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Orange Carpet Day Yields Eight Commitments, Vols Move Into 2017 Top 10

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NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Butch Jones has used a number of different pathways to what we hope becomes championship recruiting over the last four years. His first full class in 2014 took advantage of a banner year in-state with mid-March commitments from Jalen Hurd and Todd Kelly Jr., adding the class’s top-rated player Josh Malone in December. In 2015 the Vols used summertime commitments from Kahlil McKenzie and Alvin Kamara to lay an elite foundation, then closed strong in the final weeks with Kyle Phillips and Drew Richmond. Last year Jarrett Guarantano was an early torchbearer at quarterback, but the Vols did the rest of their best work at the end with Nigel Warrior, Tyler Byrd, and keeping Jonathan Kongbo in the fold.

The 2017 class featured three four-star commits coming into this year’s Orange Carpet Weekend, including safety Maleik Gray from last weekend, currently the Vols’ top-rated prospect. But the class as a whole seemed thin with just ten total commitments, and ranked outside the Top 20 in the 247 Composite.

That problem was solved today with a ton of prospects walking the orange carpet on campus, when the Vols added six players to the Class of 2017 and one to the Class of 2018:

  • S Theo Jackson (Nashville, TN)
  • DE LaTrell Bumphus (Savannah, TN)
  • WR Princeton Fant (LaVergne, TN)
  • DE Tre Lawson (North Augusta, SC)
  • OT Jordan Tucker (Roswell, GA)
  • ATH Trey Coleman (West Monroe, LA)
  • 2018 ATH Alontae Taylor (Manchester, TN)
  • UPDATE: S Jaquan Henderson (Covington, GA) has also committed today

As you can see this was a big day in the state of Tennessee for Butch Jones.

All eight are three-stars, a two-word phrase guaranteed to provoke sentences with the word “but” in them from the fan-base. Whether your vocabulary includes “But why only three-stars?” or “But look at their other scholarship offers!”, we can at least agree the Vols have now laid a solid foundation for the 2017 class. 247 agrees: the Vols jumped into the Top 10 at #9. (UPDATE: with Henderson’s commitment the Vols are at #7).

Just as important if not more so, Tennessee remains at or near the top of the list for several undecided elite prospects, including five-star Oak Ridge WR Tee Higgins. If Butch Jones and company follow up with their usual strong close, the Vols will be in line for their fourth consecutive Top 15 class. And if the on-field product follows through by translating all this elite recruiting into championships, I think Tennessee’s recruiting will continue to be more than fine.