Tennessee football has once again stunned the recruiting world and grabbed a highly ranked prospect on National Signing Day. 4-star wide receiver Malachi Wideman flipped from the Florida State Seminoles and announced he will sign with the Volunteers.
In a story that we’ve heard before, this commitment was made possible by Tennessee’s dedication to staying on their top targets. The Volunteers continued to follow up with Wideman throughout the process, even after it seemed his FSU commitment was fairly solid. Certain teams were scared off because of academics—but towards the end of 2019, there was a lot of positive news that suggests Wideman will be eligible. Those developments, combined with his decision to not sign early, meant a lot of programs tried to get in the door. Tennessee was one of those programs. Except they were one of three who actually got him to take a visit (the other two being Ole Miss and Oregon).
His visit proved to be the turning point. Granted, where he would go was still up in the air until today, but national and local writers agreed that Tennessee put themselves squarely in the race. It paid off on Wednesday when Wideman completed the flip and signed with the Volunteers.
So what is Tennessee gaining with Wideman’s commitment?
To put it simply: a freak. An athletic freak who could legitimately become an All-American wide receiver turned top-10 NFL draft pick. Wideman’s biggest strengths are his explosion and general playmaking ability. If you know what the term “Moss’d” means, you have a good idea of what made so many teams look at Wideman as their No. 1 receiver. He can leap and jump with the best of them, and he has the ball skills to pair with it. Ideally he would turn into the main downfield threat for Tennessee’s offense.
There’s also an interesting tidbit about Wideman’s basketball prospects. He’s a top-200 small forward who has a legitimate shot at contributing on the hardwood. It’s unknown whether or not he will pursue both sports at Tennessee. Just something to keep an eye on.
Even beyond his recruiting ranking, Wideman brings superstar ability to the team. He’s raw when it comes to route running and some of the more technical aspects of being a receiver—yet he still managed to dominate the high school ranks. There was a reason that FSU was so committed to Wideman despite the grade risks. He’s the type of athlete who can change an offense.
Tennessee now has four wide receivers in the 2020 class, all of them blue chips. Wideman is the highest ranked of the group.
Oh — one more layer to this, too. Wideman might just end up being a two-sport athlete at Tennessee. He’s also a four-star basketball player, ranked 126th in the 2020 class by 247Sports. So that’s something to file away for later.
There are basketball implications to four-star wide receiver Malachi Wideman's impending college football announcement. Committed to Florida State for football. Rumblings of a flip to Tennessee or Ole Miss. Expected to play hoops too.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) February 5, 2020