Early Signing Period Schedule for Vol Targets

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    Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

    Tennessee is expected to have most of their 2019 commits sign with them during the early signing period this week, but they’ll also be looking to add a few uncommitted names to their list of signatures in this class during the early signing process.

    The Vols are targeting a few 2019 prospects who are making their college decisions known during the early signing period that runs from Wednesday, December 19th through Friday, December 21st. Tennessee isn’t in on as many players who are signing early as they are prospects who will be signing on National Signing Day in February, but there are still a few recruits to keep an eye on during the first signing period this week.

    Here is a schedule for Tennessee’s main targets who are expected to sign this week.

    (All times are Eastern unless noted otherwise, and more players will be added if more information is made available on possible UT targets)

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    Jaylen Ellis, WR – Wednesday, 8:00-9:00 AM

    In a last minute change of plans, speedy wide receiver Jaylen Eliis will be signing with a school on Wednesday morning. He was originally planning on making his announcement known on January 5th at the All-American Bowl Game along with several other highly-rated players, but he tweeted out late Tuesday night that he will be signing during the early signing period. This could be great news for the Vols, as the Baylor commit used his last official visit to come see Knoxville this past weekend and seemed to enjoy his trip. Ellis would bring an instant speed boost to UT’s wide receiving corps, as he’s been timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds and has run the 100-meter dash in under 10.50 seconds. Ellis is a four-star on 247Sports but is ranked as the No. 456 overall player and No. 60 wide receiver in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

    Noah Cain, RB – Wednesday, 11 AM

    Tennessee got Cain’s final official visit of his recruitment this past weekend, and they seemed to have made a big impact on the four-star running back who plays for IMG Academy. Texas was once considered the favorite for Cain, but now Penn State seems to be the one in the lead for his signature. Where Cain ultimately lands likely depends on where some other running backs go during the early signing period. Georgia, Texas, and Penn State will all be worth watching prior to his morning announcement. Cain is rated as the No. 104 overall player and No. 7 running back in the 2019 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

    Justin Eboigbe, DE – Wednesday, 11:30 AM

    The elite defensive end tweeted out late Tuesday night that he will have four finalists for his decision on Wednesday, though he’s been committed to Alabama since June. It’s still expected that Eboige will sign with the Tide, but he included Tennessee, Miami, and Florida as his other top team as he looks to make his final decision. The Vols hosted Eboigbe on an unofficial visit for their game against Kentucky earlier this season, but he never took an official visit to Knoxville. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Eboigbe is the No. 75 overall player and No. 5 strong-side defensive end in this class.

    Joseph Anderson, DE – Wednesday, 1:30 PM

    A product in the mid-state, Tennessee has long been involved with Murfreesboro’s Joseph Anderson. The 6-foot-4, 268-pound defensive end has been committed to South Carolina since the beginning of June, but UT’s coaches have remained in contact with him and have attempted to get him to flip. He’s not visited Tennessee publicly lately, though a couple of UT’s coaches did give him an in-home visit on December 7th. It’s still expected he’ll sign with the Gamecocks on Wednesday, but he’s one to keep an eye on for the Vols. Anderson is the No. 147 overall player and No. 11 strong-side defensive end in the 2019 class per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

    Nick Figueroa, JUCO DE – Wednesday, 2:00 PM Eastern

    Tennessee positioned themselves well with one of the top junior college defensive linemen in the 2019 class this weekend. Figueroa took his last official visit of his recruitment to Knoxville this weekend, and his visit blew him away. He said in interviews after his visit that he thought he had his mind made up before the trip, but then his time at Tennessee has him rethinking things. Figueroa played for Riverside in the JUCO ranks this past year and enjoyed a solid season, and he’s gotten interest from USC, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Cal, and others. USC appears to be the team to beat for him, but the Vols did all they could this weekend to try and supplant the Trojans for Figueroa’s signature. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Figueroa is the No. 20 overall JUCO player and the No. 1 JUCO strong-side defensive end.

    Jamie Pettway, LB – Wednesday, 4:30 PM

    Pettway’s recruitment has been an interesting one to track. He’s received interest from some big time schools, but his top four includes Tennessee, Missouri, Louisville, and Georgia Tech. Pettway has always seemed to really like the Vols, but UT may not have the room to take him, especially if they can land some linebackers who appear to be higher up on their board. Tennessee did get the last say with him, though, as co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer gave him an in-home visit on December 13th. Right now, a lot of recruiting analysts think Pettway ends up at Missouri, though he’s kept it pretty close to the vest. Pettway is the No. 472 overall player and No. 26 inside linebacker in the 2019 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He’s a four-star and top 270-overall player according to the regular 247Sports rankings.

    JaVonta Payton, JUCO WR – TBD

    Just like with Quavaris Crouch, JaVonta Payton snuck in to Knoxville over the weekend on a visit to see Tennessee. Payton is currently committed to Mississippi State, but he apparently kept his visit quiet from those in Starkville. That leads many to believe the Vols have a very legit shot of flipping the talented junior college receiver. Payton played for Hillsboro High School in Tennessee before enrolling in junior college, and he was very interested in the Vols coming out of high school. He’s kept that interest while in the JUCO ranks, and Tennessee is very much in play for him whenever he announces his college decision. Payton is ranked as the No. 29 JUCO player and No. 3 JUCO wide receiver in the 2019 class by the 247Sports Composite rankings. UPDATE: It now appears Payton may not be signing during the early signing period after all, but it’s still expected he will be deciding between Mississippi State and Tennessee whether he signs this week or in February.

    Eric Gray, RB – Thursday, 1:00 PM

    The Vols are in the best spot of anyone on this list with four-star, in-state running back Eric Gray. Tennessee has a great shot of adding Gray to their 2019 class when he announces at noon Central time at his school on Thursday. Gray is a three-time Mr. Football award winner and holds several state records. He ran for well over 8,000 yards in his four years at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis and totaled over 120 rushing touchdowns in his career. Gray was committed to Michigan for a while, but he announced his decommitment from the Wolverines on December 1st, and Tennessee has been seen as the front-runner for him since. Gray is rated as the No. 171 overall player and No. 4 all-purpose back in the 2019 class per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

    Now here’s a look at what time all of Tennessee’s current commits are planning on signing their papers with the Vols today:

    Jackson Lowe, TE — 7:45 AM

    Brian Maurer, QB — 8:30 AM

    Jaylen McCollough, S — 8:45 AM

    Melvin McBride, OL — 9 AM

    Warren Burrell, CB — 9 AM

    Ramel Keyton, WR — 10 AM

    Chris Akporoghene, OT — 10 AM

    Sean Brown, TE — 1 PM

    Jackson Lampley. OL — 1 PM

    Wayna Morris, OT — 2:30 PM

    Savion Williams, JUCO DT — 3 PM

    Darel Middleton, JUCO DT — 3 PM

    Tyus Fields, CB — 3 PM

    Roman Harrison, DE — 3:30 PM