KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee concentrated on building depth in this class but also gained star power with the addition of a player rated as the nation’s No. 1 prospect by one recruiting service.
The Volunteers’ recruiting class features offensive lineman and early enrollee Trey Smith, ESPN’s No. 1 prospect in this class. He’s the headliner in a class that includes as many players from Florida high schools (seven) as Tennessee schools.
“We wanted individuals that (did) not necessarily love recruiting but love football,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.
That approach is apparent from the makeup of Tennessee’s class.
“It’s a class that has less national sex appeal but has a lot of grinders who are really athletic and maybe just not as college ready as some of the guys ranked ahead of them, but who have the same type of ceiling and upside,” said Barton Simmons, the director of scouting for 247Sports.
Other things to know:
Top-25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Smith, who comes from University School of Jackson, Tennessee, is the nation’s No. 14 overall prospect according to a composite ranking of recruiting websites compiled by 247Sports.
Best of the rest: Running back Ty Chandler and safety Maleik Gray are both rated as top-100 prospects by the 247Sports Composite.
Late addition: All of Tennessee’s signees had already made their college decisions well before Wednesday. “Probably the least drama we’ve had on Signing Day,” Jones said. Running back Tim Jordan and wide receiver Josh Palmer selected Tennessee within the last 10 days.
Ones that got away: The Knoxville area had two heralded receiving prospects this year in Tee Higgins of Oak Ridge and Amari Rodgers of Knoxville Catholic. Both signed with Clemson. Rodgers is the son of Southern California offensive coordinator Tee Martin, the quarterback of Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team. The Vols signed just one of the 247Sports Composite’s top four prospects in Tennessee, with Higgins going to Clemson while safety JaCoby Stephens and linebacker Jacob Phillips opted for LSU.
How they’ll fit in: This class includes three running backs in Chandler, Trey Coleman and Jordan. One of them could play immediately as Tennessee attempts to find someone to complement John Kelly and replace Alvin Kamara, who entered the NFL draft. Chandler has the highest rating of the running backs. Tennessee also added three wideouts (Jacquez Jones, Jordan Murphy and Palmer) to boost a receiving corps that lost Josh Malone to the draft.
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