Every time Tennessee gets a commitment in either football or men’s basketball, we will write up an impact report looking at what all that recruit will bring to the Vols over the next few years.
Latest Commit: J’Marion Gooch, OT
Height/Weight: 6-foot-7.5, 358 lbs.
School: The King’s Academy
Home Town: Seymour, Tennessee
247Sports Composite: Three-star, No. 790 overall, No. 68 OT, No. 22 TN
247Sports: No. 62 OT, No. 20 TN
Rivals: Three-star, not ranked
ESPN: Three-star, No. 187 regional, No. 38 OT, No. 11 TN
Notable Offers: Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Oregon, South Carolina, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
How does Gooch fit in with the Vols?
Gooch fits in perfectly with the mentality Tennessee has adopted along the offensive line under Will Friend, Jim Chaney and Jeremy Pruitt. The product of The Kings Academy is an imposing force of nature who just wears his opponents down with his size. Not only does his mentality coincide with Tennessee’s, but at 6-foot-7, his size more than fits that of an offensive tackle — a position that the Vols have locked in on this recruiting cycle.
The Seymour, Tennessee is stocked full of potential and talent. Most his size can’t move the way that he does. But he still has quite a bit of ways to go before he’ll be leaned on to be a starter on Tennessee’s offensive line. Gooch won’t need to play early, however, as Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright are only sophomores.
What does Gooch’s commitment mean for Tennessee?
Gooch may not be ranked highly, but he doesn’t need to be to prove he’s worthy of playing in the SEC. Just look at the school he flipped from, Auburn, who has had a great track record under Gus Malzahn of developing offensive linemen and sending them to the NFL. Gooch’s commitment is big for the Vols, especially since he’s a 30-minute drive from campus.
Gooch is the second offensive lineman commitment for the Vols this cycle. He joins three-star offensive tackle Colby Smith out of North Carolina. With Nashville-area three-star offensive lineman William Griffin Parker scheduled to announce between Tennessee, Alabama and Florida this coming Friday, the Vols’ could be well on their way to signing yet another impressive offensive line class for the third year in a row.
To get a feel for the type of player Tennessee is getting in Gooch, Rocky Top Insider spoke with The Kings Academy head coach Jonathan Sellers. Here’s everything Sellers had to say about Gooch:
On the type of player Tennessee is getting in Gooch:
“We’re awfully excited as a coaching staff for him. He came us last year in April, had transferred in, actually had never played a snap of offensive line until the spring of last year. He’s obviously a huge kid at 6-foot-7, 350 pounds. Very large, massive human. The best attribute about him is that he’s able to move that frame. That’s the thing that every college coach has called me and talked to me about it, and raved about. You see it everyday in practice — the ability to bend, the ability to move, and to move people is tremendous.”
On how Gooch has improved since beginning to play offensive tackle 16 months ago:
“It’s a big testament to him. He’s worked really hard. He had play some defensive line and tight end growing up, but we made the switch when he came to us, to put him at tackle, and he was a baby at that position. But you’ve seen him the first two weeks of our season be the anchor of our offensive line that last week rushed for 250, and the week before had a good night. He’s improved incredibly over the last 16 months.”
On going up against kids his size at camp:
“At first, it was a mixed bag because he was still really raw. Towards the end of the summer, he went to a couple of camps, one of which was the Auburn camp where he really impressed the coaching staff there. He was getting ready for some camps this summer but wasn’t able to attend them. I know that’s something he’s excited about to get to the point later on this year where we play against other lineman more his size. He always welcomes those challenges.”
On what colleges like about Gooch:
“They rave about his ability to move at his size the most. The ability to move like that at his size is the thing they talk about the most. He’s still young, still raw in certain capacities. He knows that where he’s at is not where he’s going to end either. That’s something that coaches still talk about a lot. Last Friday night was his 13th start as an offensive lineman. He still has a long ways to go and improve on the field and in the weight room. We’re really excited about his upside.”
On what Gooch needs to improve on as he works towards the next level:
“Just needs to get more snaps under his belt. More he plays, better he’s going to get. He’s still fairly new to the position. He’s done a really good of learning and how to work in the weight room. I expect him to still transform his body and I think you’ll see that at the next level as well. Just continuing to get experience and improve in all capacities, whether it be in pass protection or run-blocking. There’s still a lot of room for him to grow even from where he’s currently at.”
On Gooch’s personality:
“He’s actually a very soft-spoken kid to be so big. You can’t help but smile when you’re in his presence. He’s a funny kid. He’s just great to be around. Fun, easy going. Those are the things that Tennessee fans are going to love about him.”