Tennessee looking to lure more talent out of Peach State
The Peach State had 29 players drafted by NFL teams in 2017, the most of any state. It has averaged 19 draftees over the last decade. It is simple: Georgia is loaded with high school football prospects and Tennessee wants to get their share.
New Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt knows to win in Knoxville, he has to be very active in the Peach State. He coached in Athens for two years, he recruited top talent in Georgia when he was at Alabama and as soon as he took over at Tennessee late in 2017, he went to work in Georgia.
The Vols signed 23 players in 2018 and four played high school football in Georgia. They want more in 2019.
Rivals 250 wide receiver Ramel Keyton committed to Tennessee on Wednesday afternoon, giving the Vols their fourth Georgia commitment from a class of seven overall. The four-star out of Marietta is one of over half a dozen Tennessee targets at his high school.
Just a few days ago, Sean Brown, a tight end out of Coosa chose the Vols over Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss. His friend Jackson Lowe is a tight end from Cartersville and he had over 20 offers before committing to UT on March 30.
Wanya Morris is their top commitment and the offensive tackle out of Loganville (Ga.) committed to the Vols over Auburn on May 1. Morris is the No. 19 prospect in the country.
The staff in Knoxville hopes things are just getting started in the Peach State.
FIVE MORE TARGETS TO WATCH
Andrew Booth is a Rivals 100 cornerback that is likely to make a decision within the next two months. He is a real priority for Tennessee. Auburn and Clemson are viewed as the favorites by many right now, but the Vols are not giving up. Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee are also schools Booth has visited in 2018.
Warren Burrell named his final seven schools last week and Tennessee made that list. He is fresh off a visit to Penn State, so he is open to going anywhere if he feels it is the right fit. Tennessee is selling their chance for early playing time and the staff’s ability to develop defensive backs to Burrell.
Jaylen McCollough is another prospect who could make a decision in the coming months. Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee look to be the major players at this time. Florida State is still in this one as well. He has visited Knoxville twice in 2018.
Zion Puckett is thought to be high on the Tennessee’s board and the Vols have been checking on him as often as they can. He is in the process of forming a favorites list to make public and Tennessee is expected to be on it. We know Georgia, Ohio State and Stanford will make that list. Puckett is planning to enroll early.
Dante Walker looks to be set on South Carolina and Tennessee. He still has his eye on Florida State, the school his mother played basketball at, but the Seminoles have yet to offer. This looks to be a very tight race right now, but the Vols may hold a slight edge.
VOLQUEST ON TENNESSEE'S GEORGIA STRATEGY
Every program in the Southeast or Midwest should be trying to get into the state of Georgia with so many talented players. Tennessee is no different.
Under Pruitt, the Vols are simply trying to rebuild a previously profitable pipeline back into the Peach State after Phillip Fulmer had great success mining Georgia for players during Tennessee's heyday.
With UT's new staff still getting a feel for the level of talent in the state of Tennessee, the Vols have opted to focus on areas they are most familiar with right now, and that starts with Georgia. Pruitt has a long history recruiting the fertile state, as does Kevin Sherrer, Tracy Rocker, Charles Kelly, Will Friend and Chris Rumph. First-year tight ends coach Brian Niedermeyer also has plenty of ties in various high schools after working at both Georgia and Alabama. That's over half the staff.
The Vols landed just two prospects from the Peach State in Jones’ final recruiting class (Solon Page III, Shawn Shamburger), but Pruitt inked four Georgia players in his inaugural class, including four-star linebacker JJ Peterson. Tennessee was also right in the mix until the end for blue-chip prospects like Quay Walker, Taiyon Palmer and Jaycee Horn.
Tennessee is off to a great start in Georgia in 2018, and while it remains to be seen if it can consistently beat out the Bulldogs or Alabama, Clemson and Auburn for the top talent in the region, the Vols are definitely trying to plant a big orange and white flag in the state. -- Jesse Simonton, Volquest.com
Tennessee will get more 2019 commitments from Georgia. How many is the question.
This is just the beginning too, at least Pruitt and company hope so. Do not expect them to give up on Owen Pappoe, a teammate of Morris’ at Grayson who had the Vols in his top three when he committed to Auburn on May 1.
A lot of underclassmen will have their eye on Knoxville this fall to see how the Vols play, how the coaches coach and what their opportunity could be there in the years to come. There is a buzz in Georgia right now about the Vols, so Pruitt will have a lot of prospects watching him closely this season.