Tennessee Volunteers Football: Final Predictions for National Signing Day
National signing day has finally arrived! The Tennessee Volunteers have been sprinting toward this finish ever since Butch Jones took over on December 7th. What can the Vols expect in terms of signing, flipping and convincing players to ink with the Big Orange tomorrow?
One thing that won't happen, unfortunately, is the signing of Carl Lawson, who was close to becoming a Vol. He stuck it out with Auburn, but there are several other big-time players Tennessee is in good shape with.
For other recruiting junkies out there, don't waste your time trying to watch/listen/Google search for every bit of Tennessee news tomorrow. I'll take care of that for you.
First and foremost, a best-case scenario on national signing day requires that Tennessee sign all of the currently committed players. In addition to that, a best-case scenario would have the Volunteers reeling in:
Vonn Bell, LB, 5-star
EJ Levenberry, LB, 4-star
Johnathan Ford, RB, 4-star
Davin Bellamy, DE, 4-star
Trey Johnson, LB, 4-star
Jaylen Miller, DE, 3-star
Tyler Boyd, WR, 4-star
Malik Brown, DE, 3-star
Josh Dobbs, QB, 4-star
Just short of getting every top player in the class to randomly flip to Tennessee in 48 hours, the above scenario would be the ultimate for Butch Jones' first recruiting class. It would have an excellent shot to finish in the top-10.
In the worst-case scenario, Tennessee misses on all of the aforementioned players except Jaylen Miller, who is the most likely uncommitted player to pick the Vols.
Tennessee would be way under the 27 players they can bring in for 2013. Butch Jones would have the option to offer a slew of Plan Bs and Cs, but either way, the result would be very disappointing.
The Vols would likely finish out of the top-30, potentially in the 40s.
Of the 18 current commits, five have already enrolled at the university. Just 13 remain to be signed on national signing day.
After losing a few Dooley-ites right after taking over, Butch Jones has steadied the ship and confirmed all but one commit -- Dan Skipper. Skipper decided to follow Sam Pittman from Tennessee to Arkansas.
The biggest re-commitment that Jones received was from Memphis' Jason Carr. Carr is a 4-star defensive end who had been drawing interest from Alabama and Ole Miss until he shut down his recruitment for good a couple weeks ago.
Jabo Lee, Tennessee's first running back of the 2013 class, flipped from ECU last night. He had offers from Virginia Tech and Minnesota, among others. Lee immediately helps bring some depth to a thin position for the Vols.
It would be a big surprise to lose any of the current commits.
Inevitably, there are going to be some players flipping from their current committed school to another one on national signing day. Hopefully, the Vols are the beneficiaries instead of the victims of this phenomenon.
Of the potential flippers, here are the ones Tennessee has the best chance of getting:
Malik Brown is committed to Syracuse but has said he'll be deciding between them, USF and Tennessee. He's from Florida and is a defensive lineman, a position in which the Vols could really begin building depth. Likelihood: 65%
EJ Levenberry is a linebacker currently committed to Florida State. If he were to flip, it would be to Tennessee, and I'd say there's a decent chance of that happening. He visited Tennessee last week, so the color orange might still be in his eyes. Likelihood: 50%
Josh Dobbs is yet another prospect that visited Tennessee recently. He is a quarterback from Georiga committed to Arizona State. Though "just" a 3-star, many have said Dobbs could be a program-changer in Butch Jones' offense. Likelihood: 45%
Trey Johnson, committed to Ohio State, is another linebacker prospect. He's from Georgia and committed to the Buckeyes a month ago. However, he visited Tennessee the last week of January, and you always like being the last visit. Likelihood: 35%
Tyler Boyd would be the fifth wide receiver to commit to the Volunteers if he were to flip from Pittsburgh. Also considering West Virginia, Boyd and Tennessee became interested in each other relatively late in the game. Tennessee needs good players no matter the position, but do the Vols need another wide receiver? Likelihood: 20%
There is likely to be a handful of signees that become Vols on National Signing Day that many aren't familiar with. They're role players, vital to your program, but certainly not as sexy as the big names. Those guys are important but not mentioned here.
The main three guys Tennessee would like to persuade:
Vonn Bell, 5-star safety, is from the Chattanooga area. For reasons unbeknownst to me, he was virtually ignored by the previous coaching staff, so the Volunteers got into the game late. Butch Jones' staff impressively got back in the running with Bell and are now the favorites to land the stud over Ohio State and Alabama. Likelihood: 75%
Johnathan Ford was once committed to Vanderbilt but decommitted last month. He's now down to Auburn and Tennessee with the former being the slight favorite. For the Alabama-native, Auburn is closer to home, but you'd be hard-pressed to say he has better chance to get on the field more often as a freshman there. Likelihood: 40%
Davin Bellamy is a highly skilled defensive end whose recruitment has been a carousel, with the favorite always being the last place he visited. Once committed to Florida State, Tennessee took the lead after his visit. Then Georgia. Then Oregon vaulted from being irrelevant to tied for second after his recent visit. Jones might text him a smiley face Wednesday morning just so Tennessee can be the last team to contact him. Likelihood: 30%
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By the end of national signing day, realistic and even some reasonably optimistic fans will be very pleased with what Butch Jones' staff did in less than two months with a program that hasn't had a winning season since 2009.
1) Tennessee will get all the current commits to sign and will add Vonn Bell, Josh Dobbs, Malik Brown and Jaylen Miller.
2) Auburn will snag Johnathan Ford, Florida State will keep EJ Levenberry and Ohio State will hold on to Trey Johnson. Tyler Boyd will stick with Pittsburgh.
3) Davin Bellamy will continue providing us entertainment and wait to see what happens on Wednesday before making his decision. That's not a bad scenario for the Volunteers because they could put all their focus on him.
4) Tennessee will end up just outside the top-15 at No. 16. Not bad for a 2013 recruiting class that was ranked 47th as recently as a week after Jones took over.