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Grading the Vols’ 2018 Signing Class

Photo credit: Will Boling/RTI

Tennessee’s 2018 signing class is more or less wrapped up. The RTI team takes a look at the class as a whole and gives their overall grade for the class. Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford, staff writer Will Boling, and recruiting contributor Charley Collier weigh in on the class.

Nathanael’s Grade: B

Given the circumstances, I wanted to give this class at least a B+ or even an A. But there was one thing holding me back, and that was the cornerback position.

I know Jeremy Pruitt said on Wednesday that he didn’t view the Vols’ corners as a position of need. But given the lack of depth there, I think they needed to sign at least one of the main guys they were targeting between Olaijah Griffin, Isaac Taylor-Stuart, Taiyon Palmer, and Eddie Smith. They did add Brandon Davis (who I think is a decent sleeper prospect), and I think Pruitt wants to move Trevon Flowers to corner (and I really like Flowers), but I still don’t think enough was done to address that need. Same goes for wide receiver (even with Alontae Taylor being added).

But given that Pruitt was swinging so hard and only had two months to pull this class together and still managed to pull in the No. 20 overall class according to 247Sports, he definitely gets at least a “B” from me. There are a handful of immediate impact players in this class and several more who should be able to develop in some time. Missing out on all those top guys on National Signing Day was sobering, but the Vols are coming off an 0-8 conference season and had to recruit against two teams in their own conference who just fought for a national title. Things will get better, and this class won’t be the expectation moving forward. But it’s not a bad class regardless. Not at all.

Will’s Grade: B

Perspective is important here. Let’s not forget that Tennessee is coming off its worst season in program history. So missing out on a bunch of five stars on National Signing Day is a sign that things are certainly trending in the right direction despite missing out. But this class isn’t an accurate representation of the high standards Jeremy Pruitt has for himself.

Adding JJ Peterson, a potential day one starter, was crucial. And keeping Alontae Taylor was a major boost as well. If Tennessee had added one or two of those nationally elite guys on signing day, this would be an A. But they filled out the class with underrated guys who were also coveted by powerhouse programs, which is a good sign as well.

Charley’s Grade: B

Part of me wants to give this class an A, just because of circumstance. I can’t, however, in good conscience do that. Maybe if Tennessee landed a few of their top targets Wednesday that could bump things up to an A-, but they honestly had a pretty disappointing day on National Signing Day. While I know some people are disappointed right now because they expected to land another guy or two on signing day, it is important to have perspective. When Pruitt took over, the Vols were in a dark place and their class was ranked in the mid 50’s. In just two weeks, he was able to get into the top 20 by the end of the early signing period.

The new staff was able to find a lot of new players that weren’t even on Tennessee’s radar with the old coaching staff. They were able to keep the signatures of several past commits and gain the interest of many other players. They were able to sign several guys that will have an instant impact, and plenty more can grow into good players. I also like how they addressed certain needs at the JUCO ranks. These coaches are good at evaluating and developing talent. This is a great first class to build a foundation on.

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