One of the best athletes in the 2019 recruiting cycle has the Vols as one of his finalists and is planning to make his college decision “soon” according to a national recruiting analyst.
Rusty Mansell, a recruiting analyst for 247Sports and part of the CBS Sports Network, recently caught up with four-star athlete Zion Puckett. And according to Mansell, Puckett is down to his final five schools and has a decision looming. Those five schools are Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
— Rusty Mansell (@Mansell247) July 26, 2018
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Puckett is the No. 149 overall player and 12th-ranked athlete in the 2019 class. Along with his top five, he holds offers from Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, LSU, and many others.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete from Griffin, Georgia actually got his offer from Tennessee from the Vols’ previous coaching staff. They offered him back in April of 2017, and UT was one of his first offers at the time. Since then, though, other teams have gained momentum with him. Auburn appears to be the team to beat, as he’s already taken an unofficial visit there and plans to use an official visit to see them in October. He’s also unofficially visited Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, and South Carolina.
Puckett is a very versatile player who has done a little bit of everything for Spalding High School. He’s primarily served as a safety and receiver for them, but he’s played a few other positions on offense and special teams and is just a dynamic weapon in general. When he tackles you as a safety, you’ll feel it. He hits hard but also wraps up well and doesn’t usually sacrifice that hard-hitting for form. He’s speedy on both sides of the ball and uses it very effectively on offense. He’s good at stopping the run, but it remains to be seen how good he actually is defending against the pass.
In seven games as a junior, Puckett caught 36 passes for 660 yards and five touchdowns while totaling 40 tackles, a tackle for loss, and an interception on defense according to MaxPreps. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Knowing UT’s coaches, they’re probably looking at Puckett more as a defender rather than a receiver. But he’s good at both, and he would be able to fit in the Vols’ class regardless of which position he ultimately projects at.
Beating out Auburn, Alabama, or Ohio State for Puckett won’t be easy, but the Vols would stand a better chance if they can get him to come visit campus this season. Time will tell how “soon” Puckett’s announcement is, but the later it is the better for Tennessee.