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Tennessee Recruiting vs. Snowpocalypse

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The Vols were expecting a long list of visitors this weekend for their first junior day of the season, but old man winter had other plans.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day came and went and the Vols landed arguably the top class in the SEC, if not the nation. Tennessee continues to build momentum coming off their first winning season since 2009 and are looking to get in early with 2016's top prospects. It starts by getting those players on campus prior to the start of their senior seasons in high school and hopefully gaining commitments that eventually snowball into more commitments and another top recruiting class.

This weekend was set to be a big one for the Vols, as they scheduled several top prospect around the South for their first junior day of 2015. Unfortunately, Tennessee's junior day turned out to be a slight letdown due to the players that couldn't make the trip due to inclement weather. The weekend wasn't a complete bust, as several prospects continue to leave campus impressed with the program under Butch Jones. Before getting to the players that did make the trip, here's a recap of the players high on the Vols wishlist that failed to show up this weekend.

Joejuan Williams - Defensive Back (Nashville, TN)

Recruiting Service Stars State Rank Position Rank Overall Rank
247
4 Stars 2.0
#3 #14 #141
Rivals
4 Stars 2.0
#1 #8 #89
ESPN
4 Stars 2.0
#3 #7 #124

Joejuan, pictured above with 2016 Tennessee commit Dorian Banks, is a top priority for Tennessee, not only because of his skill set, but because he plays a need position for Tennessee as Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil will have exhausted their eligibility by the time Williams arrives. Williams currently has offers from nearly every top program in the nation, including 13 SEC schools (get with it Mizzou!).

Williams currently has Tennessee at the top of his list, as he recently stated "They (Tennessee) love me and I love them, Coach Jones is putting his team on the rise. He put together a beast class 2015 and he's trying to top that. We'll see how they do next year."

Williams is close with 2015 commit Kyle Phillips and has said Phillips is already working on him to come and play at Tennessee. Dorian Banks, Marquill Osbourne and Mecole Hardman have also been working on Williams to Rocky Top.

Mecole Hardman - Wide Receiver/Defensive Back (Elberton, Georgia)

Recruiting Service Stars State Rank Position Rank Overall Rank
247
4 Stars 2.0
#13 #9 #104
Rivals
4 Stars 2.0
#21 #6 #98
ESPN
4 Stars 2.0
#1 #3 #33

Mecole, pictured with Joejuan Williams above, is another player that Tennessee has placed a very high priority on. Coaches have told him he will have the opportunity to play receiver in Knoxville, as they look to add at least three receivers this season. Hardman currently has Tennessee as his favorite but recently said he is awaiting offers from USC, his favorite player is Reggie Bush, and Oregon. If those schools do offer, they could certainly join Clemson, Georgia, Ole Miss and South Carolina as competitors for the Vols.

Tennessee's misfortune was Georgia's gain, as Hardman visited the Bulldogs this weekend after cancelling his trip to Knoxville. Expect the Vols to do whatever they can to get Joejuan and Mecole up to Knoxville in the coming weeks. Falling behind with these two could prove to be costly on signing day.

Not all the news is gloom however, as several players were able to make the trip this weekend.

Marquill Osborne - Cornerback (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Recruiting Service Stars State Rank Position Rank Overall Rank
247
4 Stars 2.0
#9 #23 #241
Rivals
4 Stars 2.0
#4 #7 #95
ESPN
4 Stars 2.0
#6 #12 #138

Marquill has been committed to Tennessee since September of 2014 and has been the most public recruiter for the Vols on social media. The commitment of Osborne continues the current staff's pipeline into North Carolina as well as gains a prospect for a huge position of need moving forward. Osborne attended every game in Neyland last season outside of the Missouri and Florida game, and his love for the Vols is evident on social media. Despite being recruited particularly hard by LSU, Osborne is sticking with the Vols and plans on graduating early in order to enrollee in January. Osborne was actively recruiting several of the Vols' weekend visitors this weekend, including:

Donaven Tennyson - Wide Receiver (Richmond, Virginia)

Recruiting Service Stars State Rank Position Rank Overall Rank
247
3 stars 2.0
#32 #126 #914
Rivals
3 stars 2.0
N/A N/A N/A
Scout
3 stars 2.0
N/A N/A N/A

Tennyson is an under-the-radar prospect for the moment, prior to visiting the Vols Donaven had offers from ECU, Virginia, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. Tennyson walks away from this weekend with a Volunteer offer in hand after impressing the coaching staff, and coach Azzanni in particular. Expect Tennyson to continue to pile up offers as his recruitment heats up, although Osborne says he thinks Tennyson pulls the trigger on Tennessee sooner rather than later.

Josh Brown - Defensive End (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Recruiting Service Stars State Rank Position Rank Overall Rank
247
4 Stars 2.0
#7 #13 #185
Rivals
4 Stars 2.0
#14 #16 N/A
ESPN
3 stars 2.0
N/A N/A N/A

Brown is a Florida State commit, but came away impressed with the Vols this weekend. Obviously the feeling was mutual, as Tennessee offered Brown a scholarship this weekend. Brown was so impressed, he plans to return to Tennessee for the Orange and White game. Brown is a former teammate of Marquez North, expect the Vols to use that relationship to their advantage as they continue to recruit the highly regarded defensive end.

Luke Elder - Offensive Lineman (Lagrange, Georgia)

Recruiting Service Stars State Rank Position Rank Overall Rank
247
3 stars 2.0
#32 #28 #582
Rivals
3 stars 2.0
N/A #49 N/A
Scout
3 stars 2.0
N/A N/A N/A

The massive 6'5 Elder has offers from nearly every big time program in the South and will likely move up in the rankings as his recruitment continues with several visits lined up around the SEC and ACC. Luke came away impressed with the facilities in Knoxville and plans to make a return trip to the Hill at some point, but says he is far from ready to make his decision and this point. Elder would be somewhat of a luxury pickup for the Vols this season after picking up so many linemen in 2015. Butch has talked openly about developing linemen, specifically offensive linemen, and Elder would be an ideal player to come in and add talent and depth to the Vols depth chart.

Ryan Johnson - Offensive Lineman (Brentwood, Tennessee)

Recruiting Service Stars State Rank Position Rank Overall Rank
247
4 Stars 2.0
#6 #24 #217
Rivals
4 Stars 2.0
#9 #18 #243
Scout
4 Stars 2.0
#6 #25 #235

Having been previously described as #BigFreakinBrick, Johnson has been committed to the Vols since July of 2014. At 6'6" and 275 lbs going into his senior season, one has to wonder if Johnson can possibly get any bigger! The man-child Johnson has the makings of a future elite right tackle for the Vols. His presence should help the team in their efforts to recruit Luke Elder.

If the Vols can carry their offseason momentum into the 2015 season, there's no reason they can't secure another top recruiting class in 2016. Butch Jones has proven he can win recruiting battles against any coach in the nation, despite the team often struggling on the field, imagine how well his pitch will work once the team starts winning big. Tennessee is currently one of the hottest programs in the nation in prospect's eyes as they see the Vols are clearly on the rise. Many of the players listed are being offered by Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, etc. and yet Tennessee continues to beat out these significantly more successful programs in recent history. Talent doesn't guarantee anything in college football, but a lack of talent certainly does. As Tennessee embarks on Butch's fourth season in Knoxville, I don't expect the Vols to ever have to worry about a lack of talent under his watch again.