Putting the Vols’ 2019 Signing Class in Context

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Tennessee finished the 2019 recruiting cycle with the No. 12 recruiting class in the country. That’s not bad, but when you realize that’s only good for seventh in the SEC, it might cause all those good feelings you got from UT’s National Signing Day to falter.

    Don’t let them, though.

    No, Tennessee’s 2019 class isn’t on the level of Georgia’s or Alabama’s, but Tennessee hasn’t had anywhere close to the type of success the Bulldogs and Tide have had the last couple seasons.

    Take into consideration that the Vols are coming off a 4-8 season in 2017 — the worst single season in school history — and a 5-7 season in 2018. Tennessee has won a combined nine games the last two seasons, and they’ve won a grand total of two SEC games over the last two years.

    Not only that, but they’ve been absolutely demolished by a lot of the teams they’ve lost to.

    Ten of Tennessee’s 15 losses over the last two seasons have come by 20 or more points. That doesn’t include an 18-point loss the Vols suffered at the hands of Vanderbilt in 2017, either.

    The Vols have been flat out embarrassed over the last two seasons. Yet they were able to haul in a top-15 recruiting class in the 2019 cycle.

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    Tennessee’s 12th-ranked recruiting class in this cycle is ranked higher than Ohio State’s, Penn State’s, Notre Dame’s, Washington’s, and Stanford’s among others. Their average ranking score per recruit on 247Sports (90.49) is actually higher than Clemson’s average rating per recruit (89.76)

    In fact, that 90.49 average recruiting score is the highest average rating for a Tennessee recruiting class since the 2009 class had an average rating of 90.66. Of course, Vol fans hope this class doesn’t have the attrition that one did, but it doesn’t look like Pruitt is bolting for USC or another school any time soon.

    But wait, there’s more.

    Tennessee signed two five-stars in their 2019 class. They’re one of only 10 programs in the 2019 cycle to sign multiple five-stars, and they’re the only team in that grouping that had a losing record in 2018.

    The Vols had more five-stars than Clemson, Oregon, and Penn State. Those three programs signed one five-star apiece. Florida, Notre Dame, USC? They didn’t sign a single five-star.

    Tennessee is the only team inside the top 12 of the 2019 recruiting rankings that had a losing record last season.

    Here’s a look at how the Vols’ 2018 season compares to the other teams in the top 12 in the 247Sports rankings, for context:

    1. Alabama – 14-1, SEC Champs, National Title Runner-Ups
    2. Georgia – 11-3, SEC East title
    3. Texas – 10-4
    4. Texas A&M – 9-4
    5. LSU – 10-3
    6. Oklahoma – 12-2, Big 12 Champs, College Football Playoff appearance
    7. Oregon – 9-4
    8. Michigan – 10-3
    9. Florida – 10-3
    10. Clemson – 15-0, ACC Champs, National Champions
    11. Auburn – 8-5
    12. Tennessee – 5-7

    The Vols finished ahead of a College Football Playoff participant (Notre Dame) and two conference champions (Ohio State, Washington) in the 2019 recruiting cycle.

    Of Tennessee’s official 21 signees in their 2019 class right now (excluding Anthony Harris and Kenney Solomon, who are committed but not signed), 10 of them are rated as four-stars and two of them are five-stars. That means 12 of Tennessee’s official 21 signees (57.1 percent) are rated as four-stars or better.

    Of the 19 signees who were high school players in the 2019 cycle, 13 of them ranked inside the top-500 overall prospects in the 2019 cycle. Both of Tennessee’s junior college signees were in the top five of their position in the JUCO ranks (Savion Williams and Darel Middleton).

    All of this, of course, doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that Tennessee has added two quality transfers to their roster as well. Michigan defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon, who was a five-star coming out of high school, and Georgia defensive back Deangelo Gibbs, who was a high four-star coming out of high school, will be on Tennessee’s roster in 2019. It remains to be seen if either will be eligible for the season, but they’re also high quality additions to UT’s team.

    Tennessee’s 2019 class is littered with potential instant impact players, and the Vols should feel the ramifications of this class immediately this upcoming season. And when you look at this class in context and not just in a vacuum, it’s even more impressive what this staff was able to do.