Early Signing Day for college football is less than three weeks away, with the festivities set to begin on December 19th. Few teams are generating as much buzz heading into the 19th as Tennessee currently is. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt made it clear how essential this 2019 class will be for the next couple of seasons, and the rumblings on the trail indicate that his staff has gained serious traction for a number of high-profile recruits.
It is closing time now. We kept readers updated throughout the year on how Tennessee recruiting played out over the season, and now we are ready to make our first predictions for how the final class will look. Keep in mind that some of these recruits will be signing in February 2019, so a later version of this article will be done when the time comes (if necessary).
Below we give predictions for the 2019 cycle and take a guess at who ends up joining the class.
Tennessee Finishes Top-10
The Volunteers currently rank 15th in the nation according to 247Sports Team Rankings. They have 20 commits, but are expected to lose one or two lower ranked players and gain a handful of highly rated prospects. If they land who I think they will, it would put them right outside the top-5. Even if they land just half of them, they will be in good standing for a top-8 class. The path towards an elite class is right in front of Pruitt, and that is why I am predicting they will achieve their goal.
The Vols Sign One of the Best Offensive Line Classes in the Nation
Tennessee already did most of the legwork here by gaining commitments from top offensive tackle Wanya Morris, guard Jackson Lampley, and tight end Jackson Lowe. All three are rated 4-stars or higher. Not surprisingly, both Morris and Lowe were heavily pursued by big name programs who were trying to pull off flips. Lowe still is, but he seems very solid to the Volunteers. Lampley is so solid to Tennessee that other programs have all but given up hopes of getting their foot in the door.
The underrated part of the offensive line class is the depth. In addition to those blue-chip prospects, Tennessee currently holds commitments from 3-star guard Melvin McBride, 3-star tight end Sean Brown, and 3-star tackle Chris Akporoghene. McBride and Akporoghene are regarded as high-potential prospects who could turn into dominant starters in college. McBride was a flip candidate for a while, but that seems to have cleared up. Akporoghene was wanted by programs like Oregon, Texas, and Arkansas before he committed to Tennessee—which should tell you how he is seen by college staffs, and not recruiting sites.
I will predict that Tennessee signs all six of the aforementioned players. I also think that they add one more 5-star tackle in Darnell Wright. That brings them to seven total signees on the line, with two being 5-stars and two others being 4-stars. Such an offensive line would totally revamp the current roster and provide a nice building block for the future offense.
Add: Darnell Wright, Trezmen Marshall (ESD), Eric Gray (ESD), Khafre Brown, Jammie Robinson
Subtract: LeDarrius Cox
Tennessee Owns the Early Signing Period
There has been plenty of speculation regarding the early signing period on Rocky Top and most of it has been very good news.
Even Tyson Helton said that fans will be very excited when the time comes after leaving the program for his new head coaching gig at Western Kentucky.
Maybe Helton was trying to gas up the fan base after ditching them, but regardless, it was good to hear him say that.
The earlier the players can get on campus, the better. Something tells me Tennessee will get that done later in the month.
Kahfre Brown Comes to Knoxville
Even though Tennessee has plenty of options at receiver, they could always use more bodies to add depth to the unit. So far, just one wideout is committed in four-star prospect Ramel Keyton.
Similar to Clint’s prediction, I think Brown decides to become a Tennessee Volunteer before it’s all said and done. He was trending toward Tennessee on 247’s Crystal Ball around Thanksgiving and I don’t think anything will change.
Despite the plethora of options at the position, the Vols signed just one receiver in 2018 - Cedric Tillman - and the quartet of Marquez Callaway, Jauan Jennings, and Brandon Johnson will all be seniors heading into the 2019 season.
Brown is a complete receiver. He can make the tough catches, get over the top of the defense with his speed, runs excellent routes, and can make defenders miss in space.
It’s been awhile since Tennessee has had a player like Brown. The most recent that comes to mind is Cordarrelle Patterson. I’m not saying Brown is the next Patterson, but based off what I’ve read and watched, it sure seems that he could be.
He would be a great complementary piece to this offense and could develop into a star.
Add: Dywan Griffin, Eric Gray, Khafre Brown
Subtract: LeDarrius Cox