KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Vols have added an elite defensive lineman since we last took a big-picture view of their 2014 recruiting efforts.
The verbal commitment of DaVonte Lambert gives UT a highly rated player at a position of need (defensive line). Plus, he’ll come in with two years of junior college seasoning and thus be more likely to play right away.
UT also lost two players when veterans Naz Oliver, a defensive back, and Channing Fugate, a linebacker, decided to move on.
Fugate has landed back in his home state at Eastern Kentucky. Because both players are seniors, their departure doesn’t affect the 2014 recruiting calculus in any way.
With about five spots left, the Vols have essentially met all their needs except for the offensive line.
Remember the projected numbers at each position aren’t written in stone and are merely estimates of what the average SEC team might want. Teams could easily get away with fewer than 14 offensive lineman, as that’s a developmental position and not one in which players start from Day 1. However, there are only 85 scholarship spots to play with. And if UT coaches would like to have, say, 15 receivers, as I believe they do, those numbers must be deducted somewhere else.
Finally, remember that coaches have a better handle on future attrition than we do. So their recruiting aims often prepare for inevitable departures that have yet to occur.
We think Tennessee now has 81 players on scholarship, although walk-on and scholarship status is sometimes tough to determine. Here’s how that group breaks down as the Vols prepare to enter the 2013 season.
I’ll have more on the roster for a story in Wednesday’s News Sentinel. Consider this a sneak preview.
BY YEAR AT UT:
GAMES PLAYED AT UT:
30 or more: 13
GAMES STARTED AT UT:
20 or more: 5
BY HOME STATE:
South Carolina: 5
North Carolina: 4
Illinois, Mississippi, Maryland, Michigan: 1 each
BY SIGNING CLASS:
* four players started their careers as walk-ons
* one player (Alex Bullard) transferred from Notre Dame
* one player (Tino Thomas) signed in 2011, but enrolled in 2012 and is included in the 2012 class.
BY 247 COMPOSITE RANKING:
5 stars: 1
4 stars: 22
3 stars: 51
2 stars: 2
* five players were not ranked