Tennessee has picked up a ton of momentum on the recruiting trail over the last few days, and they may not be done just yet.
The party started when five-star weak-side defensive end Dylan Brooks out of Alabama announced his commitment to Tennessee on Sunday, giving the Vols their first five-star commit in the 2021 class. The next day, four-star defensive back and former Florida commit Kamar Wilcoxson committed to the Vols. Then on Tuesday, four-star wideout Julian Nixon gave Tennessee their third commit in three days, announcing his pledge to the UT.
Just like that, Tennessee’s 2021 class went from having one four-star prospect committed to suddenly having four players rated as four-stars or better in their class. And all those commits vaulted UT up recruiting rankings, too, as Tennessee’s class is now ranked 5th in the country on both 247Sports and Rivals.com.
But as good as things have been over the last few days, more good news may still be on the horizon.
On Wednesday afternoon, Shannon B. Terry, the founder and CEO of 247Sports, sent an unprompted tweet praising Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, simply stating that the Vols’ third-year head coach “is building something.”
@CoachJPruitt is building something.
— Shannon B. Terry (@sbterry247) April 29, 2020
Based on what the Vols have accomplished over the last week on the recruiting trail, that statement isn’t a huge surprise. But when you couple it with the fact that Tennessee now appears to be trending for another five-star prospect, then there’s even more reason to celebrate for Vol fans.
Five-star outside linebacker Terrence Lewis released a list of his top six schools back on April 4th, and the Vols were included along with Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Penn State, and Nebraska. Originally, it seemed as though Tennessee would be playing catch-up with some of Lewis’ other top teams, but now the Vols have surged into the lead for his services according to several recruiting experts across the country.
In about a two-hour span on Wednesday afternoon, seven different recruiting analysts logged crystal ball predictions in favor of Tennessee for Lewis on 247Sports. Chief among those were Steve Wiltfong, the Director of Football Recruiting for 247Sports, Andrew Ivins, the lead expert on Lewis for Miami’s 247Sports site, and both Grant Ramey and Ryan Callahan of GoVols247.
Lewis has not made any public announcement about a commitment, but his Twitter activity was extremely pro-Tennessee on Wednesday, leading many to believe that the Vols have made a strong move for the five-star.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound defender is ranked as the No. 1 outside linebacker, No. 10 overall prospect, and No. 2 recruit in the state of Florida per the 247Sports Composite rankings. Lewis was once committed to Florida, announcing a pledge to the Gators in January of 2019. But a few months later in April, he reopened his recruitment.
Ace recruiter and inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer is the Vols’ primary recruiter for Lewis.
In an interview with Matt Ray of VR2, Lewis gushed about Niedermeyer, saying that the young assistant has put Tennessee higher up his list.
“Mine and his relationship has grown a lot,” Lewis told Ray. “I feel like I could talk to him about anything.
“Now that he is at my position, it pushes Tennessee up my list because we have a great relationship. We talk all the time. That is my guy.”
Lewis also added that he feels he needs “to take more visits” before making a decision on a college, and that won’t be happening any time soon thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. The five-star also admitted that he is “unsure” about a timeline for his recruitment and announcement currently.
As a junior at Miami Northwestern (before transferring to Chaminade-Madonna Prep prior to his upcoming senior season), Lewis amassed 105 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and three interceptions in 13 games according to MaxPreps. He was named a First Team Junior All-American by MaxPreps after his 2019 season, and he helped lead Miami Northwestern to a 13-2 record and the Florida 5A state title.
In Lewis’ two years at Miami Northwestern in 2018 and 2019, he combined for 207 tackles, 50 tackles for loss, 24 sacks, four interceptions, and three forced fumbles.
Also worth noting is that Tennessee has a few more targets scheduled to make announcements soon. Four-star dual-threat quarterback Kaidon Salter and four-star outside linebacker Aaron Willis are both set to announce their decisions on May 10th, just a week and a half from now.