Five-star athlete Quavaris Crouch was one of the headliners among the group of recruits who visited Tennessee’s campus this past weekend when the Vols played No. 11 Kentucky. It marked the first time in a few months that Crouch had been to see Tennessee play, and the trip went about as well as it could’ve for UT.
According to Sam Greiner, Crouch’s former head coach at Harding High School, Crouch’s official visit was “amazing.”
Hear our full interview with Sam Greiner including his detailed thoughts on Crouch’s top three schools, more details on Crouch’s visit to UT, and more over on RTI Premium!
“He had an amazing trip,” said Greiner, who still serves as Crouch’s mentor though he’s the head coach over at Hickory Ridge now. “I actually drove down myself to be with him for this trip. Very personable trip, probably the most personable trip we’ve ever been on. Jeremy Pruitt does a phenomenal job of just being very transparent.
“It just has a different feel than a lot of other places. A lot of other places are great, but the personable feel is just very genuine. You almost feel like you’ve known Jeremy for a long time. Brian Niedermeyer (UT’s tight ends coach) does a phenomenal job. He’s the new up-and-coming superstar in the recruiting game in my opinion.”
Greiner said that the trip to Knoxville this weekend served as a reminder to Crouch, who is rated the No. 33 overall player and No. 2 athlete in the 2019 class by the 247Sports Composite rankings, about why he felt so strongly about the Vols months ago when he first visited.
“He called me and said, ‘Man, this place is different. They’re really on to something.’ It was really even before they started playing games,” Greiner said of Crouch’s last visit. “I thought Tennessee lost a little bit of the limelight when they weren’t competing for a national championship right away, right from the get-go. It takes a little bit of time. But Quavaris really wanted to go back and get that butterfly feeling again like he did when he was there originally, and it made him realize why he loves it there so much.”
One of the common beliefs surrounding Crouch’s recruitment is that he would prefer to go to a school that can win immediately rather than one that’s in a rebuilding process. Crouch’s top three schools — Clemson, Michigan, and Tennessee — are all at different points in that spectrum. Clemson has been a National Championship contender for several years now, and Michigan is making a run at a title this year.
Tennessee, however, is currently trying to recover from their worst season in program history last year. But according to Greiner, Jeremy Pruitt and his staff have accelerated the rebuild process at Tennessee, and that intrigues Crouch.
“I don’t know if he wants to wait till his third year,” Greiner said of Crouch’s thoughts on waiting to compete for championships. “I think that if he feels like Tennessee can compete in their conference and win their side of the conference by next year or the year after that, then I think that definitely holds more weight. They’re definitely making huge strides from last year to this year with the new staff, and I think it’s fast forwarded an extra year than what was anticipated. And that’s why he’s kinda excited about Tennessee.
“Quavaris has to look at, ‘Do I want to be part of something that can be good right away’ or if he’s a part of it and why it became good. That’s really something he’s gotta sit back and look at.”
Greiner seems to think that Tennessee’s 2019 class could have the same effect the Vols’ 1994 class had on the program, and he believes Crouch might see that potential too.
“This recruiting class is very similar to the Peyton Manning recruiting class with Fulmer,” Greiner stated. “If you look back at those stats, I believe they went 45-5 the next four years after that big recruiting class. They won two SEC Championships and a National Championship.
“If there’s the potential of that with all the other bonus features that come with Tennessee, then they definitely have a great shot by far.”
Greiner’s stats weren’t off the mark by too much. Tennessee went 40-9 from 1994 to 1997, the four years Peyton Manning was in the program. But from 1995 to 1998, the Vols were 45-5 and won a national title.
Greiner’s numbers were a year off, but his point still stands: That 1994 class was the foundation for the Vols’ huge success in the 1990s.
Speaking of Fulmer, Greiner said he and Crouch met with Tennessee’s Athletics Director during their visit. Greiner said that he and Crouch had never met with a school’s AD before, and that really stood out to him.
“Coach Fulmer is very involved,” Greiner said. “We’ve never talked to an Athletic Director before, and he was very personable himself. It feels very homey there.”
Crouch is listed as an athlete and has played both running back and linebacker in high school. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound athlete played primarily running back for Harding, but he’s played enough linebacker to flash his potential there. Most schools are recruiting him for either position, but Tennessee thinks Crouch might fit in better as a linebacker at UT.
“Pruitt doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He’s told Quavaris, ‘Honestly, if you were my own son, I would consider your best opportunity is probably going to be inside linebacker,'” Greiner stated. “The running back life is not as great as a linebacker’s, and (Pruitt) told him that, and he’s very honest about that.”
Crouch didn’t play much his senior season at Harding because of an injury he sustained and offseason surgery. But as a junior, Crouch ran for 3,283 yards and 33 touchdowns while also totaling 48 tackles and 14 sacks on defense.
Greiner may not coach Crouch any longer, but he says he’s never seen another athlete like him.
“He’s not five-star kid. He’s different than that,” Greiner explained. “He’s a once-in-a-generation type player, and everybody will notice that once he’s in college. His work ethic is different. His leadership qualities, the skill level of him wanting to be great and the work he does behind the scenes when nobody is looking, it’s a livelihood for him.”
Crouch plans on graduating early and enrolling early at whatever school he signs with. According to Greiner, Crouch will notify the school of his choice about his decision privately and will announce his decision publicly during the All-American Bowl on January 5th.
Clemson, Michigan, or Tennessee will be the one of the teams Crouch chooses. And Greiner believes any of those schools will be a great fit for Crouch.
“If he chose any of those three schools, he’d be well off,” Greiner said. “I’m very proud of Quavaris of really sitting back and enjoying the recruiting, because it can be very stressful. I think he’s done a great job of picking out three schools where the relationships are really, really good.”