We get it. With the real, actual football season approaching, you’re probably more focused on the 2020 season than the 2022 high school recruiting class. You’re correct and should absolutely pay more attention to the former right now. But before you do that...just keep something in mind.
As we cover recruiting at Rocky Top Talk, we get a broad overview of the landscape nationally. We know who is hot on the trail, who is struggling, why teams fall into either category, and more. Tennessee stole the show with their spring/summer recruiting rampage to start the 2021 cycle, and there’s been a lot of focus on why exactly the Volunteers are such a hot commodity right now.
That got us looking into the future of the state of Tennessee and whether or not Tennessee will have to keep up fairly extraordinary recruiting efforts out-of-state. While we are positive they will continue to dip in to surrounding states, we noticed something very interesting about the 2022 Tennessee in-state class. Below is a list of recruits (spellings and rankings based on 247Sports) currently garnering attention in the Volunteer State for the 2022 class.
Bolded names are players who have received multiple major offers from Division-I schools.
5-star DT Walter Nolen
4-star QB Ty Simpson
4-star WR Taylor Groves
4-star RB Jordan James
4-star LB Keaten Wade
4-star WR Isaiah Horton
4-star CB Kody Jones
4-star OT Fisher Anderson
4-star WR Cameron Miller
4-star ATH Barion Brown
3-star ATH Dallan Hayden
3-star QB Destin Wade
3-star QB Tevin Carter
N/R OT Aliou Bah
N/R WR Kaydin Pope
N/R LB Elijah Herring
N/R Tommy Winton
N/R TE Karson Gay
N/R OT Jacob Hood
N/R ATH Mikeece Jones
N/R RB Nakelin McAfee
N/R LB Langston Patterson
N/R RB Kendall Jackson
N/R CB Myles Pollard
N/R DT James Howard
N/R DE Eric Gaston
N/R CB Jaylen Greenwood
N/R ATH Quincy Briggs
N/R DE Elijah Alexander
N/R OT Camron Gann
For now, we will simply have to go off word of mouth and look at scholarship offers/early interest. High school football suffers from the same issues that college football is suffering from as it pertains to preparation and sloppiness on the field. Meaning some kids are simply balling out against teams that had zero shot of winning.
There’s still enough for me to say something I wouldn’t say lightly...
This 2022 in-state class might be one of the most talented of the past decade.
One of my first articles for Rocky Top Talk looked at the in-state talent pool over the years. The most obvious conclusion was that the state of Tennessee would have more high level recruits in the coming years, based on recent trends. A combination of population growth and increased focus on football from certain regions meant the number of top tier guys was going to increase.
Last year, Tennessee had 11 blue chips. This year, it has 10 blue chips.
For 2022, I think the number of blue chips will be closer to 15. But the real strength is going to be the depth.
One of the best indicators for what staffs think of state’s talent is the early offers. If a lot of kids in the state have high level offers before their Junior season ever begins, it tends to indicate that coaching staffs are aware of the wave of talent coming in.
So far, 13 players above have received multiple offers from major high profile schools. Even beyond that, there’s a few that have gotten a couple of offers from high profile programs, but maybe not enough to truly pinpoint them as a future blue chip for the class.
As for how these players are doing so far in their respective seasons, I don’t have all the info on hand. That’d take a level of research that is simply not tenable for a list of 30 players, a majority of whom will not commit to Tennessee. I will say that I’ve heard good things about Taylor Groves, Kaydin Pope, Dallan Hayden, and Ty Simpson in particular. A couple of those guys faced off against overmatched teams but they’ve all made enough noise to get noticed.
We mentioned above that this is a very preliminary look. While I typically don’t write about a class this far out, it’s noticeable that the 2022 in-state group is garnering enough momentum to really be a milestone class. It’s somewhat comparable to what North Carolina is experiencing in the 2021 class. The stars aligned, and the Tar Heels are taking advantage of their most talented in-state crop of the past 20 years.
We’ll be checking back with more updates as the class takes shape. If early returns are any indication however, Tennessee could be the beneficiary of a very high tide rolling in.