Vols are Trending for Elite 4-Star Linebacker

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    (Photo via FootballHotbed.com)

    On Sunday, one of Tennessee’s top remaining defensive targets announced that he would be making his public commitment on Mother’s Day on May 10th. The very next day, a flood of crystal ball predictions in favor of the Vols came in for him.

    Aaron Willis is one of the top prospects in the state of Maryland and is rated as one of the top outside linebackers in the 2021 class. He plans to announce his college choice this upcoming weekend, and recruiting analysts across the country seem to think Tennessee will be the choice.

    The 6-foot, 200-pound defender who plays for St. Frances Academy is the No. 112 overall prospect and No. 9 outside linebacker in the 2021 cycle per the 247Sports Composite rankings. Willis plays for the same high school as Tennessee 2020 signee and current early enrollee defensive lineman Dominic Bailey did.

    In a span of a couple hours on Monday morning, over half a dozen crystal ball predictions came in that projected Willis to commit to Tennessee on the 10th. Both Ryan Callahan and Gran Ramey of GoVols247 put in predictions for the Vols, as did Steve Wiltfong, the Director of Football Recruiting for 247Sports, and Brian Dohn, a prominent national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.

    The Vols are now the clear favorite for Willis in the crystal ball picks, owning seven of the eight predictions for Willis’ commitment. The only other prediction is an “undecided” one.

    Tennessee offered Willis back on January 24, 2019 while he was still committed to Virginia Tech. Willis committed to the Hokies on September 21, 2018, but he reopened his recruitment on April 29, 2019.

    Willis included the Vols in his list of top seven schools back on April 4th. Tennessee was joined by Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Texas, Maryland, and Arizona State.

    On the field, Willis is a dynamic defender who has a penchant for laying down some big hits. He moves very quickly and covers a lot of ground in a short period of time. He possesses a strong base and has good footwork as well, displaying patience to let a play develop and dissect it while also showing off great aggression. His instincts are phenomenal, and he could develop more into an inside linebacker or defensive back prospect depending on how schools want to use him.

    The state of Maryland has been a huge focus for the Vols in the 2021 class. Willis is just one of several targets Tennessee has in the state, including four-star wide receiver Dont’e Thornton, four-star defensive tackle Katron Evans, four-star inside linebacker Greg Penn III, four-star outside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson, and four-star defensive end and Maryland commit Demeioun Robinson.

    Willis isn’t the only Vol target set to announce his college commitment on Mother’s Day, however. Four-star dual-threat quarterback Kaidon Salter out of Texas will also be committing on Sunday, and Tennessee is trending there as well. The Vols are the pick for all 12 crystal ball predictions currently logged for Salter. Auburn and Baylor are Salter’s two other finalists along with Tennessee prior to his decision.

    Tennessee has 17 prospects committed to them in their 2021 class, and the Vols’ class currently ranks No. 3 in the nation on 247Sports and No. 2 on Rivals. Tennessee sits atop the SEC in both rankings.



    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.