With the announcement made on Sunday that true freshman defensive end Dewayne Hendrix would be transferring from Tennessee before the start of next semester, the position became even more of a priority for Tennessee in the 2015 recruiting class.
As unfortunate as the circumstance is from a depth standpoint, the timing might not be all bad for the Vols on the recruiting front. As Butch Jones announced Hendrix’s decision to the gathered media after Sunday’s practice, Nashville-native Kyle Phillips – Tennessee’s highest rated target at defensive end – was wrapping up his official visit to Rocky Top.
Phillips is an early enrollee who is expected to announce his college decision in the coming days, and it now appears that Tennessee needs him more than ever. This visit to Knoxville was the last official visit Phillips will take before making his decision, and the Vols are carrying a lot of momentum with the 4-star Hillsboro High School standout.
Below are a pair of tweets that Phillips sent out on Saturday featuring some of the highlights from his visit. The first is a picture taken of ‘The Rock” on Tennessee’s campus that was painted to welcome current Tennessee commits, and fellow early enrollees, Quinten Dormady, Chance Hall and Alvin Kamara to campus. The paining also featured a message directed towards Phillips that reads, “#Volnation NEEDS U K. Phillips.”
The second tweet features pictures of Phillips in Tennessee’s locker room wearing a Vol uniform with Butch Jones, and another with Phillips posing with his mother.
We should learn exactly what Phillips thought of his visit in a matter of days when he makes his announcement, but it looks like Tennessee is currently in as good of shape as anyone.
Another mid-state native, and fellow 4-star recruit, Ugo Amadi, has said on numerous occasions that he planned to play together with Phillips in college, and recent happenings are pointing towards Tennessee as their likely destination. Amadi – also an early enrollee – decommitted from Ole Miss on Saturday and will now decide between LSU and Tennessee this week. Phillips is expected to make his decision between LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
It isn’t wise to rule out LSU as a possibility, but the distance-from-home factor is clearly in Tennessee’s favor in this case.