In-State RB Target Commits to Vols

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    (Photo via Jolanda Jansma/BlountPressRow.com)

    Tennessee has hit a hot streak when it comes to in-state recruiting.

    Last Friday, four-star offensive lineman Cooper Mays from Knoxville Catholic announced his commitment to the Vols, then four-star safety Keshawn Lawrence from Ensworth in Nashville pledged himself to UT in the 2020 class on Monday. This Friday, another east Tennessee prospect pulled the trigger for the Vols.

    Running Back Tee Hodge, who plays for Maryville High School just minutes away from UT’s campus, announced his commitment to the Vols on Friday. A week and a half ago, Hodge tweeted out his list of top nine schools, and he chose Tennessee over those other eight schools, which included Michigan, Penn State, Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Purdue, and Kentucky.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Hodge, who is the nephew of former local standout and Kentucky Wildcat Randall Cobb, is the No. 611 overall prospect, No. 45 running back, and No. 21 player in the state of Tennessee in the 2020 class. The 6-foot, 230-pound back will be a name to watch in his senior season this fall as he looks to bounce back from an injury that cost him the last bit of his junior campaign.

    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).

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    Hodge has been a frequent visitor to Tennessee’s campus over the last year. His unofficial visit to campus back on June 15th marked his seventh trip to Knoxville in the last year. He’s made visits to Alabama, Florida State, and Purdue in 2019 as well, but the Vols ultimately won out.

    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 he’ll most likely see the field as a running back.

    With Hodge’s commitment, Tennessee now has 12 public commitments in their 2020 class. Hodge gives the Vols four total in-state commits in the 2020 cycle. He joins four-star offensive lineman Cooper Mays, four-star safety Keshawn Lawrence, and long snapper Will Albright as in-state players to pledge themselves to UT.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.