Josh Heupel has already talked about locking up the in-state talent for Tennessee, now it’s time to put that plan into action. He and his staff, which is still under construction to this point, are working on building early relationships with key prospects close to home.
“I do believe that I’d like to close the borders and not let any of them out,” Heupel said in his introductory press conference. “Is it going to be a focus? It absolutely will be a focus for us. That’s the challenge for myself and for our coaching staff, to make contact with those guys and make sure they understand the importance they have inside of our football program and the opportunity that they have inside of our football program.”
Though it’s still early in that process, Tennessee has made the cut for a couple of in-state prospects this week. First up is three-star athlete Destin Wade out of Spring Hill.
Top 9⚠️... (recruitment still open) Thank you God for your blessings.☝ pic.twitter.com/W0fz8ZWHGz— Destin Wade (@Destinwade1) February 9, 2021
Wade is the 368th ranked player in the country — the 11th ranked dual-threat quarterback in the class, per 247Sports. Ole Miss, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Penn State, Arizona State, West Virginia and Virginia also made the cut for Wade.
His twin brother Keaton, a four-star linebacker, has also released a list, but Tennessee did not make that cut. Keaton is the fourth ranked player in the state as things currently stand, and is still a prospect to monitor.
Tennessee also cracked the top six for massive offensive tackle prospect Jacob Hood, who comes from the Nashville area.
Top6‼️@BuckFitz @LeverageLineman @HHSBurroSports @HillsboroFball @SaintsNashville @NCEC_Recruiting @ChadSimmons_ @CSmithScout pic.twitter.com/L3J7XRThIh— Jacob Hood (65) ✞ ✪ (@jacobhood2022) February 8, 2021
LSU, Georgia, Baylor, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State were the other five school that made the cut. Hood stands in at 6-8, 342 pounds. He’s the 16th ranked prospect in the state of Tennessee, and comes in at 370th in the national ranking, per 247Sports. The Hillsboro High School product plays at a sudden position of need for Tennessee, as Josh Heupel and Glen Elarbee try to restock up front.
Hood now holds more than 15 offers. He’s been a target of Tennessee for a couple of years, but it’s now up to Heupel to close the deal.
Tennessee landed just three of the top 15 in-state players in the 2021 class. That’s a mark that isn’t good enough, and Heupel is clearly aware of that. Let’s see how many his staff can pull in year one.