Every time Tennessee gets a commitment in either football or men’s basketball, we will write up an impact report looking at what that recruit does well, what he needs to improve in his game, and what his projected impact with the Vols could be over the next few years.
Latest Commit: Tee Hodge, RB
Height/Weight: 6-foot, 225 pounds
School: Maryville (Tennessee)
Home Town: Maryville, TN
247Sports Composite: No. 658 overall, No. 48 RB
247Sports: No. 730 overall, No. 53 RB
Rivals: 5.7 rating, No. 28 RB
Notable Offers: Michigan, Penn State, Arkansas, Oregon
What we like:
If you want a physical, bruising back, Tee Hodge is your guy. He has great power and is built like a battering ram in a smaller package than, say, a Derrick Henry or a Jalen Hurd, but he runs similarly to those two. I’m not saying Hodge will be just like those two as running backs, but I see some similarities in his game. Hodge blends power with a surprising amount of speed, and he’s much more slippery than you would think. He can break tackles and also evade defenders, though he’s much more apt to just make defenders look silly if they come after him with a weak tackling effort. He does’t have the shiftiness of smaller scat backs, but he doesn’t always need that if he can just lower his shoulder and bounce off linebackers. It usually takes more than one defender to take him down if he’s not near a sideline. Hodge also has film of himself as a lead blocker on his highlights. When is the last time you saw a running back put that on his highlight film? That tells you all you need to know right there about his mentality and playing style. Hodge is bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than most backs in the 2020 class.
Places to improve:
While quicker than you might imagine, Hodge lacks top-end speed and doesn’t really break away from defenders. Not every running back has to be that type of runner, of course, but it will hold Hodge back from out-pacing a lot of SEC defenders. All of his film is also before he sustained an injury in Maryville’s playoff run this past season. Hodge suffered a broken right fibula in November, but he’s supposedly fully recovered from it. I assume he’s worked out in front of UT’s coaches recently, so I trust they like what they saw from him. I’ll be interested to see what he does in his senior year and how he bounces back from that unfortunate setback. He has a ton of potential and had climbed to a borderline four-star prospect before that.
I think Tennessee got an absolute steal in getting Hodge’s commitment. If teams like Michigan, Penn State, and Arkansas are offering a running back, then that should tell you all you need to know about his ability. Assuming Hodge has no other injury issues in his senior season, I think he’s due for a big year. He’s used as a lead runner, a pass catcher, and a lead blocker for Maryville. He’s also prominent on special teams. He does just about everything for the Rebels, and if he can get his old speed back after his injury, look out. I think he comes in and plays a little as a freshman, but his impact will really be felt in his second and third year at UT.