Much has been made of Tennessee’s freshman receiver class, and rightfully so. The group features four four-star prospects, each with differing skill sets and each with a chance to play early on.
Jalin Hyatt stole headlines early on, with Jeremy Pruitt calling the speedster ‘polished’ just days into camp. But one of the more raw prospects in Tennessee’s class has caught wide receivers coach Tee Martin’s eye. Malachi Wideman, who will also try to play basketball while at Tennessee, is full of potential according to Martin.
“He has probably the most upside of everyone, because he’s coming in probably the most raw of them all,” Martin said earlier this week. “Malachi is kind of this kid, for three years, the young man played in kind of a Wing-T offense and was a basketball player during the offseason. Rarely went through spring practice, wasn’t a big time 7-on-7 circuit type of guy and would just show up and play football and just kind of go off natural skills.”
Wideman stands in at 6-4, 200 pounds. The top 100 prospect is looking to use his basketball background to further his football career, and he’s got a chance to play early on in Knoxville. It’s a crowded room, but Wideman’s size does immediate set him apart.
“He is a bright young man that just needs a lot of reps,” Martin continued. “He’s one of those young players that the more reps he gets, the more you start seeing him shine more and more every day. He has a want-to. He’s that guy that’s young but doesn’t mind making mistakes, and he doesn’t lose confidence when he does make mistakes and when you get on him. He wants to be out there. He wants to get better.”
Wideman was also a four-star basketball prospect, ranking inside the top 150 players in the 2020 class. We’ll see if he can make both sports work, but that raw athletic ability is exciting to have at the receiver position.
Tennessee will likely lean on Josh Palmer, Brandon Johnson, Ramel Keyton and Cedric Tillman early on. With eligibility frozen for 2020, it's going to be interesting to see how the Volunteers utilize this outstanding freshman class right off the bat.
Wideman very well might have the most work to do, but he could also end up being the best one of the bunch.