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Tennessee Football Recruiting: Don't Forget the Early Enrollees

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Kyle Phillips: beast mode.
Kyle Phillips: beast mode.
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

With one of the nation's youngest and least experienced squads, Butch Jones has emphasized early enrollment in each of the last two recruiting classes, and the current class will follow the same pattern. Tennessee coaches expect ten recruits to be on campus today for the start of the spring academic semester, including important contributors at quarterback, running back, and defensive line. It's hard to overstate the importance of enrolling early for young players because of the exposure to the strength and conditioning, nutrition, and academic support programs, all of which can help improve the odds of success before the start of the grinding SEC season. Last year's class of early enrollees included players who earned starting positions like Ethan Wolf, Jalen Hurd, Von Pearson, and Emmanuel Moseley. Others including Owen Williams, Jakob Johnson, and Coleman Thomas also played significant minutes during the course of the season.

This year's expected early enrollees are listed below, and we'll update if there are any changes.

Quarterback

Name 247 Composite Stars Height Weight Hometown Jersey Number
Jauan Jennings 0.9233 4 6-4 188 Murfreesboro, TN 15
Quinten Dormady 0.8862 3 6-4 200 Boerne, TX ?

Both currently committed quarterbacks are expected in today, with the depth chart behind starter Joshua Dobbs and backup Nathan Peterman wide open. If Peterman were to transfer as some rumors indicate, one of the two true freshmen would become the immediate starter upon any injury to Dobbs. Jennings is an incredible athlete and dual threat quarterback who committed to Tennessee in part because the coaching staff guaranteed him a shot at slinging the ball, and he's worked diligently to improve his footwork and accuracy during his senior season. Dormady, on the other hand, is a pocket passer with prototypical size, but he missed his entire junior season due to injury and plays in a league without great competition. Expect both of the new quarterbacks to receive constant attention from Jones and Bajakian as spring practice begins.

Running back

Name 247 Composite Stars Height Weight Hometown Jersey Number
Alvin Kamara
0.9632
4
5-10.5
210
Norcross, GA 6

Kamara is the second ranked player in the junior college composite and put up sensational numbers at Hutchinson Community College last season. He was shipped out of Tuscaloosa after a redshirt year that included inconsistency on the field and rumors of off-the-field trouble, so establishing a supportive environment that encourages accountability is important. Kamara is probably going to room with his longtime friend, Jason Croom.

Offensive Line

Name 247 Composite Stars Height Weight Hometown Jersey Number
Jack Jones 0.9383 4 6-5 290 Murfreesboro, TN 66
Chance Hall 0.8585 3 6-5 305 Roanoke, VA 76

Offensive tackles Jack Jones and Chance Hall are both expected in early, which bodes well for their chances to contribute. Jones, coming off an excellent showing at the Under Armour All-American game, will be expected to compete for playing time at right tackle. Hall, on the other hand, will continue his rehab from a torn Achilles tendon under the expert supervision of the Tennessee strength and conditioning staff.

Defensive Line

Name 247 Composite Stars Height Weight Hometown Jersey Number
Shy Tuttle 0.9800 4 6-3 320 Lexington, NC 2
Kyle Phillips 0.9469 4 6-3.5 250 Nashville, TN 5
Andrew Butcher 0.9067 4 6-2 242 Alpharetta, GA 52

This is where things get really exciting: the trio of Tuttle, Phillips and Butcher would be an incredible recruiting coup for any SEC team... and they're not even half of the players who will eventually end up on campus this year. Tuttle and Butcher will probably need time in the weight room, with Tuttle carrying bad weight and Butcher lacking strength and flexibility. Phillips, on the other hand, should be able to contribute immediately, working behind freshman sensation Derek Barnett.

Linebacker/Safety

Name 247 Composite Stars Height Weight Hometown Jersey Number
Darrin Kirkland 0.9224 4 6-1 223 Indianapolis, IN 34
Stephen Griffin 0.8565 3 6-3 190 Charlotte, NC 21

Kirkland is a physical specimen who should immediately jump into the competition to replace AJ Johnson. He is also the player who is most likely (but still very unlikely) to not show up as expected on campus, if there were any behind the scenes shenanigans with Jim Harbaugh's Michigan. Griffin is a plus-sized defensive back prospect who may end up moving to linebacker (a la Cortez McDowell), but has the range to be a potential replacement at strong safety for the more limited LaDarrell McNeil.