KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — National Signing Day is only about 48 hours away, so it’s time to do away with the percentages and start to make firm predictions.
Of Tennessee’s remaining targets, I predict the Vols to get three more players — defensive back Vonn Bell and defensive linemen Malik Brown and Jaylen Miller.
There are a couple of other targets — like running back Johnathan Ford and quarterback Joshua Dobbs — who I predicted to go to other schools, but have a very real chance at signing with Tennessee.
Finally, there could be other fall-back options that we haven’t talked much about who could end up signing. Tennessee will have plenty of space if coaches want to take a flyer on a prospect or two.
So if the class finishes with Bell, Brown and Miller, would it be considered a success? Probably. The Vols would be able to claim two of their top three targets — Bell and receiver MarQuez North — and would have addressed serious depth issues at defensive back and receiver. UT would probably move into a the top-25 nationally and solidify a top-10 finish in the SEC.
On the negative side, the Vols would still have unaddressed needs on offensive line and at running back. The class would be well under capacity. And while Jones and his staff have earned well-deserved praise for their work in the last two months, it’s worth remembering the excitement surrounding Derek Dooley’s first class in 2010 that was ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Where Tennessee stands now: UT has 17 commitments, including five who have already enrolled. They’ll have plenty of space, so they could still formally announce Joe Sanders as a signee, even though it appears he’s bound for junior college or prep school.
How many players can UT add? The Vols can take up to 27, including two of the five early enrollees who will be counted back to 2012. That leaves 10 open spots, but it appears very unlikely almost impossible they will fill all of them.
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, Alabama and Ohio State. The teams made their final push last Thursday. Bell grew up UT fan and seems comfortable with Jones and staff, and Alabama’s class is getting more and more crowded. PREDICTION: VOLS. Will announce on NSD.
3-star DL Jaylen Miller. It would be stunner if Miller goes anywhere else. In fact, it’s difficult to say which team is No. 2. That said, he did visit Wake Forest and N.C. State over the weekend, so there is a bit of suspense. PREDICTION: VOLS. Will announce on NSD.
3-star DE Malik Brown: He’s a Syracuse commit, but he’s from south Florida, so Tennessee seems like an easy sell, right? Especially since coaches are putting on the full-court press. He picked Tennessee over North Carolina State for his final official visit, and while it’s no gimme, I expect him to flip. PREDICTION: VOLS. Will announce on National Signing Day at noon.
4-star LB E.J. Levenberry. FSU commit. He visited UT over the weekend, and his dad’s subsequent interviews left the door open to a flip — but only a crack. FSU fans are preparing for the worst, as they’ve weathered several de-commitments after off-season staff changes, but I think they’ll hold on to this one. PREDICTION: FLORIDA STATE Unclear if an announcement is planned, as he already had a ceremony to commit to Florida State earlier.
4-star RB Johnathan “Rudy” Ford. After officially decommitting from Vandy, Ford has narrowed it down to Auburn and UT. Ford visited Auburn last weekend, but went to great lengths to keep it secret, which was unusual — and seemingly unnecessary. Auburn also accepted a commitment from former Ole Miss RB commit Peyton Barber over the weekend. However, Auburn’s running back situation is so dire that might not necessarily have any impact on Ford’s choice. This one is extremely tough to call, but I’m going to give a slight edge to Auburn simply because of geography, which is one of recruiting’s most important factors. PREDICTION: AUBURN. Announcement planned for National Signing Day.
4-star WR Tyler Boyd. Boyd, a Pittsburgh commitment who is visited this weekend, is agonizing over his decision. The latest comments from his coach suggest that Pitt is still probably No. 1, but that Boyd was impressed with his visit. I still give UT a chance of flipping, but strictly playing the odds, I have to give the edge to his hometown team PREDICTION: PITTSBURGH. Unclear if announcement is planned.
4- star DE Davin Bellamy. Bellamy raved about his UT visit, raved about his Georgia visit and then raved about his Oregon visit this weekend. He officially decommitted from Florida State a week ago and said he will choose between those three schools. The only wild card is rumors about UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s future . Could that make Bellamy wait until after Signing Day? PREDICTION: GEORGIA. He is likely to announce on NSD.
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. He hasn’t said much of anything about his decision-making process, so we’re left to guess. But he canceled a Clemson trip, so it’s probably either ASU or UT. Due to lack of information, this is very tough to call, so we’ll give the edge to the team he’s been committed to. PREDICTION: ARIZONA STATE. No new announcement currently planned.
4-star LB Trey Johnson. He took “secret trip” to UT last month, but it looks like he’s sticking with his commitment to Ohio State. PREDICTION: OHIO STATE.
4-star WR Shelton Gibson. He seemed to briefly waver from his commitment to West Virginia after a visit to UT earlier this month, but stayed with the Mountaineers. Tight ends coach Brad Elder may have made a last push for Gibson earlier this week, but it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere. PREDICTION: WEST VIRGINIA.
4-star OL Christian Morris. He visited UT on Jan. 11, so he should have been on this list from the start, but I forgot about him. For whatever reason, things didn’t appear to click on his visit and it doesn’t appear he will be signing with UT. Officially a UCLA commit, he visited Ole Miss this weekend. PREDICTION: OLE MISS.
OFF THE BOARD
5-star DE Carl Lawson. Reaffirmed his commitment after a visit to Auburn this weekend.
4-star LB Zach Cunningham. He didn’t come to UT as planned on Sunday, and it looks like this ship has sailed. Will announce on NSD between Auburn, Oregon and Vandy.
3-star DL Antonio Riles. Canceled last weekend’s trip due to weather. No plans to reschedule. Florida commit.
3-star LB Jonathan Walton: Visited UT earlier in January, but picked South Carolina.
3-star OL Chongo Kondolo. Committed to Nebraska, which was a mild surprise only because he was erroneously reported as a UT commitment a few days ago.
Converse with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or Tumblr .
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);