One of the biggest topics of discussion this offseason among Vol fans has been how Tennessee’s new coaching staff has handled in-state recruiting. Right now, the Vols only have one player committed in the state’s top eight players according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. That’s caused many Vol fans to wonder if this staff views in-state recruiting as highly as other previous UT coaching staffs have, and I even wrote about why Vol fans shouldn’t worry about in-state recruiting with this staff and talked about the benefits and drawbacks of focusing on in-state prospects in a recent podcast.
Jeremy Pruitt was asked about Tennessee’s in-state recruiting and the fact that other teams have been pillaging the state’s top talent at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. And Pruitt went into his recruiting philosophy a bit with his answer.
“The first thing is, you’ve gotta be organized in the recruiting process,” Pruitt answered. “You gotta understand what you’re looking for at each position. You’ve gotta have critical factors that are important to you. It’s important because at some positions there’s a size or speed criteria. Then you just talk about, to me probably the most important thing, is what kind of character do they have, what kind of effect do they have on their teammates, how do they handle adversity?”
“I think it’s definitely important to recruit our state, but I think when you look at the power of the T, it’s a national brand. And you have an opportunity to go anywhere in the country and everybody knows what Tennessee’s all about. But whether it’s in our state or somebody else’s state, I think it’s important we get the right players that fit us.”
Pruitt and his staff have taken Tennessee back to recruiting at more of a regional and national level since they took over seven months ago. Right now, Tennessee’s 14 commitments in their 2019 recruiting class come from seven different states. Their first signing class, the 2018 class, had similar diversity with their 23 signees coming from 10 different states.
Last recruiting cycle, the Vols signed three of the top seven players in the state of Tennessee and added the No. 11 and No. 13 players in the state in Jerome Carvin and Jeremy Banks according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. They also added in-state players in Jacob Warren and Tanner Antonutti.
This year, however, the Vols only have one player in the top 10 in the state committed to them, and that’s offensive lineman Jackson Lampley. Nashville defensive tackle Elijah Simmons just committed to the Vols earlier this week, and offensive lineman commit Chris Akporoghene played in east Tennessee before moving to IMG Academy.
Although Tennessee hasn’t picked up commitments from some of the top players in the state of Tennessee, they’ve gotten pledges from some very talented players elsewhere.
The Vols currently have the No. 2 player in the talent-rich state of Georgia committed to them in five-star offensive tackle Wanya Morris, the No. 5 player in the state of North Carolina in four-star safety Anthony Harris, and the top JUCO linebacker in four-star Laika Henry.
Not only that, but the Vols are still in good spots with five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright of West Virginia, five-star athlete Quavaris Crouch of North Carolina, five-star linebacker Henry To’oto’o of California, and top JUCO cornerback Elijah Blades among others.
Pruitt and his staff are focused on finding the best fits for what they want to do at Tennessee. Whether those players are inside UT’s state borders or in another state matters little as long as they can contribute at a high level with the Vols.