Tennessee inked a top ten class during the 2020 cycle, capitalizing on a strong finish to the 2019 season. Jeremy Pruitt continues to flip this roster, trying to crawl back to the top of the SEC East. While this class didn’t have the star power of 2019’s, it might just end up being a little bit deeper.
Dominic Bailey, Harrison Bailey, Jimmy Holiday and Cooper Mays have already enrolled and will go through spring practice next month. Those four will get a head start, but Tennessee has a ton of options that could step in and contribute early.
The clearest path figures to be on the defensive side of the ball with Darrell Taylor and Daniel Bituli moving on. Those two starting positions are up for grabs, and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley isn’t short on options. Four-star linebackers Bryson Eason and Martavius French will have an opportunity to earn playing time right away at inside linebacker, playing alongside of Henry To’o To’o.
On the outside, Tyler Baron and Morven Joseph have an opportunity to find the field early on. Kivon Bennett, Deandre Johnson, Roman Harrison and Quavaris Crouch may slot in ahead of those two to start, but Baron and Joseph could certainly shake things up in camp.
Keshawn Lawrence should have every opportunity to crack the rotation in the secondary, while Omari Thomas could get some time on what is suddenly a deep defensive line.
Offensively, opportunity awaits at the receiver position — and Tennessee pulled in a really talented receiver group. Four four-star prospects will get their chance to replace Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, likely slotting in behind Josh Palmer and Ramel Keyton. Will Malachi Wideman, Dee Beckwith, Jimmy Calloway or Jalin Hyatt step up in fall camp?
So who makes the biggest impact right off the bat? My vote goes to Morven Joseph, who picked the Volunteers during the early signing period. Joseph is an obvious answer to replace some of Darrell Taylor’s production, but could also find some playing time on the inside.
According to Derrick Ansley, Joseph looks pretty familiar to him.
“So adding Morven, who’s a twitch guy, who’s fast, first-step explosion — he reminds us of a guy that plays here in town, Rashaan Evans, who’s got that kind of explosion,” Ansley said earlier this offseason.
Evans is a guy that played both inside and outside at Alabama while Pruitt and Ansley were in Tuscaloosa, so keep that role in the back of your head for the fall.
Which 2020 prospect makes the biggest day one impact?
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