As usual, the good news couldn’t keep rolling the whole time. Tennessee football lost out on two blue chip in-state prospects to the rival Kentucky Wildcats on Friday. 4-star linebacker Keaten Wade and 4-star athlete Destin Wade announced their decisions this afternoon.
Destin and Keaten Wade commit to Kentucky.— Dan Cotton (@dcotton247) April 16, 2021
The Wades are twin brothers out of Summit High School, in middle Tennessee. Both are considered 4-star prospects by the 247Sports Composite rankings, and are each ranked in the top-15 of Tennessee state prospects. Keaten Wade projects as an outside linebacker, while Destin Wade is an athlete who could play quarterback at the next level.
Both were heavily recruited by Tennessee after Josh Heupel was hired. While the Volunteers did as much as they could, it seems like the lack of stability and a late push from Kentucky sealed the deal for the Wildcats.
It’s not totally surprising, if you look at the fundamentals entering the recruitment. Mark Stoops has Kentucky competing at a level they’ve never competed before in program history. He’s been there eight years and will be there plenty more if Kentucky has anything to say about it. Not to mention, he has put kids in the league at a surprising rate in recent years.
Compared to Tennessee’s situation, that’s objectively a better program to be walking into right now.
Still, there’s not many ways to soften the blow of seeing two blue chips leave the state. Tennessee is trying their best to stay afloat in the recruiting world, but a brand new staff coupled with a looming NCAA decision is hampering their efforts. They were able to grab two prospects in back-to-back days with 3-star Elijah Herring (Murfreesboro, TN) and 3-star Venson Sneed (Winter Park, FL) but ideally they need to be gaining more traction with the top of their board.
It’s still early enough that you cannot write off the Wade brothers just yet. Tennessee could overperform, Kentucky could underperform, and all of the sudden Knoxville could be a lot more attractive. They’re still worth recruiting.
Overall the announcement isn’t the end of the world. Tennessee has plenty of time to scout and focus in on some other targets over the next few months. But the Wade brothers would have been a really encouraging sign that the Volunteers still have legitimacy inside their own borders. For now, Tennessee will need to look elsewhere to find it.