This is part one of a series of articles from a recent interview with Vol commit Kamar Wilcoxson.
Back when Kamar Wilcoxson committed to Tennessee at the end of April, he was part of the group that helped kick start the Vols’ hot streak in the 2021 recruiting class. Originally, he wasn’t planning on committing to Tennessee at that time, though.
The four-star defensive back who plays for IMG Academy down in Florida recently spoke with me about why he’s such a big believer in the Vols and why he chose Tennessee. His decision to announce his commitment on April 27th came shortly after a conversation he had with Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
“I wasn’t planning on committing till Signing Day,” Wilcoxson explained. “But we were on the phone for like an hour and a half, and he was just talking with me, and I just got a gut feeling, like ‘this is where I wanna play.’ I just did what I had to do at that moment.
“There’s a strong feeling of trust between me and Coach Pruitt. I’m glad to know I picked a coach I can trust.”
Wilcoxson’s decision to commit to Tennessee didn’t come lightly, though. He didn’t just decide to pledge himself to the Vols after that one conversation with Pruitt.
No, that conversation merely confirmed to Wilcoxson that Tennessee was the right choice for him. That was a thought process that started over a month earlier, and the talented defensive back did his homework before committing again. Wilcoxson had previously committed and decommitted from Florida twice early in his recruitment, but he wanted to make sure this third time was the right one.
And wherever he ended up, he wanted to bring some more elite talent with him.
“I’m a big thinker. When I’m up late at night, I think about my future and stuff like that,” Wilcoxson said. “So probably around March, I really started locking in on what was best for me and my future because I know wherever I wanted to go, I wanted to build an epic class around me. I started checking the track record of coaches, and I looked at Coach Pruitt’s, and I was like, ‘dang, Coach Pruitt is really an elite defensive back coach on top of being an elite talent evaluator.’ It’s the same with (defensive coordinator) Coach Ansley.
“Honestly, I got a steal being able to play for both of them and being able to make contributions early. And on top of that, Tennessee is a good school when it comes to academic support, the environment I’ll be living in, the fanbase support, building my brand, and all type of stuff. I really got the best of everything. Now, I’m just trying to explain to other guys that they can go look at what Coach Pruitt has done. He knows how to win, he just needs the players he had in the past to go win now.”
When Wilcoxson committed on April 27th, he was the second big name to pledge himself to the Vols in the 2021 class in as many days. Five-star defensive end Dylan Brooks — the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama — announced his commitment to Tennessee on Sunday, April 26th. Wilcoxson joined him the next day, and then the Vols welcomed in nearly a dozen other commits over the next three weeks.
Five-star outside linebacker Terrence Lewis, four-star running back Cody Brown, four-star outside linebacker Aaron Willis, four-star defensive tackle KaTron Evans, four-star wide receiver Julian Nixon, four-star quarterback Kaidon Salter, and No. 1 JUCO running back Tiyon Evans have all committed to the Vols since Brooks and Wilcoxson, as have a few other prospects. That flurry of commitments has pushed Tennessee’s 2021 class to No. 2 in the nation and tops among SEC schools currently.
But according to Wilcoxson, he and the Vols are far from done.
Among the players Wilcoxson says he’s trying to get to join him at Tennessee are five-star outside linebacker Smael Mondon, five-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims, four-star safety Terrion Arnold, four-star cornerback and current Florida commit Clinton Burton, and three-star all-purpose back and former Florida commit Brashard Smith.
His message to those recruits? Come play for a “genuine” head coach.
“Throughout this whole recruiting process, I’d listen to a coach but never really take anything they said seriously,” Wilcoxson explained. “They get paid hundreds of thousands if not millions to recruit, so they’re gonna tell you what you want to hear to try and get you there because at the end of the day, they gotta keep their job. With Coach Pruitt, he’s been real genuine throughout the whole process. Even when I was committed, he kept the recruiting at the same pace.”
Tennessee’s 2021 class is already shaping up to be one of the best classes the Vols have had in recent memory, assuming all the highly-rated prospects currently committed stay in the boat. But the Vols are still targeting several other elite recruits, and Wilcoxson hinted that Vol fans are going to see a few more players “pop off” in the future.
Wilcoxson has boasted that he’s the best peer recruiter in the 2021 class, and he’s been able to back that up so far — with some help from Tennessee’s coaches, of course. But he wants Vol fans and others around the country to know that this is just the beginning for the Vols.
“People are gonna be surprised with how we finish.”