Doneiko Slaughter was a late addition to Tennessee’s 2020 class, but he was someone who was on UT’s radar for months before he ultimately committed and signed with the Vols.
The 5-foot-11, 178-pound defensive back from Roswell, Georgia committed to Tennessee on December 14th while on his official visit to campus. He signed with the Vols four days later on the first day of the early signing period.
But Slaughter didn’t get an offer from Tennessee the first time he camped with UT’s coaches.
“We had him in camp this past year. We didn’t offer him at camp, but we really thought that he had some unique ability in his cover ability,” Jeremy Pruitt explained during his early signing period press conference. “His hips, his movements (are) everything we’re looking for, and we wanted to watch his senior tape.”
Slaughter camped at Tennessee on June 8th, and the Vols officially offered him on August 1st. And his senior season was everything Pruitt and his staff hoped it would be after seeing him at camp.
In his final year at Roswell High School, Slaughter totaled 51 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a blocked kick according to MaxPreps. Slaughter returned all three of his interceptions for touchdowns, and he totaled four defensive scores overall.
Needless to say, that was exactly the kind of senior year Pruitt was hoping to see out of Slaughter.
“He had a phenomenal senior year,” Pruitt said. “He had four defensive touchdowns, was all over the field, and is a guy who kind of played in the slot like a STAR. He can cover, he has range in the back end, he’s instinctive, he’s a ballhawk, and we are excited to have him.”
Slaughter was originally committed to Arizona State, choosing to pledge himself to the Sun Devils on June 28th. But the Vols’ persistence and growing interest in him as his senior year progressed caused him to think over his commitment.
On December 13th, the day he arrived in Knoxville for his official visit, he announced his decommitment from Arizona State. The next day, he committed to the Vols.
Slaughter hasn’t been evaluated by 247Sports since his commitment to Arizona State back in late June, but he was recently reassessed by Rivals.com at the beginning of December and was bumped up to a four-star on their service. He’s now the No. 27 safety in the 2020 class and has a 5.8 rating on Rivals.
Tennessee signed two other projected defensive backs along with Slaughter in their 2020 class. Four-star safety Keshawn Lawrence and three-star defender Tamarion McDonald will both start out in the secondary. But with Shawn Shamburger set to graduate after next season and the health status of Baylen Buchanan still up in the air, the Vols have an immediate need for depth at their nickel corner spot and at STAR and a potential starting role to fill after next season.
According to Pruitt, Slaughter has the ideal skills to help at those positions, and there’s a good chance the talented defensive back sees the field as a true freshman in 2020.