2020 Recruits the Vols are Most Likely to Land

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    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

    Tennessee has plenty of holes still left to fill in their 2020 recruiting class, but they only have a limited number of spots. The Vols already have 10 commits in their 2020 class, but how will the rest of the class fill out? Today, I take my best guess at how it might play out.

    The Vols are in a good spot with a number of prospects, and there’s a good chance that Tennessee adds three or four more commits over the next month. So who are the most likely players to jump in the boat between now and the early signing period and National Signing Day?

    These are my best guesses at each position of who is the most likely to end up committing to the Vols at some point. As always, there are several caveats to this. For one, my perception of Tennessee’s recruiting board and what UT’s coaches actually have on their recruiting board are likely quite different. I don’t pretend to have a direct link to Tennessee’s recruiting activities, so these are definitely just my best estimations based on where recruits visit, their interviews, and other information such as that.

    Secondly, these are subject to change with each passing day, week, and month. Recruiting is one of the more fluid things in collegiate athletics, and the decisions of 17 and 18-year-olds sometimes seem to come out of nowhere or defy conventional logic. One recruit may be leaning one way on one day, and then he could completely change his mind the next day after taking a visit or talking with a coach.

    Thirdly, this is all just my opinion. Other recruiting analysts, directors, writers, etc. may disagree with where I have someone on UT’s board or think that Tennessee has a better or worse chance with a specific recruit than me. Again, that all goes back to recruiting being very subjective and the fact that following the whims of teenagers is far from an exact science.

    With all that in mind, here’s my look at which prospects the Vols are most likely to land at this moment in time in the 2020 recruiting class.

    All recruiting ratings are via the 247Sports Composite rankings unless otherwise noted 

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    QB

    Haynes King – No. 79 overall, No. 3 dual-threat QB

    Tennessee already has a highly-rated quarterback committed to them in four-star Harrison Bailey. But the Vols are wanting to add a second signal caller to this class, and Haynes King is the most likely addition. In fact, Tennessee is in a very, very good spot to land King. Texas A&M and Duke are the top two competitors for UT, but as of now, the Vols appear to be the slight leaders. If Tennessee doesn’t land King’s commitment, it’ll be interesting to see what other quarterback they pursue in the 2020 class to go along with Bailey. Jimmy Holiday in Mississippi could be an option.

    RB

    Ty Jordan – No. 431 overall, No. 9 APB
    Tee Hodge – No. 614 overall, No. 45 RB

    The Vols want to add two running backs to their roster in the 2020 class, and right now the most likely additions are dynamic all-purpose back Ty Jordan from Texas and Tee Hodge from Maryville in UT’s backyard. These two are high on UT’s board and are the backs Tennessee seems to have the best chance at landing. They would also be perfect complementary pieces to each other. Other names to watch for if either of these backs don’t work out are Jabari Small in Memphis, Michael Drennen in Ohio, and Marvin Scott III in Florida.

    WR

    Rakim Jarrett – No. 19 overall, No. 3 WR
    Ze’Vian Capers – No. 112 overall, No. 25 WR
    Kris Abrams-Draine – No. 347 overall, No. 62 WR

    Though he’s committed to LSU, Rakim Jarrett is anything but solid to the Tigers. There’s still a ton of interest between him and Tennessee, and many think he ends up flipping to the Vols at some point. Maryland, a team hot on the recruiting trail and not far from Jarrett in Washington D.C., will be UT’s main competition along with LSU. Former Arkansas commit Ze’Vian Capers might be trending more towards Auburn as of now, but he’s still very much interested in UT and has a good chance of ending up in the Vols’ class. Former LSU commit Kris Abrams-Draine is also another target that seems to be trending away slightly from Tennessee, but he’s still very much in play and is more likely than other WR targets to end up in UT’s class.

    The Vols’ wide receiver board is full of names, and there aren’t many who seem like surefire additions other than potentially Rakim Jarrett. Some other names to consider and some who could be swapped out with the other two receivers mentioned here are Alabama commit Thaiu Jones-Bell, EJ Williams, Alabama commit Javon Baker, Arian Smith, Alabama commit Dazalin Worsham, Adonai Mitchell, Rico Powers, Kobe Stewart, and Virginia Tech commit Jalin Hyatt. Another name to keep an eye on is Auburn commit JJ Evans. Tennessee will likely add four receivers in this class, and they already have Jimmy Calloway in their group.

    TE

    Arik Gilbert – No. 12 overall, No. 2 ATH

    After taking two tight ends in the 2019 class, the Vols haven’t pursued quite as many in the 2020 cycle. But the one who seems most likely to commit to UT is five-star Arik Gilbert. The Vols will have to battle tooth and nail with Georgia specifically and Alabama as well to land him, but there’s speculation that Tennessee might be slightly in the lead right now. He’s teammates with Vol quarterback commit Harrison Bailey as well. Five-star Darnell Washington from Las Vegas is the only other main target for Tennessee at tight end.

    OL

    Chris Morris – No. 87 overall, No. 9 OG
    James Robinson – No. 1,318 overall, No. 75 OG
    Tairiq Stewart – N/A (JUCO)

    With the medical retirement of Melvin McBride from the 2019 class and all the other medical retirements of other linemen this offseason, Tennessee will likely look to add four or maybe even five offensive linemen in their 2020 class depending on what room they have. The Vols already have four-star Cooper Mays and  big offensive guard Javontez Spraggins committed to them, and they’re looking to load up on a ton of interior linemen. James Robinson is a big name to watch. With Xavier Hill just committing to Alabama, that could pave the way for Robinson to commit to UT. Robinson camped with the Tide this weekend, and it was believed that if he got an offer from them, things would get interesting. It doesn’t appear he will, however, and Tennessee is the leader for him if that remains the case.

    UT is definitely in the driver’s seat with JUCO lineman Tairiq Stewart, and they’re in a good spot with in-state lineman Chris Morris, though he will be a tough one to pull still. Other names to consider are Marcus Dumervil, Kentucky commit Justin Rogers (though he’s being looked at as a defensive lineman at UT), and former Kentucky commit Richie Leonard.

    DL

    Tyler Baron – No. 123 overall, No. 6 SDE
    BJ Ojulari – No. 195 overall, No. 10 WDE
    Tre’vonn Rybka – No. 355 overall, No. 33 DT
    Octavious Oxendine – No. 462 overall, No. 42 DT

    Corbet Mims – No. 481 overall, No. 22 SDE
    Deontae Craig – No. 619 overall, No. 31 SDE
    Simeon Barrow Jr. – No. 880 overall, No. 36 WDE

    Tennessee loaded up on offensive linemen in the 2019 class, and they’re expected to do the same with defensive linemen in the 2020 class. Throw in the fact that some of the players listed at defensive end could move to outside linebacker in Tennessee’s 3-4 defensive scheme, and the Vols could take five, six, or even seven players listed as defensive linemen in the 2020 cycle. Tennessee already has commitments from four-star defensive tackle Dominic Bailey and JUCO defensive end Jordan Davis, and they’ll definitely add several more to that list.

    In-state defensive end Tyler Baron seems like the most likely addition right now, and Marietta four-star pass rusher BJ Ojulari looks like a strong bet as well. In-state defensive tackle Tre’vonn Rybka has been a favorite among Vol coaches for a while, and it looks like he’s leaning towards UT. In-state lineman Corbet Mims may have a spot if JUCO defensive end Jordan Davis ends up decommitting from the Vols. Octavious Oxendine will likely end up a Vol if UT has room, and Simeon Barrow Jr. is a new name emerging in the Vols’ search for defensive linemen. Deontae Craig is definitely a possibility and is a defensive end that Tennessee’s coaches seem to really like. Other names that could become more of possibilities are Reggie Grimes, Greg Hudgins, Florida commit Morven Joseph, in-state DE Jay Hardy, Blayne Toll, Mississippi State commit Jevon Banks, Jaquelin Roy, in-state tackle Omari Thomas, Darrion Henry, Jacolbe Cowan, and former Auburn commit Damarjhe Lewis.

    LB

    Len’Neth Whitehead – No. 221 overall, No. 8 ILB
    Brandon Williams – No. 299 overall, No. 21 OLB

    This group may seem a little thin, but remember that there are a handful of defensive end prospects who are likely to end up at outside linebacker at Tennessee. With that in mind, both Len’Neth Whitehead at inside linebacker and Brandon Williams at outside linebacker seem like the two most likely additions listed as linebackers by recruiting services. Williams has been to UT a ton of times, and Whitehead is sneakily high on UT’s board. Some other names to watch in the coming months are Alabama commit Jackson Bratton, in-state teammates Martavius French and Bryson Eason, Rodney Groce Jr., Sav’ell Smalls, Phillip Webb, Kourt Williams, Noah Sewell, Jaheim Thomas, Romello Height, and Jemari Littlejohn.

    DB

    Keshawn Lawrence – No. 63 overall, No. 3 S
    Mordecai McDaniel – No. 421 overall, No. 29 ATH

    Tennessee already holds commitments from three projected defensive backs in their 2020 class, and it looks like they want to add at least two more. Versatility is key in the secondary, and that holds true for who the Vols have committed and are pursuing. The players UT has committed — JUCO cornerback Art Green, four-star Antonio Johnson, and three-star Lovie Jenkins — all appear capable of playing multiple positions, which means Tennessee can likely take more defensive backs and just figure out where all the pieces fit later. In-state safety Keshawn Lawrence seems like the most likely defensive back to join UT’s three commits, and Mordecai McDaniel, who is teammates with Rakim Jarrett, is also a major possibility. Florida cornerback Kendall Dennis, Alabama cornerback Mike Harris, Kentucky safety Vito Tisdale, former Florida commit Joel Williams, and Alabama athlete Eric Shaw are all names to keep up with as well.

    ATH

    Demarcus Beckwith – No. 389 overall, No. 25 ATH

    There are several prospects listed as athletes who the Vols are very high on, but most of them have pretty set projected positions in college. There are a few, however, who don’t, and Tennessee has a few of those players targeted as well. The most likely among those to join UT’s 2020 class is Demarcus “Dee” Beckwith. He’s been a frequent visitor to Tennessee’s campus since getting an offer from them in mid-January. Other athletes to consider are Caziah Holmes, Ja’Qurious Conley, Enzo Jennings, Kristian Story, Lideatrick Griffin, and Rishard Densmore.