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Introducing Tennessee Football’s 2019 Signing Class

Picture courtesy of Jarrod Clay, WCHS Channel 8, Charleston-Huntington, WV

As National Signing Day 2019 finally comes to a close, Tennessee’s recruiting class is starting to come together. And for a team that has only had four winning seasons since 2008, it’s looking really, really good. Jeremy Pruitt faced a tall task going into his first full recruiting cycle as head coach, but it seems like he was ready. Landing a consensus top-15 class in the country is no small feat, given the past few years at Tennessee.

In no particular order, here are the players that will be joining Tennessee.

Wanya Morris, 5-Star OL

At 6-foot-6, 312 pounds, Morris could be an immediate impact player for a unit that struggled mightily last season. He is slated to play at tackle, and is already enrolled in classes at the university. Morris was a five star and top-10 at his position on most of the major recruiting sites. Landing a stud like Morris at a position of need is an absolutely massive win for Pruitt and company.

Jackson Lowe, 4-Star TE

Since he has been at Tennessee, Pruitt hasn’t been shy about his desire to utilize tight ends in his offense. With that in mind, he went out and got a pair of 6-foot-5 tight ends that can block and catch. One of them, Lowe, was a top-12 tight end recruit in the country, and will look to be an immediate impact player in the passing game. Lowe is already enrolled in classes.

Melvin McBride, 3-Star OL

McBride is another offensive lineman with size. At 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, McBride already has SEC size. Whether or not he will make an immediate impact or become a starter remains to be seen, considering he didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. But, given time under some college coaches, he could turn into something special.

Aaron Beasley, 3-Star ATH

While Beasley is cited as an athlete on most recruiting sites, Tennessee will likely try him first at safety. He was also a pretty solid running back in high school, posting almost 2,000 rushing yards his senior year. That might explain why Nebraska and Auburn wanted him as well.

Quavaris Crouch, 4-Star ATH

Another athlete, Crouch was once one of the top recruits in the country. And while an injury last year made his ratings drop, Crouch is still one of the best players in the country. The top recruit in the state of North Carolina, Crouch played running back and linebacker in high school. He is slated to play linebacker at Tennessee, but wherever he ends up, landing an athlete like Crouch over schools like Clemson and Alabama is a win. Crouch is already enrolled in classes, as well.

Elijah Simmons, 3-Star DT

Absolute. Unit.

At 6-feet, *350 pounds*, Simmons is big boy. But, don’t worry, he’s pretty explosive, too. Here he is touching rim off of two feet.

Darel Middleton, 3-Star DT

Middleton, a JUCO recruit from East Mississippi CC in Scooba, MS, was once a Tennessee commit early in his high school career at Powell. Many years later, he is officially coming to Tennessee. At 6-foot-7, Middleton will join Simmons in competing for early playing time on a defensive line unit that is replacing most starters from last year.

Ramel Keyton, 4-Star WR

Wide receiver wasn’t exactly one of the top positions of need for Pruitt this recruiting cycle, but it’s tough to pass on a talent like Keyton. At 6-foot-3 and running a 4.62 second 40-yard dash, Keyton posted well over 3,00 yards and 30 touchdowns during his time at Marietta High School. His quarterback there, by the way, was Harrison Bailey, who is currently committed to join Tennessee next year. Maybe they will form a dynamic duo down the road? Keyton is also enrolled in classes, already.

Sean Brown, 3-Star TE

Where Lowe is a 6-foot-5 tight end with a strong background in pass catching, Brown is a 6-foot-5 tight end with a strong background in run blocking. As we noted earlier, tight ends are a position of emphasis for Pruitt, so there’s a possibility Brown and Lowe see the field early on in their college careers.

Jerrod Means, 3-Star WR

Means wasn’t the most sought after recruit in the country. His best offers were from Tennessee, North Carolina, and Rutgers. But at 6-foot-2 with 4.4 speed, Means could possibly carve out a role in this offense or on special teams.

Darnell Wright, 5-Star OL

Let’s cut to the chase: Wright might just be one of the highest-rated recruits to ever choose to come to Tennessee. Joining Morris as a massive 5-star offensive tackle, Wright is one of the favorites to see early playing time in this class. This guy is a beast, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, will likely be playing on Sundays.

Brian Maurer, 3-Star QB

No recruiting class is ever complete without a decent quarterback and Maurer is just that. He has the right frame at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and his 3,500 yards and almost 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio as a senior suggest that he might be able to carve out some playing time down the road.

Jaylen McCollough, 4-Star Safety

McCollough choosing Tennessee might have something to do with the fact that Tennessee was the first school to offer him a scholarship. One of the more physical safeties in the class, McCollough earned a shot to play in the Under Armour All-America Game, where he impressed. And considering he chose Tennessee over the likes of Alabama, Auburn, and Florida, McCollough could possibly work his way into some early playing time.

Eric Gray, 4-Star RB

One of the biggest flips of the class was Gray flipping from Michigan to Tennessee. The Memphis product was, quite literally, one of the best high school running backs that this state has ever seen. Gray was the first ever three-time Mr. Football Award winner in this state. At 5-foot-10, Gray has the size, hands, and pace to be an exceptional running back in every facet of the position.

Warren Burrell, 3-Star CB

Cornerback was yet another position of need for Tennessee. And while Burrell might not have the pomp and circumstance of other recruits at the position, he has the length and speed that Pruitt likes. Burrell will likely push from some playing time at some point in his career. Before that happens, though, he will have to add some meat to his 6-foot, 180 pound frame.

Chris Akporoghene, 3-Star OL

Yet another massive recruit (literally) for the offensive line, Akporoghene measures in at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds. Coming out of the IMG Academy in Florida, he has the size and length to make a difference at the position. Whether he will contribute as much as Morris and Wright is an entirely different conversation, but given how the offensive line performed last season, Akporoghene could play into some field time.

Jackson Lampley, 4-Star OL

The final offensive lineman on this list, Lampley is a product of the mid-state and the son of former Vol, Brad Lampley. He is roughly the same size as Akporoghene, but has the abilities and skills to push for playing time, sooner.

Roman Harrison, 4-Star DE

One of the more underrated signings of the class, Harrison is the type of edge player that can thrive in Pruitt’s defense. Not necessarily a down lineman on every play, but not a pure outside linebacker, either. He posted 8.5 sacks and almost 100 tackles his senior year of high school.

Savion Williams, 4-Star DT

Another JUCO product from Lackawanna CC in Scranton, PA. He will join Middleton and Simmons as the primary defensive tackles this coming season.

Henry To’oto’o, 4-Star OLB

This is a huge signing for a lot of reasons. To’oto’o choosing Tennessee over Alabama signifies that Pruitt can win recruiting battles with Nick Saban. Landing a recruit from California shows that the Tennessee brand is still strong enough to span the entire country. He is also one of the few pure outside linebackers in the class, which is a position of major need for Tennessee. And, at 6-foot-2, To’oto’o has the frame that Pruitt likes at the position. Look for him to make an impact sooner rather than later.

Anthony Harris, 4-Star Safety

Harris is as pure an athlete as there is in this group. He is listed as a quarterback on some recruiting sites and a safety on others. Harris will have to add some weight to his slender 6-foot-2 frame, but he is the type of SEC athlete that Pruitt will find a way to put on the field.

Tyus Fields, 4-Star CB

Fields is the prototypical type of player that usually ends up playing nickelback. He is fast, physical, and has experience at corner and safety. And considering he chose Tennessee over reigning national champions Clemson, he clearly is ready to push for some early playing time.

So there you have it. A top-15 class for a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2016. A group of eight linemen weighing in at an average of 310 pounds before they even get in a college conditioning program. Covering almost every single position of emphasis, Pruitt’s first full recruiting class was, by most accounts, a resounding success.

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