Vols are Poised for More Big Additions to 2021 Class

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    (Photo via Battle Miami/@KaidonSalter_7 on Twitter)

    Tennessee’s coaching staff has been highly impressive on the recruiting trail over the last two weeks. Starting on Sunday, April 26th, the Vols picked up commitments from eight prospects in a nine-day span. Among that group were five-stars Terrence Lewis and Dylan Brooks, four-stars Cody Brown, Julian Nixon, Kamar Wilcoxson, and Colby Smith, and No. 1 JUCO running back Tiyon Smith. Three-star athlete De’Shawn Rucker — who holds offers from Clemson, Alabama, LSU, and others — also committed to the Vols in that time frame.

    That run caught the attention of the college football world, and it vaulted Tennessee’s 2021 class to No. 2 in the nation on both 247Sports and Rivals. But the Vols’ hot streak doesn’t look like it’s over just yet.

    Several prospects are set to announce their college commitments this Mother’s Day weekend, and there’s a trio of highly-rated recruits who are announcing who all seem to be trending Tennessee’s way.

    On Saturday, four-star defensive tackle Katron Evans out of St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland will be announcing at around 5:00 PM Eastern. While Evans has not released a list of finalists, he had a top eight of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, USC, TCU, and Arizona State a month ago.

    While all those schools are likely still in consideration, the Vols appear to be the clear favorites to land Evans.

    According to the crystal ball predictions on 247Sports, Evans is a near-lock to Tennessee. All nine predictions that have been logged for Evans are in favor of the Vols, and all nine crystal balls have been given in the past week.

    The 6-foot-4, 320-pound lineman is rated as the No. 179 overall prospect, No. 9 defensive tackle, and No. 8 recruit in the state of Maryland per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

    Evans’ teammate at St. Frances Academy, four-star outside linebacker Aaron Willis, will be announcing the next day, May 10th. He’s set to announce at around noon Eastern, and Tennessee is the favorite to pick up his commitment as well.

    The talented linebacker has had 10 crystal ball predictions logged for him on 247Sports since May 4th, and all but one has been for Willis to pick Tennessee. The only one not in favor of the Vols is an “undecided” prediction.

    Willis is the No. 112 overall prospect, ninth-best outside linebacker, and No. 4 recruit in Maryland per the 247Sports Composite rankings. He had a top seven of Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Texas, Maryland, and Arizona State just over a month ago.

    But those two Maryland prospects aren’t the only recruits Tennessee could land this weekend.

    Later on Sunday — at around 1:00 PM Eastern — four-star dual-threat quarterback Kaidon Salter will be announcing his decision. Tennessee, Auburn, and Baylor are believed to be the finalists, but the Vols are carrying all the momentum heading into Salter’s decision.

    Just like with Evans and Willis, the crystal ball predictions on 247Sports are leaning heavily towards Tennessee. All 21 of the crystal balls logged for Salter have him picking the Vols on Sunday, with no predictions coming in for his other two finalists.

    The 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback is rated as high as the No. 88 prospect and No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the 2021 class according to 247Sports. Per their composite rankings, the Cedar Hill, Texas quarterback is the 280th-best recruit and No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the class.

    In a recent interview with Greg Riddle of The Dallas Morning News, Salter raved about the Vols and his relationship with them, claiming Tennessee is “definitely up there” for him and that UT wishing his younger sister a happy birthday on social media really stood out to him.

    “That was real big. They’ve really been paying attention and doing some research on me,” Salter told Riddle. “The love with Tennessee that me and my family has is real big. Tennessee was the last school that I visited before COVID-19 and the dead period happened. I was able to watch their spring practice and sit and talk to the coaches, check out the nice facilities and talk to the academic programs.”

    As a junior last season for Cedar Hill, Salter proved to be a true dual-threat, throwing for 2,550 yards, 28 touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing 60.8 percent of his 245 pass attempts and adding 616 rushing yards and 10 scores on just 100 carries.

    If Tennessee lands all three of these prospects, not only will they widen the gap between themselves and the rest of the SEC in the 2021 class currently, but they’ll move even closer to the top spot in the rankings.

    According to 247Sports’ class calculator, adding Evans, Willis, and Salter would push Tennessee’s average ranking per recruit to just under .90 and would extend the Vols’ lead at No. 2 in the 2021 class even further ahead of North Carolina, who currently sits at No. 3. Ohio State holds a pretty strong lead at No. 1 overall, but the Vols would inch even closer to the Buckeyes with the pledges of Evans, Willis, and Salter.



    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.