Tennessee’s projected 2015 recruiting class took a slight hit on Tuesday when in-state prospect Drew Richmond selected Ole Miss over Tennessee and Ohio State. The Memphis native is a five-star prospect at his offensive tackle position, the highest rated player in the state of Tennessee and a top target for Butch Jones and his staff as the Vols look to add talented depth to their offensive line. Richmond’s announcement comes on the heels of the news that fellow offensive lineman and Vol commit Chance Hall tore his achilles tendon last week and will miss the remainder of his senior season – not a good week for recruiting along the offensive line.
So, where do the Vols go from here?
Well, Richmond has stated that he will continue to speak with schools and take official visits this fall, so there is certainly a chance that Tennessee can persuade him to change his mind in the coming months. In fact, I would expect the coaching staff to turn the heat up on Richmond even more after hearing the news of his commitment to Ole Miss. This staff understands the importance of locking down in-state players and certainly won’t go down without a fight in this one.
But, assuming that Richmond remains firmly committed to Ole Miss, here are some names to keep an eye on moving forward as Tennessee looks to cover their bases in the coming months:
–Patrick Allen: Allen is currently committed to Georgia, but has left the door open for other schools to continue recruiting him. He has Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee as his current top-5 and will likely use all five official visits.
–Alex Givens: In April Givens claimed a top-3 of Auburn, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt until Tennessee offered the in-state tackle and gave him something to think about. He is currently committed to Ole Miss, but the Vols will continue to recruit him up until signing day.
–Marquell Harrell: Harrell committed to Ole Miss early in the recruiting process but backed off of that commitment and committed to Auburn in April. With Tennessee receiving a commitment from his teammate, Venzell Boulware, and having signed his former teammates Elliott and Evan Berry in 2014, look for the Vols to remain in the mix for Harrell.
–Isaiah Prince: Prince recently narrowed his list of schools to Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Ohio State and Tennessee. He had planned to have a decision made before his senior season began, but has since delayed that in order to weigh his options. Prince wants to be sure to visit each school before making his final decision, so expect him to take some officials during the coming months. If the Vols can secure a visit, they’ll have a chance with Prince.
Some other names that may emerge if the Vols can’t have some success with the names mentioned above are Michael Howard, Emanuel McGirt, and William Sweet. We will have more on them in coming weeks.
All in all, this is recruiting and things change daily. Many prospects that have Tennessee on their radar are interested in following the Vols all season to see how the team performs on the field before making their decision. Also, many prospects that Tennessee is after will see Knoxville and the school for the first time when they make their official visits between now and signing day in February, so a lot can and will change in the coming months.