Tennessee Volunteers Football

Tennessee Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

Brad ShepardFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2013

Tennessee Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones has shocked the recruiting world with his first-year class as he attempts to build Volunteer football back to what it once was.

    Now, with 34 verbal commitments in the fold and many of the nation's elite teams trying to get in prospects' ears and flip them with the Vols sitting at home again this postseason, the last two months before national signing day is mostly about maintenance.

    Jones is trying to keep together a class currently ranked sixth by 247Sports. But there are a few big fish and a couple of more needs the Vols are trying to fill to wrap things up in the 2014 cycle.

    UT has one of the nation's best and deepest classes, but it needs to finish strong as well. If so, this really could be the group of players who begin Tennessee's ascent back into the SEC picture.

    If you can't get enough of Tennessee football and the recruiting class expected to start Jones' turnaround, consider this to be your "one stop shop" with frequent, daily updates.

    You'll find all the news, analysis and updates on commitments and targets that you'll ever need, right here.

    All 2013 recruiting information via 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

Latest News

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    Update: Michael Sawyers has committed to Tennessee, according to GoVols247's Wes Rucker (subscription required).

    Update: Cory Thomas flips from UT to Mississippi State, per a tweet from MSU 247Sports writer Paul Jones.

    Update: All UT signees besides the ones mentioned are signed and have National Letters of Intent in the house.

    End Update: 2/5/2014

    Update: Michael Sawyers will announce for UT or Ole Miss tomorrow at 10:15 CST. Cory Thomas is down to UT, Miss State and Clemson. Those should be the only two surprises.

    Update: Orlando Brown won't be a part of Tennessee's class due to grades, per Volquest.com.

    Update: Jerome Dews tweeted he will be headed to prep school.

    End Update: 2/4/2014

    Update: According to USA Today High School sports, Dewayne Hendrix is still committed to Tennessee, which ends his flirtation with Missouri.

    Update: Michael Sawyers is scheduled to visit UT this weekend, and if he does, the Vols will be right in the mix along with Ole Miss and Georgia Tech.

    End Update: 1/30/2014

    Update: 5-star defensive back and UT's top remaining target Adoree' Jackson tweeted out his four finalists, and the Vols were not among them.

    End Update: 1/29/2014

    Update: 4-star defensive end Dewayne Hendrix's mom told GoVols247's Ryan Callahan on Monday night that "…at this point, we think that the best thing for him is to stay committed to the University of Tennessee." Hendrix had visited Missouri this past weekend, which was a major concern to UT's coaching staff trying to hang onto him in the final two weeks before national signing day.

    Update: 4-star defensive tackle Michael Sawyers of Nashville tweeted last night that "Tennessee is one of my top schools." UT was thought to be dead in that race, but he still could visit Knoxville before national signing day. The former Vanderbilt commit is also considering Ole Miss, Notre Dame and others.

    Update: UT is expected to host commitment Cory Thomas this upcoming weekend. It will be a huge visit for the Vols to hang onto him. Thomas has visited Mississippi State and Clemson the past two weekends, and the Bulldogs are believed to be a major threat.

    End Update: 1/28/2014

    Update: One of the Vols' biggest, most important targets committed to them on Monday afternoon when 4-star running back Derrell Scott of Havelock, N.C., chose UT over South Carolina and Florida. Here is the GoVols247 story detailing the commitment (subscription required).

    Update: UT also received a commitment from in-state long snapper Wesley Horky of Ravenwood. According to Kohl's Professional Camps, he is the top-ranked long snapper in the country. He will be an invited walk-on at UT and had that same opportunity at Oklahoma. He participated in the Under Armour All-America Game. Horky told Callahan coaches told him he will have an opportunity to win a scholarship next year.

    End Update: 1/27/2014

    Update: Sports Talk South Carolina is tweeting that a source is telling them 4-star running back Derrell Scott will pick Tennessee over South Carolina on Monday. Scott is supposed to announce his decision around 3:15 on Monday and has hosted coaches from both programs in the past two days.

    Update: Rivals' Woody Wommack reported today that Michael Sawyers will not visit Tennessee on Jan. 31 as was previously expected.

    End Update: 1/24/2014

    Update: US Army All-Amercian linebacker Kevin Mouhon decommitted from Tennessee, per his Twitter account.

    Update: Ryan Callahan of GoVols247 is reporting that it looks like Wisconsin defensive tackle commit Craig Evans won't be visiting UT this weekend.

    Update: 4-star DE Dewayne Hendrix told Callahan he's visiting Missouri this weekend, but he's 100 percent committed to UT.

    Update: The Vols had their in-home visit with 4-star running back Derrell Scott on Wednesday night. The Gamecocks are scheduled to have their in-home today. There have been no reports on how the visit went.

    End update: 1/23/2014

    Update:  LSU commitment Darrel Williams told GoVols247's Ryan Callahan (subscription), he's planning on visiting UT this upcoming weekend. According to Volquest's Paul Fortenberry and Brent Hubbs (subscription), Williams, Wisconsin DT commit Craig Evans, and commitments RaShaan Gaulden, Vic Wharton, Todd Kelly Jr., and Derek Barnett are all scheduled to be in Knoxville this upcoming weekend, too.

    Update:  Four-star linebacker Gavin Bryant officially visited Knoxville this past weekend and told GoVols247's Ryan Callahan (subscription) that he'd solidified his commitment and didn't think he'd visit anymore schools.

    Update: The news hasn't been as good on 4-star linebacker Kevin Mouhon, who visited Cincinnati this past weekend where his brother Silverberry attends. According to the Bearcats' 247Sports site reporter Tim Adams (subscripiton), Mouhon's visit went well, and there is a chance he flips from UT to UC.

    End Update: 1/21/2014

    Update:  Today is when UT's coaches have an in-home visit with Adoree' Jackson and his family in the St. Louis area, according to GoVols247's Ryan Callahan. This is a risk for Butch Jones using the visit this early, but he and his coaches are getting to talk to the 5-star cornerback while he's with his family before he goes back to school in California.

    Update: UT LB commit Gavin Bryant is scheduled to be in Knoxville on his official visit this weekend. With Miami charging hard in his recruitment, this is a big weekend to solidify the Alabama 'backer.

    End Update: 1/16/2014

    Update: According to Ryan Callahan of GoVols247 (subscription), the Vols received their 34th commitment of the 2014 recruiting class when former Vanderbilt pledge Jashon Robertson committed to UT. He'd recently picked up an offer from Notre Dame. Robertson can play DT or OG.

    Update: Receiver/athlete Isaiah McKenzie told Volquest's Paul Fortenberry (subscription) that Florida and Ole Miss would receive two of his official visits, and UT was battling Notre Dame and Oregon for the final one.

    End Update: 1/15/2014

    Update:  ESPN RecruitingNation tweeted today that 4-star running back Derrell Scott will announce his decision on Jan. 27. The Vols have an in-home visit scheduled for Jan. 22, and South Carolina has one with him on Jan. 23.

    Update:  Tennessee is definitely targeting three former Vanderbilt commitments (read below). Previous VU DT pledge Jashon Robertson tweeted today that he received an offer from UT (RT by Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Patrick Brown). Robertson is very close to UT running back commit Jalen Hurd.

    Update: Volquest's John Brice reported Sunday night (subscription) that in-state defensive tackle Michael Sawyers, a Vanderbilt commit, is expected to visit UT some time in the next three weeks.

    Update: Brice also did a video interview with Vanderbilt SS/OLB commit Emmanuel Smith (subscription), who noted he expected to take an official visit to Ole Miss the weekend of Jan. 31, and while he didn't have a set date for one to UT, he planned to visit Knoxville again.

    Update: UT's early enrollee conundrum cleared up over the weekend as defensive end Joe Henderson did not make the grades to enroll mid-term, and the NCAA cleared athlete Neiko Creamer to do so, according to GoVols247's Ryan Callahan (subscription). UT must re-recruit Henderson, who has given no indications he's looking around. Creamer and JUCO OT Dontavius Blair are expected to start classes today to go along with the other 12 EEs. Creamer was tabbed as one of Bleacher Report's top sleeper recruits in the country. Watch the video here.

    Update: Adam Kramer, Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder tabbed Tennessee's class the most surprising in the country. Watch the video here.

    End Update 1/13/2014

    Update:  With James Franklin reportedly heading to Penn State, according to CBSSports' Bruce Feldman, Tennessee could become major factors for a couple of in-state VU commits. The most likely is SS/OLB Emmanuel Smith of Murfreesboro, according to GoVols247's Ryan Callahan. Another possibility is DT Michael Sawyers, according to Rivals' Woody Wommack (subscription).

    End Update 1/9/2014

    Update:  Courtney Garnett told Volquest's Paul Fortenberry that he will visit Oklahoma on Jan. 17 and Tennessee on Jan. 24. Garnett is the Texas defensive tackle commit looking around.

    End Update 1/8/2014

    Update: Wisconsin commitment Craig Evans played alongside UT commitment Charles Mosley at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl this past week. After a week of being recruited by Mosley, the 6'3", 305-pound defensive tackle told Volquest.com's Brent Hubbs that he will visit UT on January 24. Evans reaffirmed his commitment to the Badgers last week, but he is going to give UT a look and seems interested.

    Update: Texas 247 reporter Colt Barber spoke to defensive tackle Courtney Garnett, and he said he is not sure if he would consider himself a Longhorns commit at this time. He said the Vols and Oklahoma have been in contact with him.

    End Update 1/7/2014

    Update: According to Tennessee's Scout site, the Vols are one of the two finalists for Marietta (Ga.) CB DJ Smith, along with South Carolina. The Gamecocks are believed by most experts to be the favorite.

    Update: Volquest.com's Paul Fortenberry (subscription) is reporting that TE Ethan Wolf, TE Daniel Helm, LB Jakob Johnson, DL Damarya Mixon, CB D'Andre Payne, WR Lavon Pearson, CB Emmanuel Moseley and OL Coleman Thomas are all in Knoxville set to be early enrollees. Fortenberry said WR Josh Malone and Jalen Hurd are expected in today. DT Owen Williams and OT Dontavius Blair will be in this week. Besides that group, UT can have one more early enrollee to get to 14. Joe Henderson and Neiko Creamer are both trying to finish up classwork to get in mid-term.

    End Update 1/6/2014

    Update:  Tennessee's top target, 5-star CB Adoree' Jackson, released his top six schools today via his Twitter account, and the Vols made the cut. His final six are Tennessee, Florida, USC, Oklahoma, LSU and UCLA. Florida State being left out was a bit of a surprise.

    Update: Penn State commitment DeAndre Thompkins reaffirmed his pledge to the Nittany Lions and is expected to be a mid-term enrollee, thus ending his flirtation with the Vols.

    End Update 1/5/2014

    Update:  Jitterbug receiver/running back Isaiah McKenzie tweeted that he received an offer from Tennessee. The speedster exploded in the Under Armour All-America game with a 75-yard kickoff return and 25-yard punt return. He is a name to watch for the Vols moving forward, but Notre Dame has some momentum there if he can qualify.

    Update: Derrell Scott, who is one of UT's two biggest remaining targets, received an offer this week from Florida and wasted no time setting up an official visit. Scott grew up liking the Gators, and UF defensive coordinator DJ Durkin has a track record of recruiting success in North Carolina. Florida joins Tennessee and South Carolina in the race for Scott's signature.

    End Update 1/3/2014

    Update: Tennessee target Travis Rudolph committed to Florida State at the Under Armour All-America Game, choosing the Seminoles over Alabama and Tennessee, among others, according to Al.com's Matt Scalici.

    End Update 1/2/2014

    Update: Star athlete Bo Scarbrough told Volquest.com's Paul Fortenberry (subscription) that Tennessee is in contention for one of his two final official visits, giving the Vols a slim shred of hope. He said UT, Florida, Florida State and Oklahoma are all in contention for those visits.

    Update: According to an update from 247Sports' Luke Stampini, the Vols have contacted Penn State wide receiver commit DeAndre Thompkins with the news that Bill O'Brien is leaving PSU to coach the Houston Texans. North Carolina is also believed to be a major player for the Swansboro, N.C. product.

    Update: UT 4-star linebacker commitment Kevin Mouhon told GoVols247's Ryan Callahan that he may take one more visit before national signing day, and it would be to Cincinnati "just for" his brother, Silverberry, who plays there. He said he remains a firm commit.

    End update 1/1/2014

    Update: Here is a list of UT commitments and targets in all-star games:

    • LB Dillon Bates and PK Aaron Medley are in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2, 4 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN. Also playing in that game are UT targets Adoree' Jackson, Travis Rudolph and Bo Scarborough.
    • In the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, S Todd Kelly Jr., WR Josh Malone and LB Kevin Mouhon will be participating. RB Jalen Hurd was invited but can't play due to the shoulder injury he suffered earlier in the season. That game will be played Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. on NBC. 
    • In the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, UT commits DT/OL Charles Mosley, DL Derek Barnett, TE Daniel Helm, S Cortez McDowell, CB Emmanuel Moseley, DL Cory Thomas and ATH Vic Wharton are playing. UT target DE Andrew Williams is also playing. That game will be played Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN3.
    • Also in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which will be played Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. on Fox Sports 1, UT commitments OT Orlando Brown, DB RaShaan Gaulden and DE Dewayne Hendrix will be participating. Vols targets who will be playing are OT Benjamin Knox and RB Derrell Scott.

    Update: UT legacy commitment Dillon Bates made Rivals.com's "top performer" list (subscription) from the first day of practice at the Under Armour All-America Game.

    According to the write-up:

    Bates wasn't the biggest linebacker on the practice field but really made an impact in Sunday's practice. The offense was trying to run a lot of slants but Bates showed great anticipation by jumping the routes and coming up with a few interceptions. Bates always seemed to be in good position, played under control and was very disciplined. 

    Update: Though many believe the Vols to have just an outside shot to land 5-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson, he told 247Sports' Shea Dixon (subscription) on Saturday that UT has "a legit shot" to land his commitment. He said Florida, Florida State, LSU, UT and USC stand out to him right now.

    Update: According to Auburn's Rivals affiliate writer Justin Hokanson (subscription) DaVonte Lambert, who flipped from UT to AU on JUCO signing day, is ineligible to enroll at Auburn for this semester and will attempt to qualify by the summer. This voids his signing and makes him an eligible prospect to re-recruit.

    End update 12/29/13

    Update: After stealing DaVonte Lambert from UT at the last moment, Auburn continues its raid on the Vols' commitment list. They continue to call JUCO LB Chris Weatherd, and, according to GoVols247's Ryan Callahan, Alabama high school linebacker Gavin Bryant is being pursued by AU.

    Though the Tigers haven't offered, Bryant said he'd have to give Auburn a look if they did, but he's still "pretty much 100 percent with Tennessee." Miami also has contacted him.

    Update: The Vols signed three junior college players on Dec. 18 who they believe will help immediately. Defensive tackle Owen Williams, offensive tackle Dontavius Blair and receiver Lavon Pearson all will be enrolling mid-term.

    Update: UT is expected to ramp up the pressure on Benjamin Knox and Derrick Kelly Jr. after top offensive line target Alex Bookser committed to Pitt last week over the Vols and Ohio State. Knox, who was recently offered by the Vols, is a cousin of UT running back Marlin Lane.

    Update: Various future Vols tweeted their UT jersey numbers recently. Among those, Jalen Hurd said he'd wear No. 1, and Todd Kelly Jr. noted he will be No. 6.

Quarterbacks

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Targets:  None.

     

    Already Committed: None

     

    Analysis:

    The Vols signed two signal-callers last year in 247Sports 4-star Joshua Dobbs and 3-star Riley Ferguson, and they're carrying four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster who'll return in 2014. While the position wasn't a priority in the class, that doesn't mean UT didn't try.

    Targets like DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame) and David Cornwell (Alabama) committed elsewhere, and Butch Jones didn't reach for one the Vols didn't love in this class.

    Tennessee ramped up the heat on McClendon late, but the North Carolina State commitment has never really wavered on the Wolfpack. The Vols would love to sway him and get him on campus to have a shot, but that seems like a long shot. He's really the only target remaining.

    If UT doesn't sign a QB this year—which seems likely—look for the Vols to sign two in the 2015 class.

Running Backs

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    Jalen Hurd is expected to be the future of the RB position at UT.
    Jalen Hurd is expected to be the future of the RB position at UT.247Sports

    Targets:  None

     

    Already Committed:

    Jalen Hurd, 4-star RB, ATH; 6'3", 230 lbs

    2013 stats: He had 20 carries for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Station Camp High according to MaxPreps but tore his labrum and missed the rest of the season, according to Ryan Callahan of GoVols247 (subscription).

    All-Star Game: U.S. Army All-American Bowl (Did not play; injured)

     

    Derrell Scott, 4-star all-purpose RB; 5'11", 180 lbs; 4.55 40-yard time (247Sports)

    2013 stats: He had 2,148 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns and finished with more than 6,000 career rushing yards. He led Havelock to a state championship as a senior. He was named a second-team All-American by 247Sports.

    All-Star Game: Semper Fi All-American Bowl

     

    Treyvon Paulk, 3-star RB; 5'9", 200 lbs; 4.60 40-yard time

     

    Analysis:

    The jewel of Tennessee's 2014 recruiting class is in-state star Hurd, who set state rushing records as a junior before an early-season injury forced him to miss his senior season. The Vols love Hurd's ability as a running back and will look to build its offense around him.

    Paulk also missed much of his final high school season with a knee injury according to VolQuest's Austin Price (subscription), but he said his rehab is ahead of schedule. Hurd assuredly will be ready for spring drills, but Paulk's status remains up in the air.

    The Vols received a huge late-in-the-game commitment when Scott pledged to them over South Carolina and Florida. Not only did it keep him away from division rivals, it gave UT a versatile, talented runner who will come in and immediately compete for playing time.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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    Tennessee got another major coup in-state with Josh Malone.
    Tennessee got another major coup in-state with Josh Malone.247Sports

    Targets:   None

     

    Already Committed:

    Josh Malone, 4-star WR; 6'3", 190 lbs; 4.49 40-yard time (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 71 REC, 1,404 YD, 19 TD, 23 CAR, 277 YD, 3 TDs

    Participated in U.S. Army All-American Bowl; did not catch a pass

     

    Lavon Pearson, 4-star WR; 6'1", 180 lbs; 4.48 40-yard time (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 93 REC, 1,601 YD, 12 TD

     

    Vic Wharton, 3-star ATH 6'0", 188 lbs (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 519 RUYD, 9 RUTD, 56 REC, 1,039 RECYD, 9 RECTD, 2 PRTD, 3 KRTD, 45 pass YD, 1 pass TD, 48 TACK, 6 INT

    Participated in Offense/Defense All-American Bowl

     

    Neiko Creamer, 3-star ATH; 6'3", 220 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Daniel Helm, 4-star TE; 6'4", 230 lbs (247Sports)

    Participated in Offense/Defense All-American Bowl; did not catch a pass

     

    Ethan Wolf, 3-star TE; 6'5.5", 235 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Analysis:

    After a woefully inconsistent season for UT pass-catchers, the Vols have really gone out and done a stellar job meeting needs in this area in the 2014 class.

    Jones believes he has commitments from at least two receivers who appear to be poised to come in and compete immediately for playing time in Malone and Pearson, a junior college standout who put up PlayStation-esque numbers.

    Those two guys will compete for the starting spot opposite Marquez North. Wharton is going to start out his UT career as a slot receiver, and the Vols also will begin Creamer's career on offense, though he could grow into a defender if necessary.

    Two of UT's top tight end targets also will be part of this class in Helm and Wolf. Helm is one of the best pass-catching TEs in the country, and Wolf is an excellent blocker, so the Vols have met major talent needs there. This crop of pledges can rival any in the nation, and it will bode well for whoever wins the quarterback job.

Offensive Line

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    Coleman Thomas is one of the most underrated players in UT's class.
    Coleman Thomas is one of the most underrated players in UT's class.247Sports

    Targets: None.

     

    Already Committed:

    Dontavius Blair, 4-star OT, 6'8", 302 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Orlando Brown, 3-star OT, 6'8", 340 lbs (247Sports)

    Participated in Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl  

     

    Coleman Thomas, 3-star OT, 6'6", 297 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Ray Raulerson, 3-star OG, 6'4", 278 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Analysis:

    Even with four commitments, Tennessee has still probably fallen short an exterior lineman in this class, thanks to Derek Dooley going all of 2011 without signing a single offensive lineman.

    UT lost all five starting offensive linemen to the NFL, and playing time is up for grabs. Though the Vols have some talent on the interior, both tackle spots have suspect depth. That's why the signing of Blair—a JUCO mid-term signee—was so huge. The Vols also coveted Avery Gennesy, a JUCO OT who signed with Texas A&M.

    Thomas is expected to start out at tackle along with Brown, but Brown's body is still a project, and he almost assuredly will need a redshirt year. The Vols like the long-term ability of this line class, but they need immediate-impact guys and fell just short. 

Defensive Line

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    Derek Barnett's versatility is what makes him a special player.
    Derek Barnett's versatility is what makes him a special player.247Sports

    Targets:  

    Michael Sawyers, 4-star DT; 6'2", 300 lbs (247Sports)

    Biggest competition for commitment: Ole Miss, Georgia Tech

     

    Already Committed:

    Jashon Robertson, 6'3", 280 lbs (247Sports)

    2013 stats: 74 tackles, 14 TFL, 4 sacks, 5 PBUs

     

    Michael Sawyers, 4-star DT; 6'2", 300 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Derek Barnett, 4-star SDE; 6'3.5", 265 lbs (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 66 tackles, 5.5 sacks

    Participated in Offense-Defense All-American Bowl 

     

    Dewayne Hendrix4-star SDE; 6'5", 254 lbs (247Sports)

    Participated in Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl 

     

    Charles Mosley, 4-star DT; 6'5", 350 lbs (247Sports)

    Participated in Offense-Defense All-American Bowl 

     

    Owen Williams, 3-star DT; 6'1", 280 lbs; 4.85 40-yard time (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 50 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 1 FF

     

    Joe Henderson, 3-star WDE; 6'3", 228 lbs; 4.76 40-yard time (247Sports)

     

    Dimarya Mixon, 3-star DT; 6'3.5", 265 lbs; 4.90 40-yard time (247Sports)

     

    Analysis:

    There have been several defensive line targets emerge for the Vols with the growing interest of Evans as well as James Franklin's departure from Vanderbilt to Penn State opening up the possibility of poaching a couple of Commodores commitments.

    One of those pledged on the night of Jan. 15 as Jashon Robertson flipped from VU to the Vols. He can play either defensive tackle or offensive guard, much like Mosley.

    As far as the other players aboard, UT hopes there is strength in numbers and versatility. 

    Williams is expected to come in and compete immediately for a spot on the interior of the line, but the Vols desperately need the others to be ready quickly after the entire starting line from 2013 is out of eligibility.

    Players like Thomas and Barnett may grow into defensive tackles, and others like Hendrix and Henderson may be needed to rush the passer on the outside. The Vols suffered a major defection last week when 4-star JUCO DE DaVonte Lambert flipped to Auburn, and Tennessee needs to replicate his impact somehow.

Linebackers

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    Dillon Bates could play immediately because of his elite tackling and coverage ability.
    Dillon Bates could play immediately because of his elite tackling and coverage ability.247Sports

    Targets: None.

     

    Already Committed:

    Dillon Bates, 4-star OLB; 6'3", 220 lbs; 4.51 40-yard time (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 81 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INT (maxpreps.com)

    Participated in Under Armour All-America Game 

     

    Chris Weatherd, 4-star OLB; 6'3.5", 220 lbs (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 24 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FF

     

    Gavin Bryant, 4-star ILB; 6'2", 235 lbs; 4.60 40-yard time (247Sports)

     

    Jakob Johnson, 3-star ILB; 6'3.5", 236 lbs; 4.80 40-yard time (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 93 tackles, 15 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 FF

     

    Elliott Berry, 3-star ATH; 5'11", 191 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Jerome Dews, 3-star OLB; 6'3", 200 lbs (247Sports)

     

    Analysis:

    This is another position where the Vols have loaded up in numbers and talent. To have seven players at one position is a lot, but they are certainly needed for a corps that is losing at least two starters and needs a serious upgrade in speed and talent.

    Bates and Johnson are the cream of the class at the spot, but there are a lot of other intriguing players beginning with JUCO outside linebacker Weatherd and a player like Bryant, who has as high an upside as anybody else in the class.

    UT really has a lot of options moving forward at linebacker.

Defensive Backs

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    Todd Kelly Jr. is going to follow in his father's footsteps at UT
    Todd Kelly Jr. is going to follow in his father's footsteps at UT247Sports

    Targets:  None.

     

    Already Committed:

    Todd Kelly Jr., 4-star S; 6'1", 190 lbs (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 72 tackles, 7 pass deflections, 3 INT, 3 TDs (according to Knoxville News-Sentinel)

    Participated in U.S. Army All-American Bowl

     

    Cortez McDowell, 4-star S; 6'1", 200 lbs (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 43 REC, 516 YD, 7 TD. 92 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 INT, 3 FF, 2 FR (maxpreps.com)

    Participated in Offense-Defense All-American Bowl 

     

    D'Andre Payne, 4-star CB; 5'9.5", 175 lbs

     

    Evan Berry, 4-star ATH; 5'11", 195 lbs; 4.56 40-yard time (247Sports)

     

    RaShaan Gaulden, 3-star S/CB; 6'1", 178 lbs (247Sports)

    2013 Stats: 207 tackles, 4 INT, 3 FF

    Participated in Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl 

     

    Emmanuel Moseley, 3-star CB; 6'0", 160 lbs; 4.35 40-yard time. (247Sports)

    Participated in Offense-Defense All-American Bowl 

     

    Analysis:

    Tennessee has one of the best safety tandem commitments in the nation, and that is a major coup considering all the help UT needs in the secondary.

    The Vols also stand to upgrade their depth considerably at cornerback, especially if Evan Berry stays at the position rather than settles on offense. Gaulden appears to be the perfect nickelback, blessed with the speed to play the position and also the ability to be an elite tackler.

    Payne is a shutdown corner with excellent speed, and Moseley is a project with a huge upside who likely won't be ready to contribute right away. The Vols have at least an outside shot to land elite corner Jackson, but the track program is likely working against them. He wants to do both in college.

    UT needs to keep McDowell in the fold; Auburn appears to be trying to make a late run at him.

Special Teams

10 of 10

    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Targets: None.

     

    Already Committed:

    Aaron Medley, 3-star K; 6'2", 170 lbs

    2013 Stats: 3/6 FGs, 39.0 YPP

    Participated in Under Armour All-America Game; 0-for-2 field goals

     

    Analysis:

    The Vols got who they believe is their kicker of the future, and they didn't have to go far to get him.

    The Marshall County (Tenn.) native had offers from teams like Texas A&M and Ohio State, but as soon as Tennessee offered, it didn't take him long to commit to his childhood favorite. Medley must improve his consistency, but he has a booming leg and really impressed on the camp circuit.

    With the graduation of Michael Palardy, he should come in and immediately compete for the starting job.

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