Tennessee football enters the Early Signing Period with more intrigue than years past. It’s well known that the new coaching staff got off to a late start with the 2022 class, since they were hired in February. Compounded with rumors of incoming NCAA sanctions, and you had a coaching staff that was recruiting behind the eight ball to start the cycle.
Thankfully, a better-than-expected season has allowed them to remain competitive for some highly ranked players—and those same players enter the Early Signing Period knowing that Tennessee has a ton of momentum.
We’ve got three days until it begins. Just to let you know, recruiting is an absolute whirlwind at this point. There are huge changes day by day, and sometimes even within the same day. This is our first preview of the Early Signing Period/Early Signing Day and what you can expect from Tennessee—but it won’t be the last. We will do another the night before it begins.
What is the Early Signing Period?
For 2022, the Early Signing Period runs from December 15th through December 17th. Student athletes can sign their National Letter of Intent (NLI) on any of the three days. Their recruitments will end the moment the NLI is sent to the schools.
Over the past few years, more and more college football recruits are signing early. To the point where the “regular” signing period in February has now turned into the smaller of two affairs. The vast majority of college football recruits are off the board after the Early Signing Period in December.
Side note, I will use Early Signing Day and Early Signing Period interchangeably. The big day is Wednesday, December 15th, although recruits can still sign in the next two days.
What should we be paying attention to?
There’s a few implications with the Early Signing Period. I’m going to shamelessly steal from a previous article of mine, detailing what you should be aware of before the pens meet paper.
If a commit doesn’t sign early, they are typically viewed as “uncommitted” or something close to it...It means the recruit is actively keeping their options open, just in case a team comes in and sways them. Think about it from the team’s perspective: They are giving a recruit a chance to sign, and the recruit is turning it down.
There are also times when this delay is initiated by the team. Typically, those cases involve a recruit whose grades are still an issue, or a recruit whose spot might be in jeopardy due to recent developments on the trail. The latter is more common than people realize, and it’s a dirty part of the business.
As of now, there are very few Tennessee commits who we don’t expect to sign early. But there are one or two who might not sign with Tennessee. We’ll get to that later in this article.
Where does Tennessee’s 2022 recruiting class stand right now?
The Volunteers currently have 19 commits in their 2022 class. They have four blue chip recruits (players ranked as a 4-star or higher). The class currently has one quarterback, one running back, four wide receivers, one tight end, four offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, two linebackers, and three defensive backs.
According to the 247Sports Class Rankings, Tennessee boasts the 16th overall class. They are 7th in the SEC.
Who could Tennessee potentially add during the Early Signing Period?
For now, let’s assume that the Volunteers will take somewhere close to 25 players. They could do some tricks with scholarship accounting and get up to somewhere like 28, but it’s a good bet that they will be saving some scholarships for transfers.
Here is a list of recruits that Tennessee is known to be recruiting heading into the Early Signing Period. We gave our take on a few of these guys earlier this month. This is not us saying that Tennessee will sign them—this is simply giving you a recap of who they are after. Highlighted names are some new ones we have not mentioned before.
We will give our official predictions for Early Signing Day on December 14th.
5-star DT Walter Nolen (Committed to Texas A&M)
4-star DT Tyre West (Committed to Georgia Bulldogs)
4-star LB DeMario Tolan (Committed to LSU Tigers)
4-star RB Justin Williams
4-star JUCO DT Jeffrey M’ba
4-star Edge James Pearce
4-star WR Chandler Smith
3-star JUCO S Marquise Gilbert
3-star Edge Darren Agu
3-star Edge Gabriel Jacas
Could they lose anyone?
When first writing this article, we wrote a section about 3-star defensive end Venson Sneed. Sneed was one of the first additions to the class, having committed back in April. On Sunday, Sneed decommitted from Tennessee and committed to Indiana.
This could be for a myriad of reasons. Tennessee’s staff may have told him to check out his options, either due to bad film, grades, or potential scheme fit issues. Sneed could also like the appeal of playing early at somewhere like Marshall, whereas at Tennessee he’d have to wait a bit. I have no inside intel here—I’m just giving a few options.
I’d keep an eye on 3-star wide receiver commit Marquarius “Squirrel” White. He had a great senior season down in Alabama, and has now taken recent visits to both Georgia and Auburn. He’s told one Georgia site that Georgia and Tennessee are “50-50” in his recruitment right now. I will say, I’d be shocked if Georgia greenlighted him this early. The Bulldogs are in it for a lot of elite players right now, and it seems weird they’d be pushing this hard for a player like White. He is very good, don’t get me wrong. But I’d just be surprised if they have room at the end of the day.
It’s a huge week here on RTT. Stay tuned for all the news and updates throughout the next few days.