Assessing Tennessee’s 2016 class the week before signing day
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones continues his recruiting prowess since taking over the Volunteers for the 2013 season, enticing what promises to be another loaded class to Rocky Top.
The Vols currently have 17 players committed to the program ahead of Feb. 3’s signing day, including four enrollees — two of whom are top-flight cornerbacks.
The coach also has his eye on eventually replacing Josh Dobbs with two quarterbacks arriving in Knoxville this year and the potential for a third, should the coach somehow swipe Mecole Hardman Jr., the No. 1-rated athlete, away from Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State. Also a standout defensive back, Hardman Jr. won’t necessarily line up under center in college, and could even find a home on defense or at any of the skills positions.
Tennessee is prepared if Hardman Jr. heads elsewhere, perhaps to Georgia or Alabama, the top teams on his list. Four-star prospect Marquill Osborne, the aforementioned top-flight cornerback, and Alexis Johnson have both committed to building up the UT defense.
Jones only has three homegrown players in his class. Two of them, however, are four-star talents in outside linebacker Daniel Bituli, the No. 3 player in the state, and Ryan Johnson, the No. 5 overall in the state of Tennessee and the No. 25 offensive tackle in the nation.
The Vols already have an imposing defensive line, but Jones is still looking to add to the stockpile as five-star prospects DT Derrick Brown and SDE Jeffery Simmons remain among the team’s top targets along with Hardman Jr.
Here’s a breakdown of Tennessee’s 2016 recruiting class ahead of signing day.
ASSESSING TENNESSEE’S 2016 CLASS
Current commits or enrollees: 17 (avg. star 3.4)
Remaining primary targets: DT Derrick Brown, QB Mecole Hardman Jr., SDE Jeffrey Simmons, OT Landon Dickerson, S Nigel Warrior, SDE Jonathan Kongbo
National/SEC rank: 21/8