Many weren’t sure what to expect from college football’s first early signing day, and no fanbase was more unsure of the potential than Tennessee’s was. However, in just over two weeks on the job, Jeremy Pruitt and his staff (or most of it) recovered from losing both quarterback commitments and dropping out of the top 40 in the 247Sports.com team recruiting rankings.
Now, the Vols sit at No. 26 with 16 commitments, 13 of which signed and are officially Knoxville-bound for 2018.
While Georgia and Alabama shined with 5-star hauls and Florida landed one of the country’s most coveted prospects, Pruitt set a foundation for what he and athletic director Phillip Fulmer believe will head the Vols in the right direction: elite talent on the offensive and defensive line.
Phillip Fulmer to @Volquest_Rivals on Tennessee’s recruiting needs moving forward: “It’s still about the line of scrimmage. We need to find a John Henderson or two and a couple of big ol’ tackles if we can.”
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) December 22, 2017
Of the 13 signees from the early signing period, seven of them were linemen, although surprise signee Jordan Allen was listed as a linebacker by Tennessee football’s Twitter account.
Among the other six were the nation’s No. 1 junior college tight end, three in-state playmakers on offense, one of the best specialists in the country and a quarterback that was committed to a school on the opposite end of the country just over a week ago.
What’s left? With 13 signees, the Vols have plenty of room for growth, and there’s plenty of talent available. Pruitt and staff will likely look long and far for the elite talent Pruitt has become accustomed to recruiting.
Tennessee does still have three committed recruits who didn’t sign during the early period: in-state, 4-star defensive tackle D’Andre Litaker, 4-star Georgia running back Anthony Grant and 3-star Alabama linebacker Matthew Flint.
Litaker might be the only one of those three that the Tennessee staff sell out for, especially after Grant just visited Virginia Tech and Flint had a healthy relationship with Butch Jones. Either way, the Vols still have a lot of work to do on the recruiting trail before February.
Some positives: Tennessee has 16 commitments right now (13 signees included) in the class of 2018 and still has the No. 26 ranked class, according to 247Sports’ class rankings.
Only three classes have 16 or less commitments and rank higher:
- No. 16 Florida (15 commits, 13 signees),
- No. 13 USC (13 commits, 9 signees)
- No. 8 Clemson (15 commits, all signees)
Some negatives: the only SEC teams with less commitments than the Vols are Florida (15), Texas A&M (14) and Arkansas (11). And while the Vols sit at No. 26 in national rankings, they sit at No. 8 in the SEC, behind three division foes. Georgia’s class tops the nation right now, as if the Bulldogs’ brutal win in Neyland Stadium this fall wasn’t harmful enough.
Meet the Signees: Highlights and Analysis
- California kid JT Shrout was a Cal commit last week. Now he’s signed as Tennessee’s only quarterback.
- Cordova offensive lineman Jerome Carvin will continue opening holes for teammate Jeremy Banks, but now while both wear orange and while
- Dominick Wood-Anderson told Vol fans he’d sign with Tennessee after 20,000 followers, it happened, and now he’s a Vol
- Legacy tight end Jacob Warren from Knoxville is ready to make his own history
- Alontae Taylor is one of the best athletes in the country, let alone Tennessee. He’s back on board with the Vols.
- Another local guy in Ollie Lane is big and ready to add to the Vols’ much-needed offensive line depth.
- The first signee of the early period will make quick acquaintance with Lane: Tanner Antonutti will join him in offensive line drills.
- Tennessee’s highest-rated early signee is Greg Emerson — one of the best defensive linemen in the country.
- Jeremy Pruitt loves him some defensive line guys: meet Brant Lawless.
- Defensive tackle Kingston Harris is one of the most disciplined and college-ready prospects Tennessee is bringing in.
- He’s a hybrid, athletic freak. Jordan Allen will be well-received in Knoxville.
- You know you’ve always wanted to watch punter film, plus it’s from one of the best kickers in the country: Paxton Brooks.