Tennessee is hosting a number of recruits tonight as the football team takes on UAB for Homecoming. Among the list of visitors is one of the most high profile prospects in the 2020 cycle.
According to both Volquest and 247Sports, five-star athlete/tight end Darnell Washington will be in Knoxville tonight on his first visit to UT’s campus since the spring. The last time the Las Vegas five-star visited Tennessee was for the Orange & White Game in April.
Washington’s trip to Knoxville on Saturday night will be an unofficial visit, meaning Washington is flying out all the way from Las Vegas to Knoxville on his own dime. It also means he gets to save one of his five official visit slots, and as of right now, the Vols are slated to get that fifth and final official visit from Washington in December shortly before he makes his commitment announcement at the All-American Game.
Per the 247Sports Composite rankings, Washington — who plays for Desert Pines in Las Vegas, Nevada — is the No. 1 athlete in the 2020 class and is the No. 11 overall prospect in the cycle. Along with Tennessee, Washington holds scholarship offers from Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Florida, and many others.
So far, Washington has taken an official visit to Georgia and Florida, and he has an official visit to Alabama scheduled next weekend.
Tennessee has a slight edge over every other program recruiting Washington at the moment, and that’s thanks to recruiting ace Brian Niedermeyer.
“Out of all the coaches recruiting me, I have the best relationship with coach (Brian) Niedermeyer,” Washington told Greg Biggins of 247Sports back in July. “He’s a great guy and someone I know I would enjoy playing for as a position coach. I’ve been there 2-3 times as well and just like with Georgia, I love the campus and the passion for football everyone has out there.”
Washington has a lot of position versatility, playing tight end, wide receiver, defensive end, and specialist for Desert Pines. But he’s viewed as a tight end in college, and that’s where the majority of schools are recruiting him.
During testing Nike’s The Opening Finals, Washington ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash, and he ran a 4.46-second shuttle at a regional camp for The Opening. He recorded a 30-inch vertical leap there as well.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound athlete is a violent defender from his defensive end spot, and he takes that same physicality and applies it to his blocking on offense. Washington lines up both out wide as a wide receiver and in the more traditional tight end spot. He has great speed, especially for his size, and he possesses elite athleticism. Washington has superb awareness and uses his physical tools effectively. He has very good hands and is nearly impossible to cover at the high school level. Get him in space, and he’s pretty unstoppable.
Season stats are hard to come by for Washington, but he at least has four receiving touchdowns on the year for Desert Pines per the Las Vegas Sun.
Back in July, Washington detailed some of the biggest factors that will go into his decision, and he made it clear that playing in the SEC is a priority for him.
“The biggest factors for me in my decision will be the scheme fit, how well I fit in the offense, the coaching staff and how comfortable I am on campus and how well I fit in,” Washington told Biggins. “I like the SEC a lot. It’s the best conference in the country, and if you can succeed there, you can succeed anywhere, so that’s why so many of my schools are from the SEC.”
Along with Washington, the Vols are expected to host several other prospects in the 2020 class such as three-star offensive lineman and former Penn State commit RJ Adams, three-star offensive guard Kyree Miller, four-star linebacker/running back Desmond Tisdol, four-star athlete Dee Beckwith, three-star pass rusher Jimari Butler, and three-star defensive end and Michigan State commit Simeon Barrow.