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Tennessee Gets Blasted in Recruiting Article

Tennessee’s recruiting in the 2018 class is off to an extremely strong start. The Vols have a consensus top-10 class by all major recruiting services and have a top-5 class according to some. Tennessee has two quarterbacks committed in the class as well. Four-star Adrian Martinez and three-star Michael Penix have both pledged themselves to the Vols in this class.

But the Vols were heavily pursuing some of the top names at the quarterback position early on in the 2018 cycle, and they missed out on them all despite being in good standing with several of them for an extended period of time.

Now, that’s not to say the quarterbacks the Vols have committed right now are bad. Far from it; Martinez especially has a high ceiling and is a top-200 overall player according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

But the Vols were courting five-stars and top-100 overall players at one point at the position, and according to an article from Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, something one of Tennessee’s recruiting directors did a couple years ago didn’t help Tennessee’s chances in landing one of the top quarterbacks in the 2018 class.

According to Thamel’s article, Justin Fields, now rated as high as the No. 1 overall player in the country by 247Sports, visited Tennessee during his sophomore season and came away with a bad taste in his mouth.

“Toward the end of Justin Fields‘ sophomore year at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia, he and his father wanted to take a recruiting visit to Tennessee,” Thamel wrote. “Ivan Fields called the Volunteers’ director of on-campus recruiting, who viewed Fields’ film, questioned his height and finally asked, ‘Are we even recruiting you guys?’ Ivan and Justin Fields ended up begging to get into a Tennessee game that year, but didn’t exactly receive Southern hospitality. ‘They barely shook our hand,’ Ivan Fields said, ‘and didn’t know who we were.'”

Almost two years have passed since that meeting, and now the Fields’ family says Tennessee, of course, has taken notice of their son now.

“And yes, Tennessee coaches know who he is these days,” Thamel wrote. “as the entire coaching staff greeted the Fields family at their car on a visit during his junior year. ‘A lot of things changed,’ Ivan Fields said, ‘very quickly.'”

The story from the Fields’ family paints the Vols’ in a damaging light. Of course, as a sophomore quarterback from out of state, Tennessee may not have known exactly who Fields was. But if the actual conversation that Fields’ father alleged happened actually did occur, then Tennessee didn’t exactly handle the situation with grace.

The Vols were, however, one of the earlier Power Five schools to extend a scholarship offer to Fields. According to the timeline on 247Sports, Fields picked up his first official offer on May 5th, 2016 from North Carolina. The Vols would offer him just a month and a half later on July 27th, 2016. And that was almost a week after Fields had visited the Vols at a camp, and he would unofficially visit Tennessee a month later as well. He would also go on to unofficially visit the Vols a couple times during the 2016 season.

If the story about how the Fields family was treated two years ago is true, it’s a bad look for Tennessee and its recruiting department at the time. But the Vols’ recruiting department has changed personnel since then, and this story hasn’t seemed to affect Tennessee’s recruiting in this class all that much. Because even though this story is just now being made public to fans, there’s a good chance other recruits and opposing coaches knew about it already.

Fields decommitted from Penn State back in early June of this year. But it’s unknown whether the Vols are still pursuing him like they once did. Tennessee appears happy with the quarterbacks they have in the class, and the potential his high for both of them.

But plenty of Vol fans will be left wondering “what could’ve been?” with this situation, and the story, true or not, doesn’t reflect well on Tennessee.

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3 Responses

  1. Nobody is wondering “what could have been”. The state of journalism is sad these days. You ferret out one bad scenario and make a story out of nothing. Iguess you got what you wanted, I read it.

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