Impact Report: 2020 WR Malachi Wideman

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    (Photo via Adrian McPherson/The Athletic)

    Every time Tennessee gets a commitment in either football or men’s basketball, we will write up an impact report looking at what that recruit does well, what we feel can be improved, and what his projected impact with the Vols could be over the next few years.

    Latest Commit: Malachi Wideman, ATH
    Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 195 pounds
    School: Venice (Florida)
    Home Town: Venice, FL

    Football Rankings
    247Sports Composite: 
    No. 116 overall, No. 22 WR
    247Sports: No. 116 overall, No. 20 WR
    Rivals: 6.0 rating, No. 56 overall, No. 10 WR

    Basketball Rankings
    247Sports Composite: No. 163 overall, No. 32 SG
    247Sports: No. 126 overall, No. 23 SG
    Rivals: 4-Star (no rating/ranking)

    Notable Offers: Florida State, Florida, Oregon, Ole Miss

    What we like:

    In my personal experience of covering recruiting over the last few years, I’ve never seen a more gifted athlete who plays football and basketball both. Malachi Wideman has the skills to succeed in both sports, and I’m very interested to see which one he really takes off in and excels at. I think Jeremy Pruitt and his staff would like to keep him more on the football field than the basketball court, but Wideman is good enough to make an impact in both sports.

    Wideman has a great vertical leap, and he high points the ball very effectively. He’s tougher and stronger than he looks, and guarding him is a very difficult prospect for defensive backs in high school. I think it’ll be pretty difficult for college corners to guard him, too. Wideman is just built like the perfect athletic wideout. He’ll need to put on a little more weight, but not a great deal. He has good speed and quickness, and he can already run a good amount of routes. The way he moves in the air to come down with deep passes or fades in the end zone is just so fun to watch.

    In basketball, Wideman is a high-flyer who has a variety of offensive skills at his disposal. Defensively, he does a lot of what Yves Pons does in the fact that he’s an exceptional blocker and has the quickness and size to guard multiple positions. He’s long and athletic, which makes him deceptively good at rebounding, too. Just like Josiah-Jordan James (who’s 6-foot-6 but is second on UT’s roster in rebounding per game).

    Places to improve: 

    I’d like to see Wideman develop more of his route tree in college. He obviously has the natural skills for a wide receiver, and he can already run a few routes, but he won’t be able to just get by on his elite athleticism alone in college. He’ll need to work on his physicality a little more (though he’s definitely not soft, judging by his highlights), but overall I think he’s a pretty strong product as an incoming freshman.

    On the basketball court, I don’t have a ton to really critique about his game (just like in football, really). He has good handles, has a compact shooting stroke, and isn’t afraid to cut into the lane and doesn’t just settle for jump shots. Defensively he probably needs to do a little work on footwork and whatnot, but that’s true for the majority of high school basketball prospects.

    Analysis:

    Tennessee hit an absolute home run with Wideman, in my opinion. Barring injury or anything like that, I think he makes an immediate impact on the football field next season. He’ll have some tough competition with Jalin Hyatt and Jimmy Calloway in UT’s 2020 class, and the Vols also return Josh Palmer, Ramel Keyton, Cedric Tillman, and Brandon Johnson from the 2019 roster. Deangelo Gibbs will also be active this year. But I think Wideman will find a role on this team in his first year, but I think his greatest impact will be felt in 2021 and beyond.

    I’ll be curious to see what all he can do in basketball. Tennessee has signed a monster recruiting class in the 2020 cycle, and the Vols will be returning a lot of production next season, too. Carving out a role as a freshman might be difficult for him, but I really like his skill set on the hardcourt.