Recruiting Impact: Lincoln Riley to USC
On the field, the first season of the Josh Heupel was a major success. The Vols won seven regular season games for just the fifth time since 2008 and Heupel is the most successful first year coach in the power five.
Ten months on the job, one of the few areas Heupel has struggled is on the recruiting trail. The Vols’ currently hold the nation’s No. 28 (No. 10 SEC) ranked recruiting class according to 247sports and UT has commits from just two blue-chip recruits.
It’s hard to grasp how many of Heupel’s recruiting issues were about himself and his staff and how many were about the NCAA violations and lack of momentum in the UT football program entering the season.
There’s reason to believe more blame falls on the latter reason and that includes the early momentum Heupel and his staff have created in the 2023 class.
Iamaleava is one of the highest sought after players in the entire class of 2023. The Downey, California native is the nation’s No. 16 prospect and the No. 4 quarterback according to the 247sports composite rankings. 247sports own rankings are even higher on Iamaleava, ranking him as the nation’s No. 5 prospect.
— 🇼🇸Nicholaus Iamaleava Jr.🇦🇸 (@nico_iamaleava8) November 28, 2021
Iamaleava tried to visit Knoxville multiple times earlier in the fall but wasn’t able to line up a visit until this weekend. Alabama, Oregon and UCLA are considered major contenders for the third best player in California.
Lincoln Riley’s move from Oklahoma to USC appears to be a major negative for Tennessee’s pursuit of Iamaleava at first glance. However, the nation’s No. 2 player — Malachi Nelson — is a quarterback from Las Angeles who was committed to Oklahoma until Riley announced his departure yesterday.
Nelson appears likely to follow Riley to Southern Cal, leaving the Trojans out of Iamaleava’s recruitment.
Tate is the nation’s No. 40 player and the seventh best receiver in the 2023 class according to the 247sports composites. The 6-foot-2 receiver is the nation’s No. 16 player in 247sports own rankings.
— Carnell Tate ¹⁷ (@carnelltate_) November 29, 2021
While Tate attends IMG Academy in Florida, the four-star is originally from outside of Chicago. Ohio State and Notre Dame are the early leaders in Tate’s recruitment though the explosive receiver appeared impressed with Knoxville.
I love it down here. I can’t wait to be back! #GBO🍊!
— Carnell Tate ¹⁷ (@carnelltate_) November 28, 2021
Recruiting hasn’t been a strength in the Josh Heupel era so far, but the first year head coach is showing early signs that the 2023 class will be better than the 2022 class. Grabbing a commitment from either of these highly sought after recruits would be huge for the Vols.