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Tennessee Set to Host Highly-Touted 2026 Cornerback Samari Matthews This Weekend

Samari Matthews
Tennessee Football target Samari Matthews. Photo via Matthews (@sdm_smoke) on Instagram.

Tennessee is continuing to make an effort to build its relationship with Samari “Smoke” Matthews, one of the top-ranking cornerbacks in the 2026 recruiting cycle.

Matthews revealed an upcoming visit to Tennessee this weekend on social media Tuesday, tagging Vols defensive coordinator Tim Banks and Vols secondary coach Willie Martinez in the process.

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While still early in the cycle, Matthews projects as one of the top defensive players on the board as a Top 100 recruit overall. According to 247 Sports’ Composite rankings, Matthews comes in as a four-star prospect, the No. 88 player in the country, the No. 8 cornerback in the class, and the No. 7 player from the state of North Carolina.

No matter who is in the race, though, it’s going to be a battle for Matthews’ services. The North Carolina native has 38 offers including powerhouse programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Southern California, and Penn State.

It’s also hard to count out local teams such as North Carolina, South Carolina, and NC State in the race for Matthews’ services this early in the process, too.

The Gamecocks aren’t on Tennnessee’s 2024 schedule due to the division-less SEC format moving forward, but the Vols will take on NC State in a high-profile neutral site game in Week 2 from Charlotte, NC – less than half an hour away from where Matthews plays his high school ball.

That’s why it’s been important for Tennessee and their staff to build a relationship with the highly-touted cornerback.

Tennessee was one of the first programs to offer Matthews a scholarship, doing so on Sept. 25, 2022. 247 Sports’ player timeline has Tennessee as the third team to extend an offer to Matthews.

After a slew of teams gave Matthews an offer in the back half of 2022 and the front half of 2023, the 2026 prospect visited Tennessee for a school camp on June 13, 2023, and had his offer reaffirmed by Tennessee one day later.

Matthews was also in Knoxville this spring for the seventh practice of Tennessee’s spring camp slate on April 1.

More from RTI: See Recruits Social Media Reactions To Tennessee Football’s Massive Recruiting Weekend

Samari Matthews plays his high school ball at William Amos Hough High School in Cornelius, NC, just about a 250-mile drive away from Tennessee’s campus in Knoxville.

The six-foot, 180-pound cornerback will be on Rocky Top this Sunday for a visit with the Vols.

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