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Rocky Top Recruiting Review 1/17

It was a big weekend in Knoxville. Will it produce results?

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Tennessee vs Nebraska Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee had a plethora of visitors on hand this weekend, several of whom could be huge pick-ups for the Vols as we approach National Signing Day.

In addition to hosting commits Maleik Gray, Ty Chandler and Eric Crosby, among others, the Vols were visited by key defensive line targets LaBryan Ray and Elijah Conliffe.

Conliffe seems to have enjoyed his time on Rocky Top and possibly forged a friendship with host Kahlil McKenzie. Conliffe is rated a 4-star prospect by 247Sports Composite Rankings (0.8937) out of Hampton, Va. and has a slew of other SEC and Power 5 offers. He will take one more official visit to Florida next weekend before announcing his decision on Jan. 31, but UT definitely has reason to be cautiously optimistic.

LaBryan Ray is the #1 player in Alabama and #41 overall player in the country according to 247Sports, rated 0.9791 by the Composite Rankings.

While the chances of Ray committing to Tennessee are slim - 247Sports’ Crystal Ball has a 100% chance of him going to Alabama - it’s never a bad thing to get someone on campus. Maybe he really loved the barber shop in the practice facility. Ray still has official visits to Alabama and Florida planned before he makes a decision.

In addition to trying to beef up the defense, the Tennessee coaching staff is also now focusing on maybe the most uncertain position group on the team - wide receiver. Josh Malone left for the NFL, and it remains unclear whether sophomore Tyler Byrd will remain at wide receiver or possibly be moved to defensive back.

The Vols hosted Hillsboro WR JaVonta Payton last weekend, who has been a target for some time. The 3-star receiver (0.8637) said he really enjoyed his visit and he really likes Butch Jones and his staff. Payton will still make visits to MTSU, Purdue and Ole Miss before making a decision.

Hopefully the Vols can finish strong in these last couple weeks before NSD. Be sure to check back next week!