Tennessee Football Recruiting: Bits and Pieces
Tennessee’s 2013 recruiting class is currently ranked 30th by 247 Sports, 33rd by ESPN, and 30th by Rivals. As the Vols close on some of these recruits, they’ll climb the rankings. The Vols currently have 18 commits and can sign as many as 27 players this year. Expect Tennessee to finish with a class ranked in the top 20 nationally, and the Vols have a good shot at sneaking into the top 15.
Jason Carr/Vonn Bell
4* DE Jason Carr wants to come back to campus this weekend is to help recruit 5* Safety Von Bell on his visit. He has also reportedly shut down the rest of his visits and is sticking with TN. Alabama has signed a former pro baseball player to play safety which could mean Von Bell could be favoring the Vols. After visiting Alabama last weekend, Bell hosted Coach Jones and the entire Vol defensive staff in his home Monday.
A.J. Branisel: Branisel committed to Tennessee earlier this month and has shown no indications of signing anywhere else. Branisel has tremendous speed for his size, running a 4.5 40 yard dash. The Vols desperately need help at the tight end position with the loss of Rivera and Branisel has the potential to see immediate playing time.
Dylan Wiesman: Like Branisel, Wiesman committed to Tennessee earlier this month and has not wavered on that pledge. He’s a near lock to sign with the Vols and isn’t planning on taking visits elsewhere. Wiesman will likely sit behind the veteran Vol offensive line this season.
Shelton Gibson: Gibson committed to West Virginia last week. He is scheduled to make an unofficial visit to West Virginia this weekend and the Mountaineers lead; however, the Vols gave him something to think about during his trip to Knoxville. This receiver left his official visit wowed by Tennessee’s tradition, facilities, and staff. He plans to bring his family with him to UT for an unofficial visit in two weeks. It will come down to West Virginia and Tennessee, and if he makes the trip to UT in two weeks, Coach Jones’ chances to sign him go way up. If he signs with Tennessee, he’ll compete for immediate playing time and possibly a starting spot.
Brett Kendrick: Kendrick has been committed to UT since June, but Arkansas (where Chaney and Pittman are on staff) has been making a push to land him. He may visit Arkansas but Kendrick’s weekend trip to UT solidified his commitment to the Vols. Kendrick plays in an uptempo spread offense and should fit well in Coach Jones’ offensive philosophy. The Vols return starters at every position on the offensive line next year and he will have a year to acclimate without being expected to contribute.
Austin Sanders: Sanders has been committed to Tennessee since August of 2011, and isn’t wavering on that pledge. He left his weekend visit praising Tennessee’s coaches. As with Kendrick, Sanders won’t be counted on to start as a freshman and may sit a year.
Josh Smith: Smith has been committed to Tennessee since June, and though Arkansas and Cincinnati have made a recent push to sign him, it would be surprising if he signs elsewhere. It may take a year or so for him to grow into a consistently productive player, but with Tennessee’s lack of depth at receiver, he could see action this fall.
Peyton Barber: Barber has been committed to Ole Miss since July and is scheduled to visit Oxford this weekend, but the Vols aren’t out of the hunt to sign him. His mother is a Tennessee alum and accompanied Peyton on his visit. He was impressed with Tennessee’s facilities and said he could see himself playing for Coach Jones. While he remains committed to Ole Miss, he won’t make his final decision until signing day. Ole Miss clearly leads, but CBJ and his staff believe they have a shot with him. He has reportedly shut down his recruitment as of Thursday morning and remains committed to Ole Miss after a visit from Hugh Freeze earlier this week.
Ryan Jenkins: A former Clemson commit, Jenkins switched his commitment from the Tigers to the Vols January 7th and became the first 4-star recruit to pledge to play for Coach Jones at Tennessee. Jenkins’ visit went extremely well, and he even did his part in trying to convince his friend, 5-star defensive end Carl Lawson, to join him at Tennessee. The receiver picked up a recent offer from Auburn but doesn’t plan on taking any additional visits. Expect Jenkins to see playing time in the slot position this fall.
Cameron Sutton: Sutton has been committed to the Vols since August, but Auburn and Ole Miss have been making a push to land him. Fortunately for Tennessee, it looks like his campus visit left him firmly committed to the Vols, and he may travel back to Knoxville to make an unofficial visit next week. If he stays with his UT commitment, he’ll have a chance to contribute immediately in a secondary.
Malik Foreman: A former Vanderbilt commit, this was Foreman’s first visit to Tennessee last weekend since switching his commitment from the Commodores to the Vols. The visit hopefully helped solidify Foreman’s commitment to Tennessee. Foreman could also see playing time this fall in the Vol secondary.
Jaylen Miller: 4* DE Miller was the lone uncommitted visitor over the weekend and is scheduled to take trips to Maryland and Wake Forest in the coming weeks. Those trips may not happen as he is expected to be the next player to commit to Tennessee. The Vols desperately need defensive lineman in this class and with Miller’s potential to play every position on the defensive front, he’d be almost guaranteed playing time this fall and could challenge for a starting spot. Probable commit as of Thursday AM. Meeting with CBJ today! Could be a done deal tonight.
Davin Bellamy: 4* DE Bellamy has been committed to Florida State since August, but his official visit this weekend certainly left the Vols in excellent position to sign him. Coach Jones is selling the ability to step in and play early to Tennessee’s defensive targets and communicated to Bellamy that the Vols don’t just want him—they need him. While Bellamy ranks the Vols and Seminoles at the top of his list, he’s scheduled to visit Georgia this weekend. He will not make an announcement until signing day. CBJ with a home visit yesterday!
"With the coaches, it definitely was a family feel. I could tell a difference between Dooley's staff and Tennessee's current staff. I honestly think coach Jones is going to be a successful coach. He has the right things in mind and he has the right attitude about things." -Bellamy
Carl Lawson: #1 WDE (and #24 Overall) Lawson is currently committed to Auburn but is keeping his options open. He has scheduled visits to North Carolina and Auburn in the next two weeks, but is strongly considering Tennessee. His good friend, 4-star receiver Ryan Jenkins, is a Vol commit and visited Knoxville with Lawson over the weekend. The Vols, along with Auburn, North Carolina, and Clemson, are in Lawson’s top four. For now, it looks as though Tennessee neither trails nor leads in the race to land him. Potential starter. Lawson is the type of game-changing edge rusher the Volunteers desperately need....
5* RB Derrick Green from Richmond, VA hosted Vols coaches (Bajakian/Graham) on Wednesday and will choose from his Final 3 on Saturday @ 4:00: Auburn, Michigan or Tennessee.
CBJ had an in-home visit with longtime 3* offensive tackle commitment Dan Skipper yesterday. Skipper took an official visit to Arkansas late last week before going to Ohio State last weekend, and he’s scheduled to visit Ole Miss this weekend.
3* all-purpose back JoJo Kemp of DeLand, FL, who once was scheduled to visit Tennessee, now is planning to visit South Florida this weekend and is not expected to make the trip to Knoxville.
DT Maurice Swain of Troup County High School in LaGrange, GA, will also not be visiting Tennessee this weekend.
Vols defensive coordinator John Jancek will visit LB Zach Cunningham today leading up to his scheduled visit to Tennessee this weekend. Cunningham is planning to visit Vanderbilt Friday-Sunday before heading to Knoxville on Sunday for a two-day visit. Cunningham is scheduled to receive visits from both Vanderbilt and Tennessee today.
Tennessee WR coach Zach Azzanni is scheduled to visit with WR Tyler Boyd of Clairton, PA today, who’s still expected to travel to Knoxville this weekend.
Marquez North 4* WR, visited North Carolina last weekend. The Tar Heels are likely Tennessee’s main competition for North. He could play immediately wherever he signs and would be a huge addition to this class.
A recent Tennessee visitor, Chongo Kondolo, took a weekend official visit to Nebraska. The Vols and Cornhuskers are the favorites to sign him and neither program has a clear lead at this point.
Former Penn State commit Jonathan Walton, 3* LB, probable to USCe.
Johnathan Ford, 4* RB has been committed to Vanderbilt since April. Ford may visit Auburn this weekend and though the Tigers may factor into his decision, Vanderbilt and Tennessee are his top two choices. Jay Graham visited Ford Tuesday.
Inside Linebacker EJ Levenberry will be making an official visit to Tennessee this weekend. This long time FSU commit is reportedly not happy with Sal Sunseri's hire in Tallahassee and this may open the door for the Volunteers on National Signing Day.
3* QB Joshua Dobbs will be making the trip up from Alpharetta, GA this weekend if weather permits. He has been firmly committed to Arizona State for some time but all that may change if Coach Jones and staff can put in some work on Rocky Top in the coming days.
With less than two weeks left till Christmas, I mean National Signing Day, it's a familiar place we find ourselves as Tennessee fans.... Anxiously waiting for NSD with a new coach who has been given a fraction of time in which to make something significant happen on the recruiting trail.
It has been fun to watch thus far! Good luck Coach Jones and staff, we're rooting for you! Go Vols!