Where Former Vol Commits Landed in 2017 Recruiting Cycle

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    Tennessee brought in 27 signees in their 2017 recruiting class, but the story of how they got there was an interesting one. Throughout the process of bringing in the 27 signees they ended up with, the Vols had to shuffle around their recruiting class thanks to a whopping 13 decommitments over the last year and a half.

    The 13 players who were once committed to Tennessee and went elsewhere were the most in a single class in the Butch Jones era. Jones’ first full class, the 2014 class, saw eight players decommit throughout the recruiting cycle. The 2015 class had just five decommitments, and the 2016 class saw 11 players decommit (with Jonathan Kongbo eventually coming back to the Vols and signing with them).

    Of the 13 players who moved on from the Vols’ 2017 class, two were rated as five-stars, three as four-stars, and eight as three-stars according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. The majority of those 13 players, oddly enough, ended up at ACC schools. Eight of Tennessee’s 13 decommitments signed with ACC teams on National Signing Day. Others, meanwhile, landed in some surprising locations.

    Here is a breakdown of where former Vol commitments ended up signing in the 2017 recruiting cycle.

    Tee Higgins – WR

    The highest-rated Vol decommit in the 2017 cycle, Tee Higgins made a huge splash when he decided to pledge his commitment to the Vols. But then almost exactly a year ago, Higgins chose to open up his recruitment again, and exactly five months later, Higgins announced he had committed to Clemson. The Tigers ended up signing him on Wednesday. The in-state wide receiver was rated as the No. 19 overall player in the country and No. 3 player in the state of Tennessee.

    Hunter Johnson – QB

    At one point, the Vols had a five-star quarterback committed in the 2017 class and had their sights on two of the best quarterbacks in the 2018 class. They’ve ended up with neither of those panning out, however, and the 2017 quarterback, Hunter Johnson, ended up at Clemson as well. Johnson, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class, decommitted in mid-December of 2015 and ended up committing to the Tigers. He officially signed with Clemson on Wednesday.

    C.J. Cotman – Athlete

    C.J. Cotman, an athlete out of Clearwater, Florida, decommitted from the Vols right around Thanksgiving and claimed Tennessee took away his offer. Cotman was the third of a trio of players who decommitted from Tennessee’s class on the same night in late November. The four-star athlete visited the campus of North Carolina on December 9th, committed to the Tarheels on December 12th, and officially signed with them on National Signing Day.

    K.D. Nixon – WR

    The Vols needed wide receivers in this class, and they had a commitment from a diminutive four-star at one point in their class. K.D. Nixon, a 5-foot-8 receiver out of DeSoto, Texas, committed to Tennessee in mid-April of 2016. Just a couple months later, however, Nixon chose to open up his recruitment again. Nixon eventually committed to Colorado in October, and that’s where he signed on Wednesday.

    Breyon Gaddy – DT

    One of the revered “Gaddy twins,” Breyon Gaddy and his twin brother, Brandon, committed to Tennessee on July 19th. Breyon, a massive 6-foot-5, 335 pound four-star defensive tackle, not only gave the Vols a commitment at a position of need, but he also had athleticism in spades for someone his size. He and his brother, however, chose to move on from Tennessee in late November, and both ended up signing with Maryland.

    Jaquan Henderson – S

    Jaquan Henderson was the Vols’ last decommitment of the 2017 class. The three-star safety out of Covington, Georgia chose to leave Tennessee’s 2017 class on January 22nd, just two days after a visit to Georgia Tech. He ended up committing to Georgia Tech that same day, and he signed with the Yellow Jackets on National Signing Day.

    Jordan Riley – DT

    One of the first commitments in the 2017 class, Jordan Riley ended up being the first decommitment of Tennessee’s 2017 class as well. The three-star defensive tackle was thought to have high upside, but he chose to open up his recruitment in late July of 2015. Riley eventually ended up committing to North Carolina in February of 2016 and enrolled early with the Tarheels in early January of this year.

    Brandon Gaddy – DT

    As mentioned above, Brandon Gaddy, part of the “Gaddy twins” duo, committed to Tennessee on the same day as his twin brother, Breyon. And just like his brother, he decommitted from the Vols on the same day as well. The pair ended up at Maryland together and signed with the Terrapins for National Signing Day.

    Chase Rogers – TE

    The Vols made adding tight ends a priority in their 2017 class, but one tight end, Chase Rogers, didn’t end up staying with Tennessee. Rogers, a three-star tight end out of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, decided to part ways with the Vols on November 13th just a day after unofficially visiting the Texas Longhorns. Rogers wouldn’t end up at Texas, however, instead choosing to sign with Louisiana-Lafayette.

    Tre Lawson – DE

    Tennessee added a plethora of defensive linemen in their 2017 signing class, and at one point they had three-star defensive end Tre Lawson committed in the class along with their number of other pass rushers. Lawson pledged his commitment to Tennessee on June 18th with a handful of other recruits, but he ended up decommitting from the Vols on December 13th. Lawson then officially visited Florida State in mid-January and wound up committing and signing with the Seminoles.

    Jordan Tucker – OL

    Jordan Tucker is yet another former Vol commit that found a home at an ACC school on National Signing Day. Tucker, a 6-foot-7 offensive lineman out of Roswell, Georgia, committed to Tennessee on June 18th in the midst of a flurry of commitments for the Vols that day. Tucker, however, would not remain part of the Vols’ class. Instead, Tucker would decommit on October 13th, commit to North Carolina in mid-January, and sign with the Tarheels.

    Mo Burnham – LB

    The Vols needed linebacker depth for the future of the position, and Mo Burnham figured to be part of that future depth once he committed to Tennessee on March 5th. Burnham’s commitment would last about nine months before he parted ways with the Vols on December 12th. He then gave Indiana a Christmas gift and committed to them on Christmas day. Burnham wound up signing with Indiana on Wednesday.

    C.J. Lewis – QB

    Tennessee’s search for a quarterback in the 2017 class after the decommitment of Hunter Johnson took some wild, twisting turns. Initially, C.J. Lewis out of Cheshire, Connecticut, appeared to be the answer. Lewis was a low-rated three-star, but he had potential and athleticism. After he lost his starting job on his high school team, however, it was apparent he wasn’t the quarterback the Vols were looking for. The two parted ways on November 22nd, and Lewis committed to Boston College on Christmas and signed with them on National Signing Day.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.