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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“Are we going to run the ball on 4 and Short situations? Asking for a friend.” – TJ
Nathanael: If I had to guess, not only will the Vols run the ball on fourth and short situations, but they may even do so out of a power package like the I formation or something. I’d be surprised if we see a lot of conservative play-calling from this group. Unless it’s fourth and short from UT’s own like 15 or something.
Will: I’d assume so, yes.
“Do you think we will sign any 5 stars and if so, who?” – @thefloridavol
Nathanael: The most likely candidates for this are Quay Walker and Olaijah Griffin. Walker is a 5-star per 247Sports and Griffin is a 5-star per the 247Sports Composite rankings. I believe Isaac Taylor-Stuart is still a 5-star by some services as well. But I think the Vols do manage to snag Walker and keep him away from both Georgia and Alabama, but that’s it. I think as hard as the Vols have tried with Griffin, he stays on the west coast.
Will: Tennessee has a solid shot at Walker at the moment. Griffin is a little less likely, but there’s definitely a decent chance there as well. It’s hard to make educated predictions about these guys because we have no precedent for Pruitt’s ability to close late before signing day.
“Who would be a surprise commitment on NSD?” – @clint_b83
Nathanael: Someone like Isaac Taylor-Stuart, Tyson Campbell, or Nesta Silvera. These are both players who the Vols have been able to get to visit (though Taylor-Stuart hasn’t officially visited yet, but he’s coming in this weekend), but I don’t give Tennessee a high chance of landing either. But they’re still very much in the race to land them. I don’t necessarily think getting Jacob Copeland would be a huge surprise, but the Vols aren’t trending his way any longer for sure.
Will: Copeland would be a surprise to me. Ever since Alabama got more in the mix, they’ve made things hard on Tennessee. I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t head there or Florida.
“What in your opinion is the best & most realistic outcome to for this recruiting cycle?” – @whalen614
Nathanael: I don’t think it’s unrealistic for the Vols to end up with a top 15 class when it’s all said and done. I think Tennessee gets some highly-rated players like Walker, Taiyon Palmer, and Jashaun Corbin but still miss out on those true program-changers (with the exception of Walker) like Griffin and Taylor-Stuart. If they manage to get one of those players and maybe another highly-rated prospect, you’re looking at potentially a top 10 class. But I think top 15 is much more likely and very doable.
Will: This team should be top 15. Pruitt can certainly add four to five more players and cement that position. They’ve got an outside shot at a top ten ranking if Walker and Griffin both sign, but that’s a bit of a long shot.
“What’s the basketball team’s biggest weakness? And do you think they can overcome it enough to make a Sweet 16 run?” – Mark
Nathanael: Their biggest weakness is their inconsistent guard play. The Vols need at least one, if not two, of their guards they use on rotation to step up and be a consistent No. 3 contributor. With that being said, however, I do think they can overcome that and make a run in the NCAAT. The Vols’ guards have the ability to get hot and play well for a couple games, and that could propel the Vols to the Sweet Sixteen. I wouldn’t put my money on it happening, but it’s definitely not impossible.
Will: It all stems from the guard play on any given night. I think they’ve recently started to take too many jump shots and settle for more contested looks. The Vols took 30 shots from 3-point range at Iowa State. But they also made 12. That high percentage won’t continue every night. They need to rely more on the forwards. I’m just not sure these guards can beat a top 20 team by themselves, and that’s when they’d run into trouble come March.