Insider Mailing: Still in Quarantine Edition

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    Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

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    Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.

    “Will the COVID-19 virus further delay a response to Cade Mays’ eligibility status? Will we have to wait as long as we did with Aubrey Solomon to hear something about him?” – @TennesseeFan3

    Nathanael: That’s a good question. I would assume the COVID-19 outbreak would delay it, yes. I’ve not seen much news recently about players having their waivers denied or accepted, so I assume that’s more or less on hold for right now as the NCAA tends to other things. As for when we should expect to hear something: I have no clue at all on that unfortunately.

    Ben: Possibly, but I don’t believe so. The NCAA definitely has more important issues on its hands. A decision on Cade Mays’ eligibility shouldn’t have to take the backseat because of it, however. Mays still deserves an answer, and I believe he’ll receive one. Plus, Florida State running back Jashaun Corbin was recently granted immediately eligibility after transferring from Texas A&M. The NCAA has plenty of time to come up with an answer.

    “How will less training due to the coronavirus affect the Vols? Do you think the missed training will hurt them more or less than other SEC football teams?” – Jeffrey

    Nathanael: I don’t think it will hurt them more than other teams, but it definitely still hurts. If the Vols were depending on a ton of younger players or newcomers in general to contribute this upcoming season, then I’d say they would be disproportionately affected, but UT is fairly experienced in most areas, especially the lines of scrimmage. Missing the spring will definitely hurt, but it won’t hurt the Vols more than other teams because of their veteran presence in most positions. If this were last year, I’d say yes.

    Ben: I think it’ll affect the Vols in the injury department, but I believe every team, at every level, in every sport, will deal with a rash of injuries because of the limited amount of practice and preparation. Plus, especially in college, these athletes aren’t receiving the strength and conditioning they’re accustomed to, as well as recovery tactics. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that all teams in the SEC and country are dealing with the same issues.

    “Let’s say college football was cancelled this year. Do you think the NCAA will allow the seniors to come back and play because that would mess up with the 85 scholarship limit rule.” – Bradley

    Nathanael: Man, that’s rough. Talking about football compared to the spring sports such as baseball and softball is a completely different ball game. If the football season is entirely canceled and not just delayed, that’s a ton of money lost for the NCAA, SEC, etc. The NCAA already lost a huge chunk of money with the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, and not having a football season (even in late winter or early spring) would decimate profits. I don’t know that teams could afford to have players come back unless there were drastic pay cuts across the board or some kind of stimulus package for collegiate athletics like we’re seeing with the government for citizens right now.

    Ben: Yes I do. I believe the NCAA would give everyone their year back just like they did with spring athletes. Though technically it is a little different. Spring athletes actually played games, whereas fall athletes would never have played a game. So, it would be like giving them a year off. At the end of the day, I expect Jarrett Guarantano or whatever senior to still be a senior in 2021 if there is no college football season in 2020.

    “Pruitt and the staff seem to have recruiting momentum right now despite what’s going on in the world. Is there a player the Vols could land that would be considered a surprise or a huge get?” – @The_Klassens

    Nathanael: I don’t think so, at least not at the moment. Unless UT could somehow get former Florida commit Kamar Wilcoxson — who just decommitted from the Gators last week — to commit, I don’t see any major surprises happening any time soon. In-state target Junior Colson could be someone to keep an eye on, but I wouldn’t call him a surprise. He’d be a huge get, though.

    Ben: That player would be Zach Evans, but who the heck knows what is going through that kid’s head at any given moment. The two names that have been trending for Tennessee in recruiting of late are the names that Nathanael mentioned — Kamar Wilcoxson and Junior Colson. But those guys wouldn’t be a surprise. After all, a surprise is a surprise for a reason.

    “Do u guys see us landing any 5 stars in this class, if so who?” – Stevie

    Nathanael: The ones I feel best about right now are Dylan Brooks, Payton Page, and Terrence Lewis. Even with that, though, I don’t know that I’d pick UT to get more than one of that trio. Brooks is probably the most likely right now, but he is far from a guarantee. I’d also throw in Nolan Rucci and Smael Mondon as possibilities but not super likely at the moment.

    Ben: As of the beginning of April, I would say no. I like where Tennessee stands with Dylan Brooks, but he seems like he’s going to end up at Auburn or Alabama. I like where Tennessee stands with Payton Page, but North Carolina and Clemson appear to be the favorite there. I also like where Tennessee stands with Nolan Rucci, but Penn State looks to be the favorite. So, as of today, I say no. But that doesn’t mean that Tennessee doesn’t have a chance to. They absolutely do, and I like where the Vols stand with a couple of them.

    “Who do you think is the best wide receiver in Tennessee football history?” – @sellersphd

    Nathanael: Jayson Swain.

    I’m kidding, but I obviously do have a ton of respect for what Swain did as a player and what he does now as a radio host. He never dropped passes. But in terms of greatest of all-time in UT history? I don’t feel qualified to answer that at only 27 years of age, but I don’t think you could go wrong choosing either Peerless Price, Carl Pickens, or Joey Kent. I’d maybe even throw in Larry Seivers. From a pure athleticism standpoint, Willie Gault or Kelley Washington should be right up there.

    Ben: Joey Kent. Ask every wide receiver to ever play at Tennessee and nearly all of them will respond with Kent’s name. That’s all I need to know, because the biggest compliment will always come from a peer. After all, nobody in program history has ever caught more passes or tallied more receiving yards than Kent.

    “Way too Early Top 25 polls for 20/21 Basketball season are out. Tennessee has been placed right outside the Top 10, somewhere between 11-14 for the most part. Is this warranted? Does next years team have more upside than the team with Grant and Admiral that spent 4 weeks at #1?” – Austin

    Nathanael: It’s absolutely warranted, at least based on potential. With the returning core of John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, Josiah-Jordan James, and Santiago Vescovi to go along with a more experienced bench, two five-stars, a four-star, and grad transfer EJ Anosike, this team should be a top-15 or top-10 preseason team depending on who all declares for the NBA Draft on other teams.

    As far as upside, I would say that’s tough to gauge, but I’d argue it’s higher for this upcoming team right now. That 2018-19 team had the benefit of playing with each other for two years prior to the season, and they were extremely experienced. But from a pure athleticism and skill standpoint, they were outmatched in a few games, and it showed a few times. This upcoming season, Tennessee will not only have experienced players returning, but the pure talent and skill on the roster will be greater than anything I’ve seen in my lifetime for UT’s men’s basketball team, that’s for sure. No matter what happens next season, Tennessee will have at least one five-star player coming off the bench. They may even have two five-stars playing off the bench. When is the last time Tennessee has ever had that in men’s hoops?

    Ben: Tennessee has the potential to be a top 15 team, or even a top 10 team next season. But at the beginning of April, I don’t know that it’s warranted. The Vols are without a doubt a top 25 team as of today, but I don’t know about a top 15 team. There’s a lot of pure talent, but it’s still a lot of young talent. Especially at the guard position, where experience is key in college basketball. This team’s ability to shoot the basketball from the perimeter, especially at the wing, is a concern of mine as of today. This team’s ability to play defense might be able to make up for it, though.

    I truly like this team’s potential, but they’re not a top 15 team as of today.