KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — National Signing Day is still five days away, but after receiver MarQuez North committed to Tennessee Wednesday night, UT fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
The worst-case scenario — striking out on every major target — is off the table.
The best-case scenario — landing North, Vonn Bell AND Carl Lawson — is still a possibility.
And now Butch Jones and his staff have some recruiting momentum as they put the finishing touches on their first class at Tennessee.
(Photo of Vonn Bell above courtesy KNS partner 247 Sports)
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Sure, it’s only one player, but nationally ranked receiver MarQuez North is one of three prospects that will make or break Tennessee’s 2013 signing class.
(North’s 247 Composite Rankings are in the second row in the graphic above)
With one of the three players already in the fold — a full week before most expected him to announce his decision — Butch Jones is off to a good start.
If the Vols land defensive lineman Carl Lawson or safety Vonn Bell, the class will take another big leap. But fans can rest easier knowing that UT will get at least one of its elite targets, and get one at a position of great need.
Here’s how it went down tonight…
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — We made some minor changes to the list, tweaking a few percentages slightly. I also added four-star WR Shelton Richardson, a West Virginia commitment who I had forgotten to include on the first installment.
The Chongo Kondolo situation remains unclear. JC Shurburtt tweeted Monday that the juco offensive lineman had committed to the Vols, but apparently no one has been able to reach him to confirm that. Because of that, I don’t believe he has been added to the commitment list on either 247 or Rivals.
Defensive end Joe Sanders will soon be off the commitment list, as he is likely bound for juco or prep school. So, if Kondolo is actually in the fold, Tennessee has 17 commitments (including five early enrollees).
(Photo above is of Jaylen Miller, courtesy KNS partner 247)
The assumption had long been that Tennessee coaches would take the maximum they could sign (which is 27, including two counted back to 2012). That seems virtually impossible to happen now. Even if there are many fallback options waiting in the wings — and there may be — it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Vols could get to 27. But we shall see. There’s still a week until National Signing Day.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s risky to speak in absolutes when it comes to football recruiting, but the last few days before National Signing Day may go a long way in defining Tennessee‘s 2013 class — whether it’s seen as a success, a failure or somewhere in between.
It’s no stretch to say that the fate of the class hangs on three prospects — defensive end Carl Lawson, defensive back Vonn Bell and receiver MarQuez North. Getting just one player would be huge. Nabbing all three would represent a home run finish. Going 0-for-3 would make it tough to spin this class as anything other than a huge disappointment.
Think that’s hyperbole? None of the rest of Tennessee’s targets have the same star power and, even if they did, the Vols aren’t leading for most of them.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Running back Johnathan “Rudy” Ford may sign with Tennessee on Feb. 6 or he may go elsewhere.
What is clear is that his bridges to Vanderbilt, the school to which he had been committed for nine months, have been bulldozed.
Forget fans on the message boards, it was Ford’s former future teammates who were most irked by his defection.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — While Tennessee coach Butch Jones will target plenty of high-profile prospects over the 12 days between now and National Signing Day, two of the most important signatures he wants are from players who have been committed all along.
Defensive lineman Jason Carr of Memphis and offensive lineman Dan Skipper of Colorado have long been called “soft commitments,” meaning they are technically committed to Tennessee but have opted to look around.
After flirting with Alabama, Carr has reaffirmed his commitment to UT, moving him into the “hard commitment” category, according to most observers. There had been some talk that he might even visit Knoxville this week to help recruit others.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — New Tennessee coach Butch Jones hosted about a dozen players in Knoxville this weekend, but fans also had to monitor important visits from key targets who were taking trips elsewhere.
No public commitments emerged from the weekend, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of news to catch up on.
Let’s run down what happened in the second-to-last weekend before National Signing Day on Feb. 6.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — In case you missed, the 2013 version of the Tennessee Vols football team is Team 117.
Or, in Twitter parlance, #Team117.
Players started promoting the slogan shortly after an initial team meeting last week. After some initial confusion, the meaning was clear: This is the 117th installment of Tennessee football.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Less than a year after the 2012 National Signing Day, seven members of Tennessee’s 22-man class have moved on.
Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson exceeded already high expectations in 2012, so his decision to pursue the NFL came as no surprise.
But six others — including three consensus four-star prospects — have left the program for various reasons, taking some of the luster off a signing class that wasn’t all that highly rated to begin with.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Here’s a recruiting story you don’t hear very often.
Junior college offensive lineman Cody Clay took an official visit to Tennessee last weekend. He told our partner GoVols247 that it was “nothing short of perfect.”
Clay got plenty of personal time with new head coach Butch Jones, as he was the only official visitor on campus for the weekend. Clay wants to major in criminal justice. Jones is the son of a longtime police chief. They seemed to hit it off.
As he left for his flight back to California, Clay said that he was “definitely leaning toward” choosing Tennessee.