Everything you need to know and what actually matters about the 2019 Tennessee Volunteers recruiting class.
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We’ve seen big-time recruiting classes at Tennessee before. It used to be assumed that the Vols would have a top ten recruiting class – normally finishing up in the top five – but it meant a fat load of jack squat at the end of the Butch Jones era. After a down recruiting season of transition, Jeremy Pruitt has the program back in the mix for the big-time prospects again.
No, Tennessee isn’t beating Alabama and Georgia for all the stars – but it did win its share of battles – and it’s going to hover around the top 15 rather than the top five, but it’s more than strong enough for Jeremy Pruitt to work with. He’s cleaning house a bit, and this class might end up making a big impact right away.
More than anything else, Pruitt wants his team to be tougher and more physical, and that starts on the lines. He did what he could with the offensive front last year, but this time around he loaded up big-time up front. Darnell Wright was the signing of all signings – getting him out of West Virginia to eventually be the anchor – but this is a deep, deep group.
If Wright wasn’t the best player in the class, he was at least the biggest February signing. There’s a chance Wanya Morris could be every bit as good, if not better than Wright. He’s not as big, but the next-level upside is there. If Morris and Wright turn into the players they’re expected to be, this class works.
The superstar quarterback still isn’t there. Jarrett Guarantano has two years left, but he’s not enough of a talent to be automatically locked into the starting gig. Tennessee hasn’t jumped into the grad transfer pool like it did last year with Stanford’s Keller Chryst, and 2018 recruit JT Shrout is just a prospect. The same goes for pro-style passer Brian Maurer in this year’s class. Texas A&M and Florida offered, but he’s not a five-star get.
Next year has to be about the receivers. There weren’t many signed on in the last two classes, but Ramel Keyton has the talent to be a good one. Pruitt is big on tight ends, and for the second straight year he signed a few good ones.
Speaking of getting tougher on the lines, the defensive interior got its share of live bodies, too. Savion Williams was a wonderful signing out of Pennsylvania, and 350-pound Elijah Simmons is a Coke machine who’ll gum up the works in the tackle rotation.
The linebackers are missing. Pruitt only signed two in the last two seasons, but Henry To’oto’o in this class is a fantastic one. Beating out Alabama, Florida and USC for the California native was a really big deal.
All that’s missing is a little bit of success. Pruitt was able to get a whole bunch of four-star guys, and he was able to compete for a few of the elite prospects. Imagine what he and his still could do with a few wins. As long as there’s an improvement this season on the field, the 2020 class should be a whopper.