With the early signing period behind us, the Tennessee Volunteers have plenty of holes still left to fill on the roster. Jeremy Pruitt and his staff did a really nice job of getting in on and signing guys that may have not had Tennessee at the top of their lists.
Getting JUCO guys like Jordan Allen and Dominick Wood-Anderson to commit and sign were big accomplishments. Jerome Carvin and Jeremy Banks were huge in-state gets.
So don’t get me wrong. What this staff has done to this point has been fantastic, but this roster isn’t in great shape. Tennessee has immediate needs that they are going to have to fill for 2018 and beyond. We’re in the midst of the dead period right now, but when things open back up, Pruitt and company will have their hands full to round out this roster.
Here are three spots that they need help with the most.
Tennessee was hit with a big decommitment on the day Butch Jones was fired, losing four star cornerback Jaycee Horn, who has since signed with South Carolina. Two three star corners in Brandon Cross and Tanner Ingle were likely asked to look around, creating a couple of spots for this staff to fill over the next month.
Tennessee will be looking to replace seniors Justin Martin, Emmanuel Moseley and Shaq Wiggins. Rashaan Gaulden (assuming he doesn’t bolt to the NFL), Shawn Shamburger, Baylen Buchanan are really the only corners with any legitimate experience that will return.
We’ve seen this staff get in on two top 50 cornerbacks in Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart. Pulling either one of those players would be an upset. I’ll be interested to see what other avenues they try to go down in the coming month.
As we saw near the end of the 2017 season, you better have plenty of depth up front to play in the SEC. To Butch Jones’ credit — he had that coming into the season, but the injuries piled up quickly. Now with Jashon Robertson, Brett Kendrick and Coleman Thomas out of the picture, Tennessee just needs some numbers.
Drew Richmond, Trey Smith, Marcus Tatum and Chance Hall will all return to the mix among others, but offensive line coach Will Friend is going to have to fill a new center and guard spot. Expect to see plenty of shuffling, but as I said above, the Vols just need some more bodies up front.
This staff already has Jerome Carvin, Ollie Lane and Tanner Antonutti signed. They are also in on a couple of JUCO offensive lineman in Jahmir Johnson and Johncarlo Valentin.
It’s no secret that Tennessee struggled to get after the passer this past season. They were tasked with replacing Derek Barnett, and no one was really able to step up to become a difference maker. With Jeremy Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer likely moving to a 3-4 base look, they’ll be looking for different types of players than we’ve seen in the past.
Getting JUCO OLB/DE Jordan Allen was a big deal, because he fits the mold of a 3-4 edge rusher. That will help, but Tennessee needs more guys like him. Junior Austin Smith is another that fits that mold — maybe Deandre Johnson and Darrell Taylor do too. We’ll see how this staff uses them.
Tennessee is in on JJ Peterson, who projects to be an edge rusher at the college level. Peterson is a four star prospect and Alabama is thought of as the current leader. The Vols could use at least one more pass rusher in this class, maybe Peterson is that guy.