Jeremy Pruitt accomplished part of the first step in the process to rebuild Tennessee’s football program during the 2017 recruiting cycle. Next up is making sure the state’s best players choose Knoxville.
On that front, he has a lot of work in front of him.
In 2018, there were 11 four-star in-state prospects and the Vols signed four. They infamously missed out on five-star legacy prospect Cade Mays, who was the top prospect in the state. Each of the state’s top three recruits and four of the top six went out of state: two to Ohio State and one each to Alabama and Georgia.
Tennessee signed only three of the top 10 in-state recruits in 2017, where there were nine four-star prospects. That year, LSU signed two of the state’s top four and Clemson signed two of the top seven.
It was even worse in 2016, when the Vols signed just two of the state’s top 10 — the same number as Ole Miss.
Not since 2014, when the Vols brought in nine of the state’s top 11 prospects, has this program truly dominated on its home soil.
The 2019 in-state class looks to be especially deep. A year away from the 2019 National Signing Day, Tennessee has 18 four-star prospects and only two have committed — one to LSU, one to Tennessee (guard Jackson Lampley).
Here’s a look at 2019’s top 10 prospects in the Volunteer State:
The particulars: Wilhoite (6-2.5, 180 pounds) is a four-star wide receiver from Nashville Franklin Road Academy.
The skinny: Wilhoite is a national top-125 prospect who received a Tennessee offer in March 2016 and clearly would be a major addition for Pruitt and the Vols. But it won’t be easy. Ohio State, Clemson and Florida State have worked their way into contention to sign Wilhoite.
The particulars: Hampton (5-11, 190 pounds) is a four-star cornerback from Memphis University School.
The skinny: He is an LSU commitment and already appears out of reach for Tennessee. Hampton, considered one of the top-10 corners in the class, committed to LSU in July 2016.
The particulars: Norton (6-6, 270 pounds) is a four-star defensive end from Memphis Christian Brothers.
The skinny: Another prospect who’s going to test Pruitt’s recruiting abilities because several other schools in contention have been a whole lot more successful than the Vols – teams like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Notre Dame, the most recent program to extend an offer. Norton is a national top-150 recruit.
The particulars: Washington (5-11, 175 pounds) is a four-star cornerback from Murfreesboro Oakland.
The skinny: Washington received an offer from Tennessee in August, and his recruitment has continued to expand, with offers from Alabama, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M and more. He is a national top-175 prospect overall and a top-15 cornerback.
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