National Recruiting Analyst Predicts 4-Star WR to Vols

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    Tennessee doesn’t have a ton of room left in their 2020 class, but the Vols are targeting several high profile recruits to try and fill the vacancies they do have in the class. One of their top remaining targets recently visited UT’s campus, and one of the leading voices in college football recruiting thinks he ends up signing with the Vols.

    Steve Wiltfong, the Director of Recruiting for 247Sports, put together his predictions for some of the top unsigned recruits remaining in the 2020 class before National Signing Day in a week and a half. Included in his list of 10 prospects was four-star wide receiver and Florida State commit Malachi Wideman, who took an official visit to Knoxville on the weekend of January 17th.

    Wideman has been committed to Florida State since May 5th of last year, but it’s widely believed he wont’ be sticking with his commitment to the Seminoles when it comes time to sign. Wiltfong believes the Vols will be the ones who win out for the talented and athletic wideout.

    “I lean towards Tennessee for Top247 receiver Malachi Wideman with Oregon the other challenger for the long-time Florida State commit who likely ends up elsewhere when all said and done,” Wiltfong writes. “The Vols hosted Wideman two weekends ago and the Ducks did this past weekend, and while I think it may be close between the two, I believe distance will win out — Wideman is out of Sarasota, Fla., — and Pruitt and his staff will land the blue-chip pass catcher.”

    The 6-foot-4, 190-pound receiver who plays for Venice High School in Sarasota, Florida took an official visit to Washington State on December 6th, officially visited Florida State on December 13th, then took an official visit to UT once the dead period lifted. He officially visited Oregon this past weekend, and he has an official visit planned for Ole Miss this upcoming weekend, the final weekend before National Signing Day.

    Wideman is rated as the No. 120 overall prospect and No. 22 wide receiver in the 2020 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He’s likely due for a big ratings jump in the next 247Sports update, as Wideman rose to the No. 56 overall prospect on in their recent update.

    But the talented wide receiver isn’t just a star on the football field; Wideman is also a four-star prospect in basketball.

    Wideman is rated as the No. 124 overall player and No. 23 shooting guard in the 2020 class per 247Sports. He’s played with the E1T1 United team in the Nike circuit as well as playing for Venice.

    On the football field, Wideman caught 65 passes for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, returning a punt for a touchdown as well according to MaxPreps. Wideman was named to the inaugural Sports Illustrated All-American Team for high school football for this past season. In the 2019 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and the Peach Invitational, Wideman averaged 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.6 steals a game in 19.4 minutes a game in 13 games according to He shot 48 percent overall and 38.7 percent from three. Wideman also won the City of Palms Classic dunk contest back in December.

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    Wideman wasn’t the only elite recruit Wiltfong offered up an opinion on who Tennessee is pursuing, though.

    The Vols hosted five-star running back Zachary Evans on an official visit this weekend, and the one-time Georgia Bulldog seems to be trending slightly more towards Tennessee now after his visit.

    But Evans’ recruitment has been anything but straightforward, and since he signed his National Letter of Intent with Georgia and then was released from it, he can’t even sign an NLI on National Signing Day. So his recruitment will likely go all the way through till May or June.

    Because of that and because of the seeming ever-changing nature of Evans’ recruitment, Wiltfong has Evans’ forecast as “cloudy,” though he says right now he’s still leaning towards Georgia.

    “Just when I think I have the pulse of the recruitment, another development happens to remind me it’s unpredictable,” Wiltfong said of Evans. “On Sunday night I thought Evans would end up at Tennessee where he just wrapped up his official visit or back to Georgia where some sources said Evans was still leaning despite being released from his letter-of-intent earlier this month. Maybe that intel is fine and good but it seems Evans could also take his last official visit of the process this coming weekend to Southern Cal.”

    In our latest RTI & VR2 Recruiting Podcast, we reported that it looks like, as of now, that Evans won’t be making a trip out to see USC this upcoming weekend. There’s still a chance Evans goes and visits UGA, but right now Evans’ plans are up in the air.

    If Evans visits Georgia, Wiltfong thinks the five-star ends up a Bulldog when it’s all said and done.

    “I can’t make a pick,” Wiltfong explained. “My 247Sports Crystal Ball remains foggy for the Houston (Texas) North Shore back who can’t even sign on NSD because you’re only allowed one LOI, which means this saga could continue until Evans just walks on the campus of the school of his choosing in the summer. If he shows up in Athens this weekend instead of USC, that will be my 247Sports Crystal Ball forecast.”

    Tennessee currently has 21 signees in their 2020 class. Wideman and Evans are two of the Vols’ top targets between now and National Signing Day, and four-star athlete Dee Beckwith is the other. Beckwith took an official visit to UT’s campus two weekends ago and just visited Florida this past weekend.

    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.