Heading into the 2020 recruiting cycle, Tennessee had a clear top need. Exiting the 2020 cycle, Tennessee’s class had a clear strength. Jeremy Pruitt and his staff filled the need at wide receiver and then some, adding four, potentially five players to the position.
Tennessee finished with the 10th ranked class in the country, according to 247 Sports. But according to Pruitt, they may have signed one of the best receiver classes in the nation.
“I believe this is one of the best wide receiver groups in the country when you talk about potential,” Pruitt said on signing day.
Tennessee inked two more four-star athletes during the traditional signing date, each of which will start out at the receiver spot for Jim Chaney and Tee Martin.
“The guy is an unbelievable athlete,” Pruitt said of four-star signee Malachi Wideman. “When you watch him on the football field, his catch radius, his instincts to play the position, his ability to high point the football, his toughness and the fact that he’s a very fluid athlete means that he has a very high ceiling and we’re really excited to have him as a part of our program.”
Wideman is the 116th ranked player in the 2020 class, who flipped his commitment from Florida State on signing day.
“(Dee Beckwith) is a guy that we targeted really early,” Pruitt said. “He’s one of these guys that in high school football had the ball in his hands a lot. He played wildcat quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety and some linebacker. He’s a guy that projects to play a number of positions, but when you watch him play, where he’s the most dynamic is when the ball is in his hands.”
Beckwith is also a four-star prospect, ranking just outside of the top 300 prospects the the country. He’s a little more raw, because he’s yet to focus solely on football.
Both prospects double as basketball players and have been given the greenlight to try to play both in Knoxville. Each will be on football scholarships and could walk on to the basketball team after the football season is over. It will be interesting to see the logistics of that play out next year, especially on what should be a loaded basketball roster.
Their main impact is expected to come on the football field, however. They join four-star prospects Jalin Hyatt and Jimmy Calloway, who signed in December. Hyatt and Calloway bring speed and playmaking ability to the offense, while Wideman and Beckwith should offer more of a physical presence.
Three-star athlete Jimmy Holiday will start out at quarterback, but could end up playing receiver before it’s all said and done.
We also can’t forget about Velus Jones, who will transfer in from USC. The veteran receiver brings experience and return ability to the roster, which needs it after the departure of Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway. Deangelo Gibbs will also get a shot to play at receiver after playing safety at Georgia to begin his career.
This influx of talent will slot in behind veterans Brandon Johnson and Josh Palmer. Sophomores Cedric Tillman and Ramel Keyton will also be firmly in the picture. So while this group lacks experience, they aren’t lacking talent.
It should be fun to see who emerges in fall camp come August.