Mel Kiper Jr. is in the thick of NFL Draft season, but he stopped to take some time to talk about the Tennessee Volunteers on Wednesday. On a conference call, Kiper zeroed in on Jeremy Pruitt’s 2019 recruiting class — you know, since Tennessee doesn’t exactly have a ton of draftable talent in this year’s group.
“It’s just a case of just building it,” Kiper said of Tennessee. “I think Jeremy Pruitt, the recruiting class coming in this year, is outstanding.
“But I think it’ll change now. With these recruits that are coming in, it’s all tied to that, the recruits that are coming in are going to get back to Tennessee to having a lot of early-round picks.”
Kiper admitted that there’s not a great chance Tennessee has a player drafted this year, which sort of paints the picture of the mess that Jeremy Pruitt inherited. Honestly, that should never happen at a program like Tennessee.
We saw Rashaan Gaulden, John Kelly and Kahlil McKenzie get their names called last year. We haven’t really talked about any NFL Draft stuff on here this year, because — well — there’s just not many options. Former five-star recruit Kyle Phillips, who participated in the East-West Shrine Game, might be the Vols’ only chance. Shy Tuttle or Quart’e Sapp have a small chance to go on day three.
Focusing on the 2019 class, Pruitt reeled in two five-star tackles — each of whom rank inside the top 30 overall in the class. Four-star linebackers Henry To’oto’o and Quavaris Crouch were on the fringe of five-star caliber players. Other guys like Ramel Keyton, Eric Gray, Tyus Fields and Jaylen McCollough could push for early playing time too.
You can’t forget about the additions of Aubrey Solomon and Deangelo Gibbs, either. We’ll see if the NCAA grants them waivers to play in 2019.
The infusion of talent while putting out a 5-7 product on the field has been impressive. The trick, of course, is turning that talent into victories. Pruitt has a long way to go before he builds an Alabama or a Georgia type program, but he’s off to a pretty solid start.