Impact Report: 2021 WR Walker Merrill

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    (Photo via Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean)

    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: Walker Merrill, WR
    Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 175 pounds
    School: Brentwood (Tennessee)
    Home Town: Brentwood, TN

    Rankings
    247Sports Composite: 
    No. 371 overall, No. 61 WR
    247Sports: No. 52 WR
    Rivals: 5.6 rating, No. 86 WR

    Notable Offers: LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M

    What we like:

    Merrill is such an interesting wide receiver prospect to me. He does a lot well and has the ability to make bigger gains than you expect. Merrill is difficult to tackle. He slips through defenders’ hands often or just simply evades them. He’s a very physical wide receiver who fights for extra yardage like his life depends on it. Merrill may not have elite-level speed, but he’s definitely not slow. He has a good initial burst and has the type of athleticism that can lead to explosive plays. Not only is he a good receiver who just keeps developing, but he’s also a weapon in the return game, too. Merrill is dangerous on special teams and uses his acceleration and tackle-breaking to make some big plays.

    Places to improve: 

    While his route tree is growing and developing, Merrill definitely needs to expand upon that part of his game in his senior year and moving into college. Right now, I’d say Merrill is a little bit more of an athlete than a wideout, but he’s learned a lot about the position already and has a high ceiling as a play-maker. His physicality will separate him from other receivers, and he just needs to keep working on the technical side of things of his game. Merrill has a lot of tools and raw potential, and his athleticism and attitude on the field give him a big boost.

    Analysis:

    I really like the potential Walker Merrill brings to Tennessee’s 2021 class. While I don’t think he’ll be an instant starter or huge impact player in his first year at UT, I think he’ll have a role early in his career and will be a yards-after-catch machine similar to what Jauan Jennings did for the Vols. Merrill is quicker than Jennings, and Jennings was a better blocker, bigger, and more physical than Merrill, but the Vols’ newest commit has some of that same attitude and physical nature Jennings did. Merrill is a great complement to some of the wideouts the Vols have brought in recently, and he has the ability to be a starter and solid contributor.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    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.