We are just under two weeks away from National Signing Day and it’s crunch time for Butch Jones and the Tennessee coaching staff. As of right now, the Vols have 17 commits for the 2016 class and will likely try to finish with around 22 total – which means there is still a lot of work to be done before February 3rd. So let’s take a look at some of the most recent news in Tennessee recruiting and what Vol fans can expect before national signing day.
Callaway Commits: Earlier today, four-star athlete Marquez Callaway gave his verbal commitment to the Tennessee Volunteers. He can play corner, but has been recruited to play receiver for the big orange. Receivers Coach Zach Azzanni spent the afternoon with Callaway and it seems he must have bought what Azzanni was selling. Callaway, a native of Warner Robins, GA chose the Vols over the in-state Bulldogs and brings speed and play-making ability to the receiving corps.
Vols Leading for Bailey: Earlier this week, three-star defensive lineman JaQuan Bailey named Tennessee his leader. Bailey, who is from Jacksonville, FL, had been committed to Florida until December when he decided to re-open his recruitment. And thus far, Tennessee is in good shape to sign him. Not only did he recently have a seemingly great visit with new Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop, just yesterday he had an in-home visit with an Iowa State coach and tweeted a picture of himself with the coach wearing a Tennessee shirt. He hasn’t committed yet, but the kid is definitely gushing orange.
Kongbo Not Likely: Johnathan Kongbo III, a former Tennessee commit and number one JUCO player in the nation, seems to be drifting farther and farther from re-committing to the Vols. While both Bob Shoop and Steve Stripling made an in-home visit to Kongbo just a few days ago, he has set his final official visits with Florida State and Alabama – both of which Kongbo seems to be leaning towards over Tennessee. Anything is still possible, but I’m thinking the ship has sailed on this one.
Must Haves: Tennessee’s recruiting class will definitely be much smaller than the previous two years, however there is still plenty of room for the Vols to get everything they need. The list of needs starts first and foremost with four-star safety Nigel Warrior. The son of former Vol standout Dale Carter has had Tennessee at the top of his list for a long time, but for some reason he has yet to pull the trigger. Warrior looks a lot like Todd Kelly Jr. at the safety position and is an absolute must have for Butch Jones to complete this class.
Another desperate need for Tennessee to finish this recruiting class strong is linemen – especially on defensive side of the ball. With only one defensive lineman in the class (Alexis Johnson), the Vols desperately need to add at least one or two more. Hopefully JaQuan Bailey adds to that list, but the coaching staff at Tennessee better make sure he isn’t their only option in case he falls through.
Upcoming Visits: Both this weekend and next will be huge for Tennessee as they will be hosting several recruits on official visits. This weekend receivers Mykel Jones and Latrell Williams will join defensive tackle Chris Daniels and current Tennessee commit Daniel Bituli on Rocky Top. While next weekend will bring Tennessee commits Ryan Johnson, JaQuain Blakely, Carlin Fils-aime, Corey Henderson, Devante Brooks and Jarrett Guarantano along with others including Nigel Warrior, Tyler Byrd, Ahmmon Richards, and Derrick Brown.
If all goes well, the Tennessee coaching staff will reel in some last-minute elite-level talent to finish somewhere around 17th in recruiting.