Vols Use Big Recruiting Weekend to Address Needs

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    Not only did the Vols have a big couple days of recruiting this past weekend, but they also addressed some of the biggest future needs on their roster with the handful of commitments they picked up.

    Tennessee added commitments from four-star running back Lyn-J Dixon, three-star running back Anthony Grant Jr., and three-star defensive tackle and former LSU commit Jamarcus Chatman this weekend (all rankings are according to 247Sports). Those trio of commitments pushed the Vols into the top five team rankings for their 2018 class on 247Sports, Rivals, and Scout and gave them the No. 8 class on ESPN.

    But the Vols’ newest commitments did more than just improve Tennessee’s standing in the 2018 team rankings; they gave the Vols help at positions of need.

    Coming into the weekend, the Vols had no running back commitments in their 2018 class after missing out on in-state running back Master Teague earlier in the month. Tennessee needed at least one but probably two or even three running backs in the 2018 class to bolster depth for the 2018 season and beyond. And the Vols addressed that in a big way on Saturday and Sunday.

    Lyn-J Dixon is the higher rated of Tennessee’s two new running back commitments, but both Dixon and Anthony Grant Jr. bring athleticism and versatility that the Vols need at the position for the future. Dixon is more of the speedy back that uses his elusive footwork to evade defenders, but he can plow through defenders as well. Grant has impressive straight line speed and is built similarly to a receiver right now.

    The Vols needed athleticism and explosiveness at the running back position moving forward. And they got just that with Dixon and Grant over the weekend.

    Tennessee already had commitments from two highly-rated defensive tackles coming into this weekend. Four-star in-state tackles D’Andre Litaker and Brant Lawless are built like typical defensive tackles and measure in around 285 to 300 pounds.

    But Jamarcus Chatman is built differently and has a strong frame that could allow him to play either tackle or end in college. At 6-foot-3, 267 pounds, Chatman has played both positions in high school and has the athleticism to fit in at end but the strength to play at tackle as well.

    “Tweeners” like Chatman are highly-coveted in recruiting because of their versatility. That raw athleticism is one reason JUCO defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo was such a hot commodity in the 2016 recruiting cycle, and it’s made Chatman highly sought after as well. Chatman holds offers from 60 schools, and many of them are from premier programs across the country.

    Right now, the Vols don’t have any commitments from any true defensive ends in their 2018 class. They are still pursuing several, however, and Tennessee will look to add one or two before National Signing Day. But Chatman gives the Vols an intriguing choice at the position and could easily play at end if he’s needed there more than at tackle.

    The Vols used a big recruiting weekend to leap forward in the 2018 team recruiting rankings, but they more importantly used it to address some big needs in their class as well. Tennessee now sits in good position with their 15 commitments and only have a few positions of need remaining to address in the 2018 cycle after this weekend.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    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.