Tennessee Football Recruiting: Vols' Top Priorities on National Signing Day
National signing day is quickly approaching, and the Tennessee Volunteers are hoping to wrap up a solid class of recruits. Butch Jones and company have done a nice job over a short period of time after having been dealt a bad situation. They've definitely addressed their top priorities.
The Vols lost some offensive talent at the skill positions but otherwise are in good shape for 2013. Their national signing day priorities are filling positions that will become vacant in 2014 and snagging a few prospects that could have immediate impact within units that only have a couple major contributors.
Besides dealing with anxiety all day, I'll be writing, reporting, tweeting, live blogging and everything else you can think of for Tennessee on national signing day.
Stay close to Bleacher Report on February 6, and I'll make sure you know the news.
After signing zero offensive linemen in 2012, the Volunteers definitely need to secure a handful for 2013. Sure, Tennessee is set at offensive line...for this year.
Three seniors and two juniors (one could leave early) make up arguably the best SEC line this fall. Get excited about them, but prepare for when they leave.
Right now, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Kyler Kerbyson and Alan Posey are the most likely candidates to start in 2014, but that leaves one open spot and Posey isn't a guarantee. There's also very little depth behind them.
Suffice it to say, the Vols need some offensive linemen!
Targets: Christan Morris
Prediction: If the Volunteers can finalize their four commitments, they've done a good job restocking the offensive line cupboard. Morris to UCLA.
Tennessee is absolutely loaded at safety. Brian Randolph and Byron Moore will become one of the best, if not the best duo in the country this fall, and their backups are no slouches.
LaDarrell McNeil and Brent Brewer could be their own starting safety duo on another team. Vonn Bell is another big-time safety prospect that could join the bunch, too.
Cornerbacks are a little different. After Justin Coleman and Eric Gordon, the Volunteers' corners fall off quickly. But Lemond Johnson and Riyahd Jones are two early enrollees that Butch Jones flipped to Tennessee that provide immediate depth at cornerback.
Unless Tennessee stays completely healthy, cornerbacks will be a need for the next couple years.
Commitments: Cameron Sutton
Targets: There isn't much chatter about any cornerbacks for the Vols.
Prediction: Sutton will sign on and join Johnson and Jones to make up a respectable class. This will certainly be an area of need in 2014.
Going into the fall, Tennessee will be trotting out two experienced solid running backs: Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal.
While both are dependable, neither provides the spark that an SEC offense needs to be successful. It only takes one back like Todd Gurley or Mike Gillislee to make your team a contender in the East, especially when Jay Graham is the position coach.
After Lane and Neal, the depth chart falls to scatback Devrin Young, redshirt freshman Alden Hill and Tom Smith. In other words, the Volunteers would love to get a strong running back commit, but it's not quite a must.
It will be a must next year if one isn't gotten this year.
Commitments: None (Devaun Swafford grayshirt)
Prediction: No running backs in 2013, unless a late offer is made to bulk up the depth.
Tennessee is blessed with two highly talented junior linebackers that have two full years of starting experience under their belts. AJ Johnson and Curt Maggitt have bright futures in football ahead of them.
But with the departure Herman Lathers, there is a gaping whole on one side of the linebackers set. Senior Dontavis Sapp and redshirt freshmen Kenny Bynum and LaTroy Lewis are the likely candidates from the current roster to fill in.
Early enrollees Corey Vereen and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (after a year or so) provide more depth, albeit youthful. After those guys, the roster is filled with special team-type linebackers. The Volunteers would do well to reel in a couple more of these versatile players.
Prediction: Levenberry signs on, though, this might the position that's the biggest wild card. There's a scenario where Tennessee gets all three and an equally likely one where it strikes out.
Who was the last dominant defensive lineman for the Vols? Was it Robert Ayers or Justin Harrell? To me, you have to go back to Jesse Mahelona, the last Tennessee defensive lineman to be named an All-American.
The Volunteers are long overdue for a few game-changing linemen and need to snag a few in this year's class. Daniel McCullers and Maurice Couch are the starters in the middle with redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien, Marlon Walls and Alan Carson backing up.
Jacques Smith has one end spot, but the other is fairly open. Walls, Corey Miller and Trevarris Saulsberry are a few possibilities, but a talented freshmen could certainly be in the mix for playing time.
The Volunteers need to find that next great pass-rusher.
Commitments: Jason Carr
Prediction: Miller will be a Vol, joining Carr.