How Tennessee's early recruiting class is taking shape under Jeremy Pruitt
KNOXVILLE — Jeremy Pruitt took over at Tennessee when the Vols were the 27th-ranked 2018 recruiting class, with 15 verbal commitments according to 247Sports.
Pruitt hit the ground running after accepting the job and before he goes back to Alabama to be the defensive coordinator in preparation for the Crimson Tide’s College Football Playoff run starting Monday.
With any coaching staff transition, decommitments occur. Sometimes the incoming coach feels certain recruits are not a good fit for their personnel ideas; sometimes players want to reopen their recruitment to find a coach or school which fits better for them.
Adrian Martinez, a 4-star quarterback who had been committed to Tennessee since May 12, is an example. He flipped and committed to Scott Frost and Nebraska on Dec. 13. Martinez originally told me as the Vols’ regular season was concluding that he was set to sign with UT on Dec. 20 and enroll early in January.
Things change in a short amount of time and that occurred with another quarterback that was set to sign with the Vols in the 2018 class. Michael Penix decommitted days after Pruitt was hired citing that the new Tennessee staff wanted to go in a different direction.
— Mike Penix Jr. (@themikepenix) December 13, 2017
Also, 4-star safety Trey Dean (Hampton, Ga.) decommitted one day after Pruitt’s introductory press conference.
And 3-star cornerback Brandon Cross (Orlando, Fla.) joined the list by decommitting on Dec. 11, just three days after his official visit, according to 247Sports. It appears Pruitt did not see him in the program’s plans.
Another 3-star cornerback from Orlando, Tanner Ingle, followed suit with Cross, departing from the Vols’ class; he has since committed to North Carolina State. A day later 3-star defensive lineman Jamarcus Chatman (Rome, Ga.) decommitted as well.
In moving on from certain players, Pruitt has signified that he wants to quickly assemble a class that fits what he wants to do defensively and not what the previous staff envisioned. Pruitt wants long defensive backs.
There are still numerous players who remained committed and seem to be a good fit for the new staff.
Three in-state defensive lineman are set to join Tennessee regardless of the coaching change: Greg Emerson (Jackson), Brant Lawless (Nashville) and D’Andre Litaker (Murfreesboro). And in-state tight end Jacob Warren (Farragut High in Knoxville) told me that he would enroll early in January.
I talked to Litaker last month and said that he and “Emerson and Lawless are really excited and a lot of things are going for them and (we are) looking forward to the journey at Tennessee.” Litaker added, “everything will work out and soon Tennessee will be back on top.”
Commits under Pruitt
Pruitt’s first playing personnel move after taking the reins of UT football was having in-state wide receiver Alontae Taylor recommit to the Vols’ program.
On campus visits
Tennessee held an important on-campus visit weekend, highlighted by a home basketball game with North Carolina, before the early signing period kicks off Wednesday.
Here are a few highlights from the recruiting weekend.
Greg Bell, the No. 4 junior college running back in the nation:
No. 1 JUCO ranked tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson
The nation’s No. 2 ranked JUCO offensive guard Johncarlo Valentin and the nation’s No. 5 ranked JUCO offensive tackle Jahmir Johnson also attended.
Other notable weekend visitors include Cal quarterback commit JT Shrout.
Rapper Warren G’s son, cornerback Olaijah Griffin, a UCLA commit.
— Warren G (@regulator) December 17, 2017
4-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland.
4-star running back Jeremy Banks.
Louisiana tight end Glenn Beal.