Vols Trending for Three Top Targets in 2020 Class

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    (Photo via @S3NSI_CAI on Twitter)

    On Friday afternoon, Tennessee added a commitment from four-star outside linebacker BJ Ojulari. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound pass rusher from Marietta, Georgia gave the Vols their 14th commitment in the 2020 class and helped add an elite pass rusher to their 2020 group.

    But the Vols may not be done on the recruiting trail this week.

    Tennessee is trending in the right direction with a handful of their top targets, and one of them is set to announce his college decision next week.

    On 247Sports, the Vols have received a number of “crystal ball predictions” for three of their top remaining targets in the 2020 class. Three-star safety Mordecai McDaniel has received the most of them, and he’s set to announce his commitment on Wednesday, August 21st.

    McDaniel is rated as the No. 385 overall prospect and No. 32 safety in the 2020 class per 247Sports. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound safety from Washington D.C. is expected to be choosing between the Vols, Penn State, and Florida when he makes his decision public on Wednesday, but the Vols are the clear favorite right now.

    In a span of 24 hours, Tennessee picked up six crystal ball predictions for McDaniel, including ones from Ryan Callahan and Grant Ramey of UT’s 247Sports site. Brian Dohn, the lead expert for McDaniel on 247Sports, put in a crystal ball in favor of the Vols, as did Steve Wiltfong, the Director of Football Recruiting for 247Sports.

    Both Dohn and Wiltfong have been correct on over 90 percent of their crystal ball predictions in the 2020 cycle thus far.

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    If the Vols do get McDaniel’s commitment on Wednesday, it’s not only a big plus for Tennessee’s 2020 class on its own, but the implications are far-reaching. McDaniel is teammates with five-star LSU wide receiver commit Rakim Jarrett at St. John’s College High School. Jarrett is the Vols’ top target at wide receiver in the 2020 class, and they’re working hard to flip him from the Tigers. Getting McDaniel would likely only help UT’s cause there.

    McDaniel has taken official visits to Notre Dame (April 5th), Florida (April 12th), Tennessee (June 7th), and Penn State (June 21st). He’s a track athlete who plays on both sides of the ball in football.

    But McDaniel isn’t the only 2020 recruit trending Tennessee’s way.

    The aforementioned Steve Wiltfong also put in a crystal ball prediction in favor of the Vols for four-star athlete Len’Neth Whitehead out of Georgia. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound athlete out of Athens was a standout at Nike’s The Opening Finals over the summer and brings unique versatility to the field.

    Whitehead plays both running back and linebacker, though he worked out exclusively as a linebacker at The Opening Finals in July. He can play either in college, but it looks like linebacker might be where he gets his first shot.

    At The Opening Finals, Whitehead was timed running a 4.7-second 40-yard dash and had a 4.28-second shuttle time. He also showed off a nearly 39-inch vertical leap. He moved up to No. 86 overall on 247Sports and is the No. 7 inside linebacker and No. 8 player in the state of Georgia in the 2020 class, too.

    While Whitehead isn’t set to make an announcement soon, the Vols are in a good position for him right now, and he’s set to take an official visit to Knoxville on August 31st for Tennessee’s first game of the 2019 season. He took an unofficial visit to UT’s campus back in March for a Junior Day event as well.

    Tennessee gave Whitehead his first SEC offer, and he listed the Vols as one of his top teams back in July. The other teams on that list were Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Texas, and Wisconsin.

    The Vols also have a lot of momentum for one of their top in-state targets in the 2020 class.

    Clint Brewster, a recruiting insider for 247Sports, logged a crystal ball prediction for Tennessee for four-star defensive end Tyler Baron. The 6-foot-5, 252-pound lineman at Knoxville Catholic now has seven crystal ball predictions, and all seven are to the Vols.

    Baron transferred to Knoxville Catholic after his junior year of high school after playing for Ensworth in the mid-state area. He was teammates with current Vol commit and four-star safety Keshawn Lawrence, and now he’s teammates with four-star center and Vol commit Cooper Mays.

    The elite in-state prospect has taken at least six visits to Tennessee’s campus in 2019 alone. The only other places he’s visited this year have been Virginia Tech, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. His trip to see the Sooners was an official visit.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Baron is the No. 105 overall prospect in the 2020 class, and he’s the No. 3 strong-side defensive end and fourth-best player in the state of Tennessee. Ohio State is seen as the biggest competition for the Vols for Baron’s commitment. Baron also included Oklahoma, Oregon, and Kentucky in his list of five finalists recently.

    Tennessee has 14 commitments in their 2020 class as of right now, but there’s a strong chance McDaniel gives them 15 commits in less than a week’s time. Whitehead and Baron won’t be making announcements till a little later, but the Vols are firmly in the mix for both highly-rated prospects as well.