The Vols brought in several junior college players in their 2018 signing class because Jeremy Pruitt and his staff wanted some players to come in and fill some holes immediately in their first season on campus. And one recruiting expert has pegged defensive lineman Emmit Gooden as the one player who has the greatest chance to make his presence felt among the Vols’ summer enrollees.
Barton Simmons, the Director of Scouting for 247Sports, released his list of the 10 summer enrollees across college football who should make instant impacts at their respective schools. He could’ve chosen any number of Tennessee’s JUCO players or even some of their incoming freshmen like J.J. Peterson or Bryce Thompson. But Simmons selected Gooden as his top choice for the Vols.
“New coach Jeremy Pruitt is trying to quickly turn Tennessee into a bigger, more physical football team,” Simmons writes. “Gooden arrives from the junior college ranks as a 6-foot-4, 305-pound hunk of mass that can be help drive that transition. Jonathan Kongbo has already indicated that he’s making the move to outside linebacker which further opens up some opportunity and a need on the defensive interior for Gooden.”
Simmons isn’t often wrong about his analysis on recruits, and I often agree with what he says. But on this one occasion, I think Gooden isn’t the most obvious or logical choice of instant impact players for Tennessee.
Gooden should see the field immediately for Tennessee, but just how often? If he beats out Shy Tuttle as the starting nose tackle, then Simmons will be right and I’ll be wrong. But I don’t foresee that happening. I think Gooden will be the No. 2 defensive tackle, and he’ll still see the field a lot because I expect Pruitt’s defense to come out in a 4-3 set a decent amount this year (we saw the defense line up in a 4-3 package quite a bit in the Orange & White Game). Gooden should still make an immediate impact, yes.
But will he make the biggest impact of Tennessee’s summer enrollees? Not in my opinion, no.
Four-star tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson — the No. 1 JUCO tight end in the 2018 class per the 247Sports Composite rankings — is the more logical choice for me in this situation. I would be stunned if Wood-Anderson isn’t Tennessee’s starting tight end to begin the year, and he could end up being inside the top five or top three on the team in terms of receiving with how much Tyson Helton wants to use two tight end sets this season.
I do expect Gooden to make an impact in his first year at Tennessee. But I think the Vols have a number of players coming in this summer who could make impacts too. Gooden, Wood-Anderson, Jahmir Johnson, and Kenneth George Jr. are the JUCO players who have joined Tennessee this summer. Linebacker J.J. Peterson isn’t on campus yet, but he’s expected to be in Knoxville in July. And the Vols’ newest addition to the class, Bryce Thompson, should be able to find a role as a true freshman too.
The Vols should get plenty of contributions from their 2018 class immediately this upcoming season. Simmons expects Gooden will make the biggest impact, and that could very well be the case.