Vols Among Top Teams for In-State Target

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    (Photo via Hunter Price/The Daily Times)

    The Vols have a big need at running back in the 2020 recruiting cycle, and they’ve targeted several prospects at that position in this class. Tennessee doesn’t need to look any further than their own backyard for some help out of the backfield, though, and that in-state back has included the Vols as one of his top teams following a visit to campus this weekend.

    Tee Hodge is a bruising and talented running back who plays for Maryville High School. He took an unofficial visit to UT’s campus this weekend, and he tweeted out his list of top nine schools coming off that trip to Knoxville. Tennessee was included in his list along with Michigan, Penn State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Oregon, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, and Purdue.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Hodge is the No. 606 overall prospect, No. 45 running back, and No. 21 player in the state of Tennessee. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound bruiser holds nearly two dozen scholarship offers and should get plenty of attention during his senior year.

    As a junior, Hodge ended up suffering an injury in the postseason for Maryville, otherwise his stock might be even higher. Even coming off that injury, he’s picked up five offers in 2019 alone, including four of the teams in his top nine (Penn State, Ole Miss, Oregon, and Arkansas).

    Hodge attended a Junior Day event on UT’s campus back in January, and he also visited Alabama and Florida State for Junior Day festivities. He made an unofficial visit to Purdue back in late March, and his trip to Tennessee’s campus this past weekend marked his seventh trip to Knoxville in the last year.

    On the field, Hodge has a very unique blend of skills. He’s a force out of the backfield and easily trucks defenders if they try to tackle him one-on-one. Hodge is more than just a bulldozing back, though; he has some pretty incredible speed for his size, and his athleticism is very rare. He has solid vision and really good balance as well. He keeps his legs churning after contact, and he looks like a pain to try and bring down. His highlight film even shows off his ability as a lead blocker, something you don’t see on most running back’s highlight films. But Hodge is effective as a blocker, further adding another dimension to his game.

    Before an injury caused him to miss part of the playoffs for Maryville, Hodge totaled 805 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 131 carries. He also added 17 receptions for 175 yards and a score, giving him nearly 1,000 total yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns.

    There’s a thought that Hodge could even play linebacker in college, but most schools seem to be pursuing him as a running back.

    Our Take:

    Hodge is a definite take for Tennessee, and he should garner even more attention this fall as long as he bounces back from his injury well. The only thing to watch out for with Hodge is if some other teams come calling. Florida State and Alabama will be two teams to keep an eye on. If either of those teams offer Hodge, then they could become instant players with him.

    Barring that, the Vols seem to be in a good position with Hodge right now.