Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and recruiting contributor Charley Collier contributed to this article.
Last weekend, the Vols were supposed to get a visit from a four-star edge rusher in the 2019 class who is currently committed to Alabama. Those plans fell through, but now that same recruit is planning on visiting Tennessee this weekend instead.
Justin Eboigbe is a four-star defensive end who is committed to Alabama in the 2019 class. He suffered a broken nose during his high school’s game last Friday and stayed home last weekend. But according to his Twitter, he’ll be visiting Knoxville this weekend when UT hosts No. 12 Kentucky.
Tennessee this Weekend.
— Justin Eboigbe (@JustinEboigbe) November 6, 2018
Eboigbe is from Forest Park, Georgia, and he is one of the best players in the state. He is a composite four-star, and and the 247Sports Composite rankings have him as a top-150 overall player in the country. He is the 9th-best player at his position and the 12th-best player in Georgia, and still he may even be underrated due to his relative inexperience playing the defensive line. He just recently began playing the position. Forest Park also doesn’t have a great reputation of producing talent, as they haven’t had a good college player since Hines Ward. But make no mistake; Eboigbe is a great football player.
Tennessee was one of the first schools to offer Eboigbe back in January, and he already visited once in February. In April, he listed the Vols in his top five schools, but he committed to Alabama in June.
Despite his commitment, there is still belief that he could flip to another school. If he were to decommit, the Vols could be a potential landing spot, though Georgia and Florida may be more likely destinations.
The first thing that stands out about Eboigbe is his size. At 6-foot-4, 263 pounds, he is a big man. Pairing that size with his motor is what really takes him to the next level, though. He gets off the ball very quickly, and he keeps that same tempo through the echo of the whistle. His strength is on display all throughout his highlights, as he occasionally slings offensive lineman out of the way with ease. He is good both against the run and the pass, and he can close down space very well in pursuit. He isn’t afraid to get his head in there and play physical and is a pretty sure tackler. He shows great bend as a pass rusher.
Nobody is flawless though. Eboigbe is still a raw player and has some technically unsound characteristics. His pad level is consistently too high. Defensive lineman can’t expose their numbers like he does, because a good offensive lineman can easily get their hands inside and have leverage. He also tends to get too chesty sometimes defending the run. Rather than getting leverage and separating, he tries to dip the shoulder and slide by, and that will never work in the SEC. His footwork isn’t always that crisp either; sometimes he appears to step inside of himself. However, the improvement from his junior season to his senior season is very noticeable, which is a promising sign for his future development.
This will be no easy flip for Tennessee. Even if he does change his commitment, the Vols would still have to battle with several other programs. Still, getting him on campus this weekend is a step in the right direction. He could make an immediate impact for the Vols.