Tennessee lost a commitment from a crucial in-state recruit Tuesday night. Defensive end Emmit Gooden announced on Twitter he is reopening his recruitment process after a 10-week pledge to the Volunteers:
Just want to take the time to thank all the Tennessee coaching staff for all they have done for me it's been a good one— TheRealEmmitG (@What_A_Star5) April 30, 2014
The 6'4", 263-pound Haywood High School (Brownsville, Tennessee) sophomore accepted a scholarship offer from Tennessee on Feb. 15.
At the time, Gooden called it the realization of a lifelong goal.
“I’ve always wanted to play for my state,” Gooden told Volquest.com (h/t VolNation.com). “I dream about it, playing in the state. It’s one of my dreams, playing in the state and then making it to the league.”
Rated No. 5 nationally among strong-side defensive ends in 247Sports' 2016 composite rankings, Gooden has already commanded substantial collegiate interest after two high school seasons. SEC rivals Vanderbilt, Alabama, Mississippi State and LSU are among those who could quickly enter the mix.
Penn State head coach James Franklin extended an offer to Gooden on Feb. 10, less than a month after leaving Vanderbilt. The Nittany Lions were the second team to present him with a scholarship, 15 days after Tennessee kicked off his recruitment in earnest.
It hasn't taken long for Gooden to gain a reputation in his home state. He was named Tennessee's District 15-AA Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
MaxPreps indicates that Gooden tallied 70 tackles, including 32 for loss, and nine sacks as a sophomore. He is rated the state's No. 1 2016 prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings.
His commitment to the Vols sent another strong signal that Butch Jones is turning the tide at Tennessee by keeping key in-state targets at home.
The second-year coach has enjoyed immense recruiting success during his short tenure in Knoxville. He already holds commitments from top 2016 sophomores Darel Middleton (tight end; Powell, Tennessee) and Dorian Banks (athlete; Gallatin, Tennessee).
Although the class no longer includes Gooden, Paul Fortenberry of Volquest.com suggests there's still a chance he recommits during the course of his recruitment:
Gooden tells me he will 'Absolutely,' continue to consider the Vols. Ohio St, Alabama, Florida St, USC, Auburn & others have shown interest.— Paul Fortenberry (@Volquest_Paul) April 30, 2014
Tennessee is sure to have plenty of competitors, but don't rule the Volunteers out of this race just yet.
Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports.com unless otherwise noted.