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    (Photo via @_Chilloutjay on Twitter)

    Tennessee has already picked up commitments from several of their top in-state targets in the 2020 class. On Friday, another of their in-state targets released his list of top schools, and the Vols made the cut.

    Jay Hardy, an elite four-star defensive lineman who plays for McCallie School in Chattanooga, tweeted out a graphic revealing his top five schools in his recruitment on Friday. The Vols were included along with Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Georgia Tech.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Hardy is the No. 117 overall prospect, No. 5 strong-side defensive end, and No. 5 player in the state of Tennessee in the 2020 class. Along with the teams in his top five, he also holds offers from Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Penn State among others.

    The 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman has already visited Tennessee’s campus multiple times in 2019. The Vols’ coaching staff extended an offer to Hardy back in December of 2018, and he’s visited at least five times since then. Hardy made unofficial visits in January, March, April, May, and July to UT’s campus. His most recent trip in July was to UT’s pool party during the last weekend before the dead period began.

    Hardy, who is the younger brother of former Vol fullback Kevin Cooper, is likely to take all five of his official visits to the schools on his list and isn’t expected to make an announcement about his commitment till after his senior season.

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    On the field, Hardy looks unstoppable at times. He moves extremely well for his size, and he holds his nearly 300 pounds very well on his frame. He’s a vicious tackler and plays with an edge. Hardy doesn’t really take any plays off, and he’s a physical freak. He has very long arms that he uses to bat down passes and grab running backs who look like they should be out of his reach. He’ll need to work a bit on his technique at the next level, but it’s clear that he’s a top-tier talent and is one of the best defensive linemen in the 2020 class.

    Tennessee currently holds commitments from five in-state prospects in the 2020 class. Four-star safety Keshawn Lawrence, four-star center Cooper Mays, three-star running back Tee Hodge, three-star athlete Darion Williamson, and long snapper Will Albright have all pledged their commitments to the Vols this cycle.

    Hardy is one of UT’s biggest remaining targets inside their own state borders. The Vols would love to get a commitment from him and other in-state prospects such as defensive tackle Omari Thomas, defensive lineman Tyler Baron, defensive end Reggie Grimes, and linebacker Bryson Eason.



      Photo by Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

      Fall camp is over, and Tennessee’s football team is now preparing for the 2019 season and their season opening opponent, Georgia State. That means there’s about a week away till the Vols begin their second season under head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

      With fall camp out of the way, the Vols’ depth chart has started to become more clear in a number of areas. Tennessee entered fall camp with a lot of questions surrounding the roster, and some of those have been answered. Some, however, are still up in the air with game week prep now here.

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      Still, several players have more or less cemented their spots as starters, and many others have made moves along the two-deep.

      Here are our best estimations of how the Vols’ depth chart looks after fall camp before the start of the 2019 season. We go beyond the two-deep where we can, but we at least give a look at the Vols’ two-deep depth chart and how it likely stands heading into the season.



        (Photo via @_VR2_ on Twitter)

        Tennessee quarterback commit Harrison Bailey has put up some huge numbers on the field over the last couple seasons, and he got his senior year at Marietta off to a dominating start on Thursday night.

        Marietta opened up their 2019 season by taking on 5A powerhouse Rome High School. Rome has won a state title two of the last three years, but they were no match for Marietta, who plays in the highest classification of Georgia high school football. Bailey, who is a four-star and the No. 130 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings, was superb in Marietta’s season opener, and one of Tennessee’s top targets in the 2020 recruiting class also had a big day.

        Bailey finished 19-of-30 for 367 yards and five touchdowns against Rome, leading Marietta to a 48-14 blowout victory in the Corky Kell Classic. Marietta was up 27-0 at halftime, and Bailey and the loaded roster at Marietta were able to cruise in the second half.

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        One of the biggest knocks on Bailey’s game throughout the camp circuit has been his footwork and mobility. He showed off some improved movement on Thursday, scrambling a couple times and avoiding pressure more effectively. As you can see in the video captured by our associates at Vol Recruiting Reports — who were at the Corky Kell Classic to bring you first-hand coverage — Bailey ripped off a solid gain on a scramble early in the contest.

        But it wasn’t just Bailey who stood out.

        Bailey’s top target on the night was none other than Arik Gilbert, the five-star tight end/wide receiver who is high on Tennessee’s recruiting board. Gilbert hauled in nine passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

        Tennessee’s four-star QB commit looked for Gilbert time and time again, including on a big third down and 22 at one point. Bailey connected with Gilbert, and the big 6-foot-5, 253-pound athlete helped convert for a first down.

        Bailey also had a well-placed pass to Gilbert in the back of the end zone for a touchdown (and Gilbert grabbed it with one hand), and he threw a dart over the middle to Gilbert for a first down, fitting the pass in a tight window.

        But Bailey isn’t the only Vol commit on Marietta’s roster.

        BJ Ojulari announced his commitment to Tennessee a week ago during a ceremony at Marietta High School, and he was effective on both sides of the ball for the Blue Devils. He totaled seven tackles and a pass break up on defense and played on the offensive line as well. Ojulari helped the offensive line protect Bailey, as the four-star quarterback was only sacked once during the game.

        According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Ojulari is the No. 158 overall prospect and No. 10 weak-side defensive end in the 2020 class.

        Marietta will be back on the field for their second game of the season next Friday, August 30th. They’ll host St. Joseph’s from Philadelphia at 7:30 PM Eastern.



          Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

          In this episode of the RTI Podcast, managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee discuss the Vols’ most recent addition to their roster and another position change on the practice field. Tennessee officially added Kasim Hill, a transfer quarterback from Maryland. What kind of upside does he bring, and what does this mean for UT’s quarterback room in 2020? Also, is Jeremy Banks’ move to linebacker a permanent transition, or is this just a temporary move? If he stays at LB, will he see much playing time this season?

          Make sure you don’t miss an episode of the RTI Podcast! Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts here! And make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for another way to experience the podcast!

            Tennessee’s football team was back out on the practice field on Thursday, but this time they were in the indoor practice facility. We were there to capture what we could on camera.

            Due to a slight scheduling oversight, the media was only allowed to see about two minutes worth of practice on Thursday. But RTI staff writer Ben McKee was still able to get some work on film that showed off the defensive linemen and Jeremy Banks back with the linebackers.

            Here are the highlights from Thursday’s practice session:

              Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

              Jeremy Banks began his Tennessee career as a running back last season, but after fumbling the ball away several times in the first few games of the season, he asked to be moved to linebacker. Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt obliged, and Banks practiced at linebacker for a few weeks after the Georgia game before moving back to running back due to depth concerns.

              This spring, Banks remained at running back, and he practiced throughout the entirety of fall camp at that position. But on Thursday, Banks was back at linebacker once again.

              RTI staff writer Ben McKee was at Tennessee’s Thursday practice session, and he observed that Banks was practicing with the Vols’ inside linebacker group. Banks had been held out for part of fall camp due to a minor injury, but he had been exclusively with the running backs all throughout August. Thursday’s move is the first time he’s been seen with the linebackers since October of last year.

              It’s possible that Banks was just practicing with the linebackers due to a lack of numbers at the position. Pruitt said earlier this week that the main reason he moved freshman safety Aaron Beasley over to the inside linebacker group for practice was because the Vols’ linebacker group was low on bodies. Daniel Bituli was being held out as a precaution with some minor ailments, and Pruitt stated that a “bug” had hit the group and was keeping some players from going full strength.

              Banks’ move to the linebacker group could just be temporary and a way to address a lack of numbers. Or, his move could be a permanent one.

              According to Pruitt last season, Banks himself asked to be moved to defense rather than staying at running back. That’s why when Banks was moved back to running back, it seemed like an odd choice from an outsider’s perspective.

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              The 6-foot-1, 225-pound sophomore from Cordova, TN has never appeared in a game at the linebacker spot, but he did register a few tackles on special teams against Alabama and Charlotte last season.

              As a true freshman, Banks ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries while adding a reception for 10 yards. He also totaled three tackles on special teams.

              If Banks’ move to linebacker is indeed permanent, that will leave the Vols with four scholarship running backs on the roster in 2019. Juniors Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan are the expected starters, and true freshman Eric Gray looks like the change-of-pace back to those two. Senior Carlin Fils-aime had been absent from practice for a while, but he returned to the field during Wednesday’s practice.

              Should Banks stay at linebacker, he will give the Vols 13 scholarship linebackers in the group. The players who have been practicing with the inside linebacker group the most have been Daniel Bituli, Will Ignont, Shanon Reid, Henry To’oto’o, Solon Page III, and J.J. Peterson. Quavaris Crouch worked at inside linebacker in the spring, but he’s been working with the outside linebackers during fall camp.