Fact or Fiction: Vols don't recruit home state well enough
National recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.
1. Chris Morris choosing Texas A&M is another example of the Vols not recruiting their home state well enough.
Farrell’s take: FACT. Chris Morris is listed as a commit for Texas A&M out of Arkansas, but he's from Memphis and played much of his high school football in Tennessee. When you look at guys like Tee Higgins, Jacoby Stevens, Jacob Phillips and Cade Mays having success for teams battling for the national title, it makes you wonder what the Vols look like if they kept all of these players in-state.
Tennessee did a good job recruiting out-of-state and landing some key in-state commitments under Butch Jones, but too many top prospects are still getting out of the state. And the talent in Tennessee is growing each year.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Tennessee is not doing a good job of keeping top players in-state and other teams are taking advantage - some that are in as big of a mess as the Vols. It’s not just Higgins who goes to Clemson or Mays who flips to Georgia. Look at somebody like Trey Knox, who could have been a huge asset in the Vols’ passing attack last cycle and he went to Arkansas. With Morris out of the state rankings, the top player now is four-star DE Reggie Grimes and it looks like he’s going to South Carolina, hardly a program that’s been killing it on the field in recent seasons. Tennessee has a lot of tradition and history and a great game-day environment, but the kids in the state seem to want out until the Vols can prove they’re a winner.
2. Antonio Alfano can still have a big college career.
Farrell’s take: FACT. Antonio Alfano, a five-star defensive tackle from the 2019 class, is not listed on the Alabama online roster and has reportedly entered the transfer portal. The talented defensive lineman was in the news recently for "quitting" according to head coach Nick Saban and now it looks like Alfano will never suit up for the Tide. Saban doesn't like quitters, we all know that, and I don't think this relationship can be repaired.
Alfano was reportedly having some personal issues regarding a family illness and homesickness, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him end up at Rutgers. His short stay in Tuscaloosa appears over, but I still think he can have a big career.
Gorney’s take: FACT. The saga around Alfano is disappointing because he had the talent to be a superstar at Alabama, but whatever the case may be his time in Tuscaloosa is done now. That’s still OK because some of the best players in college football at almost every position are transfers who get a fresh start.
If he wants to be closer to home, Rutgers could make sense but Maryland isn’t far away and neither is Penn State. There are options for someone as talented as Alfano and I still expect him to have a great college career.
3. Bijan Robinson is the best back in the 2020 class.
Farrell’s take: FACT. I'm not one to go crazy over stats and such as it's a very overrated way to evaluate players, but when you combine Bijan Robinson's film and body of work, it can't be ignored. This is a kid who is averaging more than 20 yards a rush and a reception and has scored on nearly half the plays he has touched the ball. I'm not sold on Zachary Evans as much as I was when he was a junior and the other five-star running backs, Kendall Milton and Demarkcus Bowman, are very good but not as versatile as Robinson. I'm a big fan of Tank Bigsby, the Auburn commitment, and he could be the best in the country, but it's hard to argue against Robinson who will be a star at Texas.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. This is such a tough question because I absolutely love Robinson and his stats are just completely insane. He’s going to have a phenomenal career in that Texas offense if the Longhorns use him appropriately, but I still have to think three or four years from now Evans is going to be at the top of NFL Draft boards. He’s so physically impressive, he’s a tough runner, he looked awesome at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas before his junior season and he has a lot going for him. If he can just get focused and keep his eye on the prize, Evans at LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia or Alabama would be something to see.