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Recruiting Heat Check: Where Tennessee Stands in July

The staff gets a bit pickier as time goes on.

NCAA Football: Gator Bowl-Indiana vs Tennessee Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our continuing coverage of Tennessee football recruiting, we thought it would be helpful to provide monthly check-ins on the class. Very few things about life are normal in these times, but we can help provide a little bit of regularity. Unfortunately, it’s only in football recruiting, but you’ll just have to take what we can give you.

At a glance, Tennessee’s recruiting class is ranked 4th nationally and 1st in the SEC, according to 247Sports. They have 23 commitments as of this writing.

Things have certainly slowed down ever since the rash of commitments earlier this summer. But we might see activity back up over the next 30 days.

What happened in June?

Not too much, honestly. There was surprisingly little recruiting action for Tennessee throughout June. The months run together during this tumultuous time of course, so that’s why it might seem like the burst of commitments for Tennessee was more recent than it actually was.

The Volunteers grabbed one of their top tight end options with 4-star Hudson Wolfe on June 15th. That was the only addition.

They lost 3-star cornerback Nate Evans to NC State on June 4th, but that flip was not surprising in the least, and was more of a confirmation than a new development.

The only real surprise (if you could call it that) was Kamar Wilcoxson flipping to the Florida Gators. We’re talking about a recruit that already decommitted twice from the same team before his senior year ever started, so “surprise” should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, Tennessee would have liked to have him in the class, and his departure does open up a spot at cornerback. They may have found a better replacement, however. More on that below.

Why did things slow down?

The class got full, and we’re in the summer doldrums.

Tennessee currently has 23 commits in the boat. Of those 23, their top options at positions like running back, quarterback, tight end, safety, and linebacker are all met. They’re still chasing big fish at those positions—but if the class was finalized today, they would be satisfied with their haul in each of those areas.

Tennessee’s staff can now afford to be a bit pickier with who their next commitments will be. There’s still some weeding out to do and some battles that are far from over. They just have a bit more stringent a process now.

While I do not have numbers on hand to back it up, it would seem that the beginning of July has seen a slight downtick in commitments compared to June. COVID-19 has disrupted everyone’s schedules in odd ways. With many states shutting down facilities and putting restrictions in place, the summer commitments might be slowing down.

Who are the primary targets still on the board?

This is not a comprehensive list of players Tennessee would take right now. But these are the big names they’re still after, who they are rumored to have near the top of the board.

5-star T Amarius Mims

5-star LB Smael Mondon

4-star DT Payton Page

4-star CB Terrion Arnold

4-star DT Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins

3-star CB Damarius McGhee

3-star T William Parker

The unprecedented change in the evaluation period and potential loss of senior seasons means that recruits will pop up out of nowhere. It is very likely that even big schools take commitments from players that have virtually zero recruiting exposure. Keep that in mind.

Who will be the next commitment?

Recruiting is a fickle game. If one were a betting man, they might point to Damarius McGhee and Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins as the top two candidates to commit to Tennessee. Both have indicated they’re close to a decision and have just a handful of teams they’re still looking at. McGhee would be a fantastic grab at cornerback, where Tennessee lost commit Kamar Wilcoxson recently. Ingram-Dawkins would likely round out the defensive line board, unless they were somehow able to convince Payton Page as well.