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.
First-year coach Butch Jones can add as many as 10 more players to this class, but unless there are many “fall-back” options waiting in the wings that we don’t know about, it could be difficult for UT to reach the maximum.
Where UT stands now: Offensive lineman Dan Skipper de-committed and plans to sign with Arkansas. UT expects to eventually add juco offensive lineman Chongo Kondolo, although Kondolo hasn’t confirmed his commitment yet. Defensive end Joe Sanders is likely bound for juco or prep school. That puts Tennessee at 17. The Vols can sign a maximum 27 (with two counted back to 2012).
Remaining targets with 247 Composite Ranking and odds of signing with UT:
5-star DB Vonn Bell. Visited UT last weekend and likely to decide between UT and Alabama. Bell grew up UT fan and seems comfortable with Jones and staff. 60 PERCENT.
4-star WR MarQuez North. It’s been a UT-UNC battle for a while, and the Charlotte native hasn’t tipped his hand. Absent other information, we’ll keep it even. 50 PERCENT.
3-star DL Jaylen Miller. Everyone thought he’d be committed to UT by now. But he hasn’t. He could be milking the drama to Signing Day or he could be considering ACC options like Wake Forest, Georgia Tech or Maryland. 50 PERCENT.
5-star DE Carl Lawson. UT felt good about its standing, but he’s an Auburn commit and Auburn is getting last shot this weekend. 35 PERCENT.
4-star LB E.J. Levenberry. FSU commit. His visit to UT last weekend was canceled due to weather and his case of the flu. He seems flippable but is there enough time before National Signing Day? 25 PERCENT.
4-star RB Johnathan “Rudy” Ford. He officially decommitted from Vandy. Now it’s between Auburn and UT, but most think AU has the edge. 25 PERCENT.
4- star DE Davin Bellamy. A soft FSU commit, Bellamy raved about his UT visit but now seems to favor Georgia. 20 PERCENT.
4-star QB Joshua Dobbs. Arizona State commit visited UT last weekend. He’s super-smart and wants to study aerospace engineering. He’s from suburban Atlanta, but distance doesn’t seem to be an issue. 20 PERCENT.
3-star DE Malik Brown: He’s a Syracuse commit, but he’s from south Florida, so he may not fully realize what he’s signed up for. Tennessee seems like an easy sell, right? We’ll see if there’s enough time. 15 PERCENT but higher if he comes on an official visit this weekend.
3-star LB Jonathan Walton: Visited UT earlier in January, but looks like he’s deciding between Auburn and South Carolina. 15 PERCENT.
3-star RB Aregeros Turner: Former Cincy commit. He hasn’t visited yet, but could be a fall-back option that UT ends up turning to. 15 PERCENT, although much higher if he visits this weekend.
3-star RB Peyton Barber. Ole Miss commit from Georgia visited UT on Jan. 18. May visit Miami this weekend. Hasn’t yet wavered from Ole Miss. 15 PERCENT.
4-star LB Trey Johnson. He took “secret trip” to UT this weekend, but it looks like he’s sticking with his commitment to Ohio State. 10 PERCENT.
4-star LB Zach Cunningham. He didn’t come to UT as planned on Sunday, and while it’s not clear, it doesn’t appear it was because of weather. Unless UT can get him in this weekend, it looks like this ship has sailed. 10 PERCENT.
4-star WR Tyler Boyd. Briefly considered UT, but apparently sticking with Pitt commit. 5 PERCENT.
3-star LB Skai Moore. Previously committed to Rutgers, but opened it back up. Hasn’t visited UT yet, so it may be too late to get into mix. 5 PERCENT.
3-star DL Antonio Riles. Canceled last weekend’s trip due to weather. No plans to reschedule. Florida commit. 5 PERCENT.
That’s it. Unless I’m forgetting/missing someone (which is quite possible), any player that Tennessee signs who is not on this list will be a shocker out of left field or a fall-back option who hasn’t gotten much attention up until now.
I’ll try to keep this updated from now until next week. What do you think? Are any of my predictions too high or too low? Converse with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or Tumblr .
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