Vols release four-star signee from National Letter of Intent

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    (Photo via @HandleyATH on Twitter)

    One of the highest-rated signees of Tennessee’s 2021 recruiting class has been officially released from his National Letter of Intent. The University of Tennessee gave him an unconditional release on Friday, after waiting just over 30 days for the release, according to Brooks.

    Four-star defensive end Dylan Brooks was the prize recruit of Jeremy Pruitt’s staff while he was still coaching at Tennessee. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, the Roanoke, Alabama high school star had committed to the Vols in April of 2020. It was during that time period where Tennessee had gone on a recruiting hot streak, landing star after star.

    The Vols were in a great position for the Alabama native through the 2020 season, even with Tennessee posting a 3-7 record. Then came the postseason, which for Pruitt and some of his staff, it meant being part of the internal investigation that led to Pruitt’s demise. The firing of the head football coach and assistant coaches led to a few players wanting out of their signed letters of intent.

    Brooks signed with Tennessee during the early signing period, but did not announce his destination until the last day in December. Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman ended up firing Pruitt on Jan. 19, leading some to wonder if the highly prized recruit would end up in Knoxville after all.

    Shortly after the firing of Pruitt, Brooks called the compliance office and asked to be released from his NLI. Brooks was not the only one, as four-star running back signee Cody Brown also asked for his release and was granted his earlier this week. According to Brooks’ high school coach, Tennessee was playing hard ball with the Alabama native, even pushing a bit past the 30-day window.

    After a long and drawn out process, Tennessee finally released Brooks. This marriage seemed like it would never work out, no matter who the Vols brought in as defensive coordinator or defensive line coach. It had gotten to a point where it was better for both sides to just cut bait and move on. The national attention this was drawing to Tennessee wasn’t helping either.

    It is believed Auburn will make another run at Brooks, since they haven’t been able to contact him during this process, only his high school coach.

    The Vols have had their fair share of bad luck over the past few years and this wasn’t a hill this new staff needed to die on. They definitely have more important issues now.

    Trey Wallace
    Trey Wallace is a Knoxville-based journalist who has been covering University of Tennessee athletics since early 2018. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football's biggest stories. His vast social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of Vol Nation's most trusted sources. Wallace was born and raised in Mobile, AL and graduated from the University of South Alabama. He loves the mountains as much as the beach and looks forward to living in East Tennessee for many years to come.