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Four-star, in-state defensive lineman Jay Hardy commits to Auburn over Tennessee

Really bad news for Tennessee.

NCAA Football: Alabama-Birmingham at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Pruitt has this Tennessee ship turning a corner on the football field. A thrashing of South Carolina, a really competitive game with Alabama and another SEC win against Mississippi State have seemingly salvaged what looked to be a lost 2019 season.

The progress is obvious. That progress was supposed to help on the recruiting trail. So far, well, it hasn’t translated. Just over a week after losing B.J. Ojulari to LSU, Tennessee has whiffed on one of its biggest targets in the entire class.

Four-star, fringe top 100 player Jay Hardy committed to Auburn this morning, shocking the entire recruiting industry. Hardy is out of Chattanooga and Tennessee was thought of as the clear leader up until the very end.

Hardy is the 113th ranked player in the 2020 class, according to 247Sports. He’s the 5th ranked player in the state of Tennessee, meaning the Vols will once again watch one of the top talents in the state play elsewhere during the next four years. That’s a trend that absolutely has to change.

Tennessee started slow during the 2020 cycle, but the general thought was that they had several of these in-state prospects wrapped up. That hasn’t turned out to be the case just yet. Tennessee landed the linebacker trio out of Memphis a couple of weeks ago. They’ve added Keshawn Lawrence and Cooper Mays as well. This staff needs to finish strong with Tyler Baron, Omari Thomas and maybe even Reggie Grimes.

We’ve said this a ton on here, but we’ll say it again. Tennessee can’t afford to let top prospects get out of the state anymore.

All Tennessee can do right now is continue to win. They’ve got a chance to do that with these final three games, perhaps even earning 15 more practices and a bowl game.

Even with all this momentum on the football field going, this one stings for Tennessee.