Burning questions: Tennessee recruiting
While Tennessee is unlikely to finish with a top 10 class this recruiting cycle, the Volunteers have still landed (and will land) their share of talent as the rise continues in Knoxville.
So with that, here are some key questions, and answers, about Tennessee’s class of 2016.
This class isn’t rated as highly as some previous Tennessee classes. Any cause for concern?
No, there’s no cause for concern. This isn’t a vast, roster-transforming type of class that the Vols have had in previous cycles under Butch Jones, but you don’t sign a class like that every cycle in terms of numbers, so you look for quality. I think Tennessee has a high-quality class and one that quite frankly has some real steals in it, like JUCO wide receiver Jeff George, a 6-foot-6 freak athlete that can help immediately.
Who are some of the top targets the Vols are trying to get down the stretch?
Jones and his staff have done a tremendous job of landing Tennessee legacy recruits (Bates, McKenzie, Kelly Jr., the Berry twins) and four-star safety Nigel Warrior (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge), the son of former Vols great Dale Carter, could be the next one. The forces of nature have been kind to the Volunteers in the sense that there have been plenty of talented players in recent cycles with family connections to the Tennessee program, in particular the glory days under Phillip Fulmer.
Jones has batted 1.000 in landing these “VFL” players. (VFL = Vol For Life, for those that aren’t familiar). Also, offensive tackle Landon Dickerson out of North Carolina is big, athletic, mean and nasty. Tennessee has been in the thick of this for a long time, but Florida State is a big factor as well.
It will go right down to the wire, but if the Vols are able to land Dickerson, that’s a potential All-American at offensive tackle down the road. Regardless of ranking/hype, offensive linemen are always a crapshoot, but Dickerson is that good and I would even go so far as to call him special at this stage.
Give us one player in the Tennessee class that isn’t ranked all that high but who could be great.
I would have to go with two prospects here. First and foremost, offensive tackle Marcus Tatum (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) has the frame (6-foot-6.5, 255 pounds) and the athleticism to be a big-time offensive tackle in this league. He obviously just needs to add the strength and bulk needed without losing the athleticism and also develop at a high level. You look at how early some of the Vols offensive linemen have been able to play and hold their own in recent years and I have no doubts about the development end of things. It really is up to Tatum and how hard he works as to how good he can be.
Three-star tight end Devante Brooks (Washington, D.C.) is a 6-foot-5, 248-pound jumbo athlete with good size and athleticism that in a few years can be a superstar with hard work and development. Brooks was a sneaky-good eval by the Volunteers in this cycle.
What do you think of Tennessee’s quarterback in the class?
Four-star Jarrett Guarantano (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic) made the right call with Tennessee because the Vols have guys like Josh Dobbs, Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones on the roster who are better-suited to play right now than Guarantano, who has excellent upside but needs time to develop at the college level.
You look at the quarterback situation in Knoxville right now and its one of the best situations any school in the country has. Guarantano has to embrace the development process and wait his turn, but he can definitely be good in time given the tools that the 6-foot-4 prospect has.