In less than 24 hours, the fax machines will light up and college football will celebrate its Christmas morning with National Signing Day. There are plenty of talented players yet to announce their future homes. Among those looking to pull off a signing-day coup is Butch Jones and Tennessee, who are still in the running for several highly-touted recruits.

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Barring a big signing day, it appears Butch Jones’ recruiting class will fail to rank among the nation’s top-10 classes, as it did the past two seasons. But that’s not to say the class isn’t without its share of star power. Tennessee has a commitment from the nation’s No. 1 dual quarterback in Jarrett Guarantano and is in the running for several five-star athletes on both sides of the ball.

It’s likely, however, the Vols will miss out on the likes of DE Derrick Brown, ATH Mecole Hardman Jr. and SDE Jeffery Simmons. But Jones and company are the current frontrunners to add to their stockpile at strong-side defensive end with Arizona Western College-product and four-star talent Jonathan Kongbo.

Tennessee already has four players enrolled in school, three of them on defense –  including two of the three cornerbacks in this recruiting class. But the class is fairly weighted toward the offense with 11 of the 17 commits playing that side of the ball. The Vols’ coaching staff, however, has addressed several issues they’ll face in a year when forced to replace quarterback Josh Dobbs, running back Jalen Hurd and defensive end Derek Barnett.

Jones’ class is sorely lacking in homegrown talent with as many players from Florida, Georgia and Kansas, (three apiece) as there are from the Volunteer State.


  • National Rank: 22
  • SEC Rank: 8
  • No. of commitments: 17
  • No. of commitments by rating: 7 four-stars, 10 three-stars

Top incoming offensive players: Four-star dual QB Jarrett Guarantano, four-star ATH Marquez Callaway, three-star WR Jeff George

Top incoming defensive players: Four-star DT Alexis Johnson, four-star CB Desmond Henderson, four-star OLB Daniel Bituli

Primary remaining targets: Five-star DT Derrick Brown, five-star ATH Mecole Hardman Jr., five-star SDE Jeffery Simmons, four-star SDE Jonathan Kongbo, four-star OT Landon Dickerson

Best-case scenario: Landing five-star athlete Mecole Hardman Jr. would be a huge boon for the Vols, while subsequently dealing a blow to Georgia, the favorite to land the Elbert (Ga.) County star. If Jones fails to persuade Derrick Brown, Jeffrey Simmons or Hardman Jr. to Rocky Top — and right now it appears they will not — the coach’s 2016 class will likely lack a five-star talent.


  • Jarrett Guarantano, DUAL, four-star
  • Marquez Callaway, ATH, four-star
  • Daniel Bituli, OLB, four-star
  • Ryan Johnson, OT, four-star
  • Carlin Fils-aime, RB, four-star
  • Marcus Tatum, OT, three-star
  • Brandon Johnson, WR, three-star
  • Ja’Quain Blakely, OLB, three-star
  • Corey Henderson, WR, three-star
  • Austin Pope, TE, three-star
  • Devante Brooks, TE, three-star
  • Baylen Buchanan, CB, three-star
  • Nathan Niehaus, OT, three-star


  • Marquill Osborne, CB, four-star
  • Alexis Johnson, DT, four-star (JUCO, early enrollee)
  • Jeff George, WR, three-star (JUCO, early enrollee)
  • Desmond Henderson, CB, three-star (JUCO, early enrollee)

Note: Saturday Down South’s references to recruiting rankings are to the industry composite ranking.