One of the top athletes in the 2019 recruiting cycle has the Vols as one of his top teams, and he’s planning on making his college decision later this month.
Zion Puckett is a four-star athlete from Georgia, and Chad Simmons of Rivals recently caught up with the talented athlete. And according to Puckett himself, Tennessee is one of his final three schools along with Alabama and Auburn. He’s also planning on announcing his college decision on August 17th.
First stop this morning is in the books… Spent about an hour at Spalding HS, home of #Rivals250 ATH Zion Puckett @ZionPuckett . His decision is coming soon and he will choose one of three SEC schools. https://t.co/hsySzreqqX pic.twitter.com/Pjf7Mn0StS
— Chad Simmons (@ChadSimmons_) August 6, 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 final three schools, Puckett also 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 was one of the many prospects who attended Tennessee’s big recruiting cookout at the end of July. He elected to come see the Vols over either Auburn or Alabama, and Tennessee has picked up some momentum in his recruitment.
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.
The Vols may have some momentum with Puckett right now, but they’re likely still behind at least Auburn for his services. Unless something changes between now and the 17th, there’s a good chance Puckett commits to the Tigers on that day. But Tennessee’s coaches won’t stop recruiting him just because he committed to another school; expect the Vols to stay on him if he commits elsewhere later this month.