It didn’t take long for 2022 three-star tight end Blake Gunter to hear from the new coaching staff at Tennessee once Josh Heupel was hired to be the Vols’ new head football coach. Gunter was very familiar with Heupel’s staff at UCF and held an offer from the Knights.
Upon arriving in Knoxville, Vols tight ends coach and offensive coordinator Alex Golesh quickly reached out to Gunter and made sure he knew that the offered carried over and that they would love to have him on Rocky Top.
“The whole staff, when they were at UCF, they were pretty close to me and had offered me,” Gunter told Rocky Top Insider of his offer from the Vols. “Prior to them getting the job at Tennessee I had already knew them and I was the closest with Coach Golesh after he had offered me at UCF. Whenever he got to Tennessee, one of the first things he did was reach out to me and let me know I had an offer from them, which I appreciated. It was two nights ago, he called me and we chatted for a little bit, kind of caught up. I congratulated him on his new big job and he offered me and told me that he wanted me.”
Since being offered by Tennessee, Gunter has spoken with the coaching staff in some capacity fairly frequently. Wether that be the staff as a whole or a one-on-one conversation with Golesh.
“They’ve been setting up a thing they’re going to do called the Hype House,” Gunter said. “They just invite a lot of their top guys onto a zoom and tonight it was with the whole coaching staff. They introduced themselves and told us what their standard was and what their vision was with the program. It was good to get on their and meet all the new coaches.”
Gunter is ranked as the No. 602 overall player in the country by the 247Sports Composite Rankings and is viewed as the 34th-best tight end in the country. The Madison, Mississippi native is considered the 15th-best player in the state.
Golesh hasn’t been the only member of Tennessee’s program to reach out to Gunter. The 6-foot-3, 230 lbs. tight end plays at Madison Central High School where current Tennessee wide receiver Jimmy Holiday was the quarterback during Gunter’s sophomore season.
“We talk every now and then and he told me it is a really cool place up there,” Gunter said of his relationship with Holiday. “He told me that he’s excited and that he likes the new coaching staff.
“When you think of college football, you think of Tennessee. That’s one of the powerhouses. Not necessarily the last couple of years have they been up there with the big dogs, but I definitely think that’s in the near future for them. It’s definitely one of the flagship programs in college football.”
The prospect of playing in Huepel and Golesh’s offense with Holiday is something that excites Gunter. Especially with how Tennessee could use his versatility within the offense. Golesh told Gunter that he’s “going to spread it out and beat defenses up.”
“That’s definitely the type of coach I want to play for,” Gunter said. “While we were chatting the other night, he told me I’m one of the most versatile players he’s ever seen. That’s one of my strengths. I’m extremely versatile. I’m a tight end, but can go outside and win a one-on-one matchup. I can line up in the slot or I can play h-back, get on the line and block in the box. That’s a compliment I get a lot — how well I block in the box. To still be able to go out wide and dominate those one-on-one matchups and find the soft spots in zones.”
If you had asked Gunter a couple of months ago about making a decision, he would have told you that he wanted to wait until he can take visits before picking a school. But now, with the likelihood that the recruiting dead period will be extended through May, he doesn’t know if that will be the case.
“It’s hard not being able to visit anywhere,” Gunter said while saying that Ole Miss, Memphis, Florida State, Coastal Carolina and West Virginia were also recruiting him hard. “I really haven’t decided yet.”
Gunter may hail from Mississippi, but he’s willing to leave the state despite his father having played at Ole Miss.
“Ole Miss is close to home,” Gunter said. “My Dad played there and I have some family there which is cool but it’s not really too much of a factor. And I think it would be cool to go somewhere else and experience different places and different cultures. I don’t think it should play too much of of a factor.”