night assault accusation by his ex-girlfriend. Despite an incident report from the Sheriff's Office, Paulk was never charged in the altercation and has remained enrolled in classes at the university. It's alleged that Paulk's ex-girlfriend has recanted her story, and that she now claims that she was the aggressor in the (quite probably alcohol fueled) incident. If true, his reinstatement would provide meaningful depth and a more hard-nosed running style behind current starting running back Jalen Hurd. It would also help with the recruitment of his former high school teammate and friend, four star outside linebacker Quarte Sapp. Needless to say, domestic violence has been a prominent story in the sports media (deservedly) for the last several months, so Paulk would likely need to be squeaky clean in order for the coaching staff to even consider a reinstatement.
    Likelihood: Uncertain.

Heard another recruiting rumor? Feel free to send me an email, or post in the comments, as long as it doesn't violate our community guidelines.