The 2019 recruiting cycle has come and gone. Tennessee ended up finishing with the 12th ranked class in the country, according to 247 Sports. In that class are handful of prospects who could find the field early in Knoxville. Here’s my best bets to make that happen.
Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright
Starting with the obvious, Tennessee’s two highest ranked prospects will be asked to play early on. It’s a big position of need for the Vols, especially considering the retirement of Chance Hall, uncertainty around Trey Smith and the likely transfer of Drew Richmond. Their paths are quite clear to the left and right tackle positions in 2019, which is probably one reason why each landed in Knoxville.
Henry To’oto’o and Quavaris Crouch
It’s not exactly a secret that Tennessee lacks difference-makers in their front seven. The Vols are set up with senior leadership at the inside linebacker position, but don’t have much else at the position. That’s where To’oto’o and Crouch come into play. We don’t really know where Crouch will end up full time, but at his size (6-1) he may not have the length to stick on the edge. We do know it will be somewhere in the teeth of the defense though.
I’m guessing both end up on the inside, providing instant depth behind Daniel Bituli and Darrin Kirkland Jr. We shouldn’t forget about JJ Peterson in this equation either, who has a full season to get into football shape after joining the program late in 2018. If Peterson can live up to his hype, this will be quite the linebacker group come 2020.
Harrison rose at the end of the recruiting cycle, cracking 247’s top 200 players in the 2019 class. His sack numbers (8.5 in both 2017 and 2018) look pedestrian at first glance, until you realize that he played at nose tackle in high school, despite weighing just 230 pounds. He’ll kick out to the outside at Tennessee, playing a big time position of immediate need for the Vols.
Harrison lacks elite size, but will likely get a chance to get into the rotation right off the bat, thanks to Tennessee’s lack of pass rushing talent.
Micah Abernathy and Todd Kelly Jr. have exited the safety depth chart, leaving Trevon Flowers, Theo Jackson and Nigel Warrior. It wouldn’t take much for the Under Armour All-American to crack the rotation or perhaps start in a box safety role. McCollough can make an impact as a run defender for the Vols from week one.
Tennessee graduated their entire defensive line and don’t have too many clear answers on the roster. This is going to be an interesting battle to follow throughout the offseason, but a name you can expect to be in the mix is Savion Williams. The 6-4, 300 pound defensive tackle was the top rated JUCO player at his position in the 2019 cycle.
Expect to see Williams alongside Emmit Gooden — and perhaps Aubrey Solomon, if Tennessee can secure a waiver from the NCAA.