Having top-flight wide receivers adorning a roster has become increasingly important as offenses continue to emphasize the pass more than ever, and the Tennessee Volunteers are hoping they've just landed their next star.
According to Chad Simmons of Fox Sports, 4-star wide receiver prospect Josh Malone has announced his intention to attend Tennessee:
Malone cannot officially sign with Tennessee until the national signing period begins in February. This is merely a declaration of intent, not a contractual agreement. At any point between now and signing his national letter of intent Malone can reopen his recruiting process without harming his eligibility for next season.
Nevertheless, the Volunteers certainly hope Malone doesn't change his mind because they just won a pretty big recruiting battle. Malone's offers included many top universities from around the nation, including Notre Dame, Ohio State and Florida State. He received offers from no fewer than 30 major-conference programs, per 247Sports.
A 6'2.5" wideout out of Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tenn., it's not hard to see why so many teams were fussing over him. He's one of the highest-potential talents among receivers in this class. 247Sports' composite rankings place Malone as the second-best players in the state of Tennessee and fifth-best receiver in the Class of 2014.
Anyone who has watched tape on Malone would note his potential is far greater than that.
Though highly sought after by top schools, Malone is still very much a project as a receiver. His route-running needs a ton of work, almost to the point it's hard seeing him being productive as a freshman. And with only average football awareness at this point, he'll need some work in the film room and the right infrastructure for his college career to work out.
If Malone has found that school in Tennessee, then the Volunteers may have found a star in the making. For all of his noted areas of development, Malone is a physical marvel. He can leap up in a crowd to bring down passes, has explosive acceleration and is especially productive creating yards after the catch.
All of the physical tools are there for him to be a real force, with the possible exception of elite speed. But considering he's only scratching the surface of his prodigious talents, Butch Jones will be more than glad nurturing him for at least the next three years.