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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“When is Minshew visiting UT’s campus????” – @ehare56
Nathanael: As of right now, Gardner Minshew not scheduled to visit Tennessee just yet, but I think he wants to visit soon. The Vols are hosting Stanford grad transfer QB Keller Chryst this weekend, though.
“How many grad transfer players do you think the Vols end up adding before the 2018 season starts? My money is on three guys.” – Bart
Nathanael: I think three is a solid number, but it may end up just being two. But I know I would like to see three added. I think the Vols add a grad transfer QB, defensive lineman, and offensive lineman. I know a lot of people want to see a grad transfer corner added, but the Vols haven’t expressed any interest in any right now that I’ve seen.
Will: Three seems like a reasonable number. I said Thursday on our RTI Live show that if Pruitt can add one player on the defensive line, secondary and quarterback rooms, it’ll be a success.
“Any Vols getting drafted before the 3rd round?” – @VFLTweets
Nathanael: I would say “no” on that. I think John Kelly gets drafted in the third or fourth round, and I think Rashaan Gaulden goes in a similar range. I think Gaulden could maybe sneak into the late picks of the second round, but I would be a little surprised by that. But not because I don’t think he’s good enough to get drafted that early; I just think teams will sleep on him because of the lack of success the Vols had while he was here and how bad the defense was overall while he was on the roster. That wasn’t his fault, though. Gaulden was consistently a great player.
Will: If anyone can, it’s Rashaan Gaulden. He’s already been rising steadily up draft boards. I’m very interested to see how much he can move up at the combine. He was easily the brightest spot of Tennessee’s defense a year ago, but I think at best he’s probably a mid to high third round pick.
“Shamar Nash to Missouri? Is there some connection?” – Brian
Nathanael: I wouldn’t freak out too much about this one. I’ve seen people online getting worried about it, but I wouldn’t. Nash was from Memphis and just recently transferred to IMG Academy in 2018. So Chris Weinke’s connection to IMG Academy didn’t even get a chance to make a difference there, and Tennessee hasn’t been able to recruit Memphis consistently well in my lifetime. I know Nash said in a recent interview that the Vols were back in the conversation with him, but recruits say stuff like that all the time then go to other schools. Take National Signing Day this year for example. The Vols could still flip him anyway. It’s only February. But I wouldn’t worry about this one too much.
Will: Maybe Cuonzo Martin helped out?
“Shoot it to me straight: Will the basketball Vols actually get past the Sweet Sixteen?” – Aaron
Nathanael: They certainly can, but if I had to lay down a prediction right now I would say “no.” It will largely depend on who they end up matched up against. Joe Lunardi’s bracket predictions would have the No. 4 seed Vols likely matched up against No. 1 seed Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen should UT make it that far, and Jerry Palm’s bracketology has Tennessee as a No. 3 seed and likely matching up with No. 2 seed Duke in the Sweet Sixteen. I don’t like either of those match-ups, but getting a rematch with Villanova might not be the worst thing.
Will: I don’t think so. Their point guard play has to be better if they want to close out a high pressure game in the NCAA Tournament. I just don’t see Jordan Bone or James Daniel carrying this team when it really matters on the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. If Bone, Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield all play up to their full potential at the same time, this team could make the final four. That’s just a huge if.