Jeremy Pruitt has said multiple times that he doesn’t care about what recruiting rankings say about a player; he trusts what his eyes tell him and what his coaching staff sees in a recruit to evaluate whether or not they can play for him.
As Tennessee’s head coach, Pruitt has signed one five-star and 17 four-stars in the 2018 and 2019 classes so far according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. But he’s also signed nine non-special teams players who ranked outside the top-800 recruits in their respective classes.
Like Pruitt has said, he doesn’t need a recruiting service to tell him if a player is good. He trusts himself and his coaches. And they might’ve found another “diamond in the rough” that isn’t rated highly by recruiting services in this 2019 cycle.
Earlier this month, Pruitt gave a scholarship offer to Kenney Solomon, a cornerback who plays for Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At the time of the offer, Solomon was just a two-star recruit. He’s since been bumped up to a three-star, but he’s still only the No. 1,919 overall prospect in the 2019 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
But Pruitt wants Solomon, as long as UT has the space to add him.
I spoke with Solomon not long after his visit to Tennessee and his offer from the Vols, and he came away very impressed with his trip westward to Knoxville.
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“I was in Coach Pruitt’s office, and he offered me there,” Solomon said. “I was just happy. He talked to my family and told me I had an offer to come to school.”
Solomon took a visit to Tennessee back in November when the Vols played Kentucky, but he didn’t have an offer from UT at that time. In fact, before the Vols offered him, Solomon’s most prestigious offer was from UCF. He also had offers from Georgia State, Toledo, UMass, and Coastal Carolina among others.
Since Tennessee offered Solomon, he’s added offers from Louisville, Colorado, Rutgers, and Appalachian State.
As far as his visit to UT, Solomon said it went very well, and Tennessee treated him like a priority.
“It was very nice. The stadium is humongous,” Solomon stated. “I met up with some of the players, and that was very cool as well. Campus was nice. They drove us around and showed us where everything was. We got to look in the dorm rooms and where the players hang out at.
“That unofficial (visit) felt like an official. They treated me like it was an official.”
While on his visit, Solomon not only spoke with Tennessee’s coaches, but he also got to talk with Freshman All-American cornerback Bryce Thompson. Solomon played at defensive back, wide receiver, wildcat quarterback, and returner for Socastee, but cornerback is where he’d play most at Tennessee if he joined the Vols.
“(UT’s coaches) like me at corner, and they like me at punt returner,” Solomon explained. “They know I’m a fast guy, and I’m a good guy. My grades are great. They think I can do great things at Tennessee, coming from Coach Pruitt and (Assistant Director of Player Personnel) Danny Stiff.”
Solomon’s speed is no joke, either. He’s been timed running both a 4.42-second and a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, and he ran the 100-meter in 10.6 seconds and the 200-meter in 21.08 seconds for Socastee’s track team. He qualified to go to the state championship in track, and he was the only junior in the 200 and 100 last year.
Since his visit to Tennessee, Solomon has visited both Rutgers and Louisville. He said at the time that UT was his first major visit, but Pruitt wanted him to make sure he made a few other trips to see if anything could top Tennessee.
“Tennessee was my first big visit, and it was great,” Solomon said. “I want to see if there’s any other school that can top that. Coach Pruitt told me to go explore some other schools and see how it is and if anything else was better.”
Solomon added that his family “loves Tennessee” and that he doesn’t plan to make another trip to Knoxville unless he signs with the Vols, but UT’s coaches may still come visit him at his home or at his school. Solomon plans to announce his college decision on National Signing Day on February 6th.
The 6-foot, 170-pound cornerback may have gone overlooked for a long time by recruiting services and schools, but he’s never let that affect his confidence. To him, he’s always been a great player.
“I feel like I’m a five-star,” Solomon explained. “That’s just what I feel like. I feel like I can go anywhere and be part of a team.”
Solomon actually goes to the same high school that Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow went to. Coming out of high school, Renfrow wasn’t even rated by 247Sports and was offered a walk-on role for the Tigers. He earned a scholarship in the fall of 2015, and he became one of the better “feel good” stories of college football.
In his four years with Clemson, Renfrow won two national titles and caught 186 passes for 2,133 yards and 15 touchdowns. There’s even a good chance the former walk-on will make it into the NFL.
Renfrow went overlooked out of high school, and Solomon feels he’s been treated the same way. But he believes he can be just as good as Renfrow proved to be if he’s given the chance.
“It’s the same deal with him,” Solomon said of Renfrow. “I feel like he should’ve been a five-star. He’s obviously very good at football.
“I guess a lot of schools overlook us.”