What does Jeremy Pruitt’s first recruiting class look like? One thing is for sure: It’s a whole lot better than many Vols fans feared during the turmoil and chaos of early December.
Now that National Signing Day has arrived, here’s a look at every player heading to Knoxville, both those making their decisions official Wednesday as well as those who joined Tennessee during the new early signing period in December.
Recruiting editor Ryan Green on the class
New coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff put together a solid class, considering how little time with which they had to work. The biggest win for Tennessee was getting four-star WR Alontae Taylor, potentially a big-time playmaker, back into the fold. Taylor had been committed to Tennessee for more than a year before decommitting following the firing of Butch Jones. Four-star LB J.J. Peterson is the highest-ranked recruit in the class, and UT was able to hold off Alabama for his signature. Peterson and four-star DTs Greg Emerson and Brant Lawless lead what looks to be good defensive class heading to Knoxville. Given UT’s recent issues on defense, if the signees live up to billing, they will be on the field this fall. Grade: B
WEDNESDAY SIGNEES (6)
S Trevon Flowers: Flowers (6 feet 1, 185 pounds) is a three-star recruit from Tucker (Ga.) High, in the Atlanta suburbs. His recruiting profile increased after the early signing period, and his other visits were to Clemson and Kentucky. He also is a good baseball player — he had committed to Kentucky for baseball — who may be selected in the baseball draft in June.
DE Kurott Garland: Garland (6-3, 250 pounds) is a three-star prospect from Conyers (Ga.) Heritage, in the Atlanta suburbs. He was a late riser on UT’s recruiting board and didn’t receive an offer until mid-January. His other FBS offers were Tulane and Coastal Carolina.
DT Emmit Gooden: Gooden (6-4, 295 pounds) is a four-star JC recruit from Independence (Kan.) CC. He is a native of Brownsville, Tenn., who was committed to UT, then Mississippi State in high school. Academic issues sent him to junior college. His half-brother, Jarvis Varnado, played basketball at Mississippi State and in the NBA. He chose the Vols over West Virginia, and given the Vols’ spotty play against the run, Gooden’s bulk likely will be put to good use this fall.
DE John Mincey: Mincey (6-4, 255 pounds) is a three-star prospect from Homerville (Ga.) Clinch County. Mincey had been committed to Arkansas before decommitting in January, and he ultimately picked the Vols over South Carolina on National Signing Day.
OLB J.J. Peterson: Peterson (6-2, 231 pounds) is a four-star prospect from Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County, a perennial power in Georgia. He is a national top-50 prospect and is the Vols’ marquee recruit this cycle. He committed to the Vols on January 12 and stuck with Tennessee over Alabama in a major pickup for Pruitt.
WR Cedric Tillman: Tillman (6-3, 205 pounds) is a three-star prospect from powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. He wasn’t offered by the Vols until late in the process and was seen as a backup prospect. But he has good size and comes from one of the best prep programs in the nation. His other FBS offers were Hawaii and UNLV.
DECEMBER SIGNEES (14)
OLB Jordan Allen: Allen (6 feet 5, 230 pounds), a one-time TCU commitment, chose Tennessee on the first day of the early signing period. He is a native of Fairfield, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay area, and is from City College of San Francisco. He is a three-star prospect who is a national top-15 JC recruit. Allen already is enrolled.
OT Tanner Antonutti: Antonutti (6-5, 260 pounds) is a three-star prospect from Nashville Ensworth. Antonutti, a top-25 recruit in Tennessee, committed to the Volunteers on July 30 and stuck.
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