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Recruiting Heat Check: Where Tennessee Stands in October

Is the class on the verge of collapsing?

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The fundamentals of Tennessee’s recruiting class have not changed for quite some time. The Volunteers have 26 commits to go along with a No. 10 ranking according to 247Sports. 12 of them are blue chips, and 11 of those are top-300. That’s a good class by any standard.

But with the losses starting to pile up on the field, what should fans expect from the 2021 haul? Is it on the verge of collapse? Are recruits still buying into the vision for Tennessee football? We try to answer that below.

What happened since August and September?

Okay, admittedly I forgot to do this article for September, so we’re doing a bit of catch-up.

Tennessee has gained three commitments since we last wrote this piece: 3-star tackle William Parker, 3-star tackle J’Marion Gooch, and 3-star athlete Christian Charles. Parker had been expected for a while and was comparatively a huge grab for the Volunteers. Alabama was high on him, and he’s got a nice highlight tape to back it up. Meanwhile, Gooch was a fast-moving storyline that sort of shocked everyone with how quickly it happened.

Same deal with Christian Charles. He’s flown under the radar for quite some time, but even then it was surprising that he committed to Tennessee when he did. Overall it was good results for Tennessee since they made offensive tackle a priority in this class (which might indicate how they feel about the depth of the room).

Who are they in it for?

5-star LB Smael Mondon
4-star CB Nyland Green
4-star CB Terrion Arnold
4-star DT Tywone Malone
4-star DT Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins
3-star LB Trevin Wallace

Removed from last update are 5-star tackle Amarius Mims (Georgia commit), 3-star tackles Rod Orr (FSU commit) and William Parker (Tennessee commit) and 3-star DE Khristian Zachary (Liberty commit).

Quick Thoughts

Tennessee commit Darrell Jackson and FSU commit Josh Farmer continue to maintain they will play at the same college. Most kids who say this don’t actually follow through. Which makes sense, different staffs have different opinions, and recruits choose what situation will fit them best. What fans should look out for is FSU offering Jackson. That would indicate a level of interest they haven’t shown before, and it would certainly put him on flip watch.

Right now the Seminoles do need defensive linemen, but they have a couple guys ahead of Jackson on the board. Early playing time is still a huge draw. I don’t expect this situation to go down in the next month or so, but later in the cycle you might see FSU turn up the pressure. Just something to keep an eye on.

With Mims heading to Georgia, right now the only player I would put Tennessee as a top choice for is Nyland Green. He was trending to the Volunteers for a while, and his decision was supposed to come before the month is over. It’s not clear if that will actually happen. If he holds off, I think Georgia becomes the pick.

Tennessee has a puncher’s chance with Tywone Malone. For those unaware, Malone is also a high level baseball recruit that will play both sports at the next level. In fact, Malone’s future pro sport might actually be baseball. Despite being from the New Jersey area, he dropped a top six that included Tennessee, Florida State, Texas A&M, USC, and Ole Miss (in addition to faithful Rutgers). A school’s baseball program factors heavily into his decision.

That’s good news for the Volunteers, since Tony Vitello has given the baseball team a shot in the arm. They are on the up-and-up all things considered. The 2019 season results could help close on Malone.

Right now I would say that FSU and Texas A&M are still ahead of Tennessee at the moment.

Tennessee is likely running third with Ingram-Dawkins at this point. There just hasn’t been much chatter with him lately, and he is widely known as a recruit who loves the spotlight. Probably Georgia here, but wouldn’t count out South Carolina.

A warning

Now to the cold, harsh reality: Tennessee needs to turn it around on the field, fast.

The class—as it stands—is still an upgrade in talent, and would be a good haul in a COVID impacted recruiting world. Even so, Tennessee has lost steam with its top targets and looks like they may end the cycle in the exact opposite fashion as they started it. Even just one commitment from someone like Green, Ingram-Dawkins, or Malone could make a big statement that the staff is still getting through to recruits. It would also give them an impact player who could conceivably contribute very early.

Even so, it’s probably best now that Tennessee plays defense with a lot of their commits. I don’t think the Volunteers will be successful in keeping every single one of them, but I do think they can greatly minimize losses.