'Orange Carpet Day' a smashing success for Tennessee; leads to eight commits
Any concerns regarding a slow start to the 2017 recruiting cycle on Rocky Top were smashed Saturday as Tennessee celebrated the latest “Orange Carpet Day” to the tune of eight total commitments – seven toward the 2017 class and one toward the 2018 class.
With over 40 prospects in town for the annual recruiting event, the initial commitments came during a two-hour flurry and had Vol Twitter buzzing for hours following the pledges.
Tennessee’s new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop proved to be quite clever by tweeting this video out during the tail end of the quick succession of commitments the Vols received Saturday:
— Bob Shoop (@UTCoachBobShoop) June 18, 2016
The first commit of the day came from 6-foot-6, 247-pound South Carolina defensive lineman Tre Lawson. Rated as a three-star prospect and the No. 4 overall prospect from North Carolina by 247Sports, Lawson chose Tennessee over Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Florida State and USC.
Lawson was happy to take the credit for kicking off the big recruiting weekend for the Vols.
“I mean, yeah, I kind of feel like I started it, but (the other commits) still fell in love with Tennessee the way I did, so they were gonna commit, anyways,” Lawson said according to Wes Rucker of 247Sports. “I really enjoyed today. I really did.”
Next up was Savannah, Tenn., native LaTrell Bumphus, the second prospect to commit on Saturday:
Offically committed to The University of Tennessee! ?? pic.twitter.com/qr7I2d5kMm
— LaTrell Bumphus (@LBumphus) June 18, 2016
Listed as a 6-foot-4, 232-pound defensive lineman, Bumphus has the potential to play both sides of the ball and could possibly be moved to tight end in Knoxville. He is rated as a three-star prospect, the No. 14 player from the Volunteer State and the No. 25 weak-side defensive end in the nation by 247Sports Composite Ratings.
Bumphus committed to Tennessee over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and USC, among others.
Next up was another in-state recruit, as intriguing receiver prospect Princeton Fant, teammate of recent Vol commit Maleik Gray, pledged to the Vols:
The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Fant has limited experience on the football field following an ACL injury but has intrigued a number of top schools with his elite athleticism and imposing stature. Currently rated as a three-star prospect, the No. 17 recruit from Tennessee and the No. 79 overall receiver in the nation by 247Sports Composite Ratings, don’t be surprised to see Fant launch up the recruiting rankings this fall.
According to Fant, he and Gray were suppose to commit to the Vols together, however Gray jumped the gun during his visit to the Knoxville campus the previous weekend.
“Me and Maleik, we both planned on committing at the same time, but he went ahead and did it last weekend,” Fant told Ryan Callahan of 247Sports. “I was already going to commit. I already had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to commit to UT, really, just to be closer to home. I think Butch Jones is doing a great job with the program and everything, and I would like to be a part of that program.”
Wanting to put an early end to his recruitment, one of the nation’s top rated athletes for 2018 in Manchester, Tenn., native Alontae Taylor also committed to Tennessee while on campus:
I am Officially Committed to The University Of Tennessee pic.twitter.com/EVxQ6M06Om
— Alontae (@TaeTaylor6) June 18, 2016
Already rated as a four-star prospect and Tennessee’s No. 6 prospect for 2018 by 247Sports, once a Vanderbilt commit, Taylor jumped at the chance of joining the Vols recruiting class over a year in advance. Despite only completing two years of high school football to date, Taylor already has 10 scholarship offers, including Ole Miss, Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Louisville offers.
Staying in state yet again, the Vols next landed a commit from Nashville defensive back Theo Jackson:
— ⭐️⭐️Theo Jackson⭐️⭐️ (@theo_jackson05) June 18, 2016
The 6-foot-2, 176-pound Jackson is rated as a three-star safety, the No. 12 player in the state and the No. 28 safety in the nation by 247Sports Composite Ratings. Jackson committed to the Vols over LSU, Vanderbilt, Louisville among others.
According to 247Sports recruiting analyst Barton Simmons, the Vols landed one of the South’s elite defenders in Jackson.
(Jackon’s) also one of the most underrecruited guys in the southeast. He’s the type of player that is nowhere close to how good he can ultimately become…He’s 6-2, long and wiry strong. He’s not a finished product. He’s going to get thicker, stronger, more explosive but he already sticks out among elite company.
Looking ahead to the 2017 season, one of the biggest holes Tennessee will likely face comes at running back, which makes the commit of West Monroe, La., running back Trey Coleman so important:
The 5-foot-11, 203-pound Coleman is rated as a three-star prospect, the No. 34 running back in the nation and the No. 20 overall recruit from Louisiana according to 247Sports. The running back currently holds offers from Arkansas, Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech and Colorado State.
The Vols’ next commit was a massive one, literally, as 6-foot-6, 330-pound offensive lineman Jordan Tucker pledged to Tennessee:
— jordan tucker (@jordant9779) June 18, 2016
A native of Roswell, Ga., Tucker is also rated as a three-star recruit, the No. 75 offensive tackle in the nation and the No. 66 prospect from the state of Georgia according to 247Sports Composite Ratings. The big lineman currently holds offers from Missouri, South Carolina, Louisville, North Carolina and Maryland, among others.
After pledging his commitment, Tucker revealed he had planned to commit heading into the visit.
“It’s been on my mind for awhile now,” Tucker said in a video posted by Inside Tennessee. “It was only a matter of time really.
Tucker also went into why he chose Tennessee over his many other offers.
“The family atmosphere and how they are about the team, about the fans and how it’s really just about everyone coming together, doing what they can to achieve a goal,” Tucker said. “Now is the right time, I’ve been waiting for awhile.”
After seeing so many players commit to the Vols’ latest class, Tucker knew the time was right for him to jump on board with his future teammates.
“We were at the second activity and five recruits had just committed. Right after that I just told my mom it was time and that’s when I committed,” Tucker said. “I think it gave it a little extra boost, just telling myself it’s time.”
The commitments didn’t stop there, as Jaquan Henderson became the eighth recruit to commit to the Vols on Saturday:
— Jaquan Henderson#1 (@JaquanHenderso2) June 19, 2016
The Covington, Ga., native is also rated as a three-star recruit, the No. 31 safety in the nation and the No. 44 prospect from Georgia, according to 247Sports Composite Ratings. Henderson chose the Vols over offers from Arkansas, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina and UCLA, among many others.
“The reason why I choose Tennessee is because I love Tennessee,” Henderson said in a video posted by Scout. “My parents have a great relationship with the coaches. Coach Martinez says I have the possibility of doing big things my freshman year, so that’s why I chose the University of Tennessee.”
Coming into the day, Tennessee had a fringe Top 20 recruiting class but is now listed as having the No. 7 overall recruiting class in the nation according to 247Sports’ 2017 Recruiting Composite Team Rankings. The Vols’ 2017 class now has ballooned up to 17 total prospects, and with eyes on several of the nation’s elite uncommitted prospects, Tennessee has room to move up the list.
Following the frenzy of commits, Twitter reacted accordingly to the wild Saturday for Tennessee.
From Tennessee recruits:
UT got 8 commits ?❕?
— Emory Jones (@eXjones6) June 19, 2016
— Maleik Gray™ (@GrayMaleik) June 18, 2016
? carpet day done racked up today
— Tee Higgins (@teehiggins5) June 18, 2016
— Cade Mays (@_mayc2) June 18, 2016
To current Tennessee players:
Excited about all the guys that committed today ! Welcome to the family ! #WECOMING
— Jonathan Kongbo (@Kongbo_1) June 18, 2016
Glad these young boys are realizing how special this school is ! ?? #OrangeCarpetDay
— Todd Kelly Jr. (TK) (@ToddKellyJr6) June 18, 2016
Everybody starting to see Tennessee football is back.
— Justin Martin (@Elite_made) June 18, 2016
To head coach Butch Jones:
— Butch Jones (@UTCoachJones) June 18, 2016
While Tennessee’s recruiting event may be called “Orange Carpet Day” the name going forward may have to be changed to “Orange Commit Day” from here on out.
Tennessee online sports betting officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.