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Jeremy Pruitt Discusses Tennessee’s 2021 Early Signing Class


Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee wrapped up their signing day on Wednesday by adding 16 new names to the 2021 roster. The Vols still have plenty of room for upcoming additions and grad transfers. Potential players have until Friday to submit their paperwork, and then the Vols will look towards February to finish off the class.

The staff seemed to hit on many different areas in their search for future playmakers. They are also waiting on the signature of 5 star DL Dylan Brooks, who might end up signing by the end of the week, though reports say he could wait until February. The Tennessee staff is trying to get him to sign by Friday.

Jeremy Pruitt met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the new additions.

“If you look at today and Signing Day, we’re really excited. We have 14 guys that have officially assigned with us. Over the next several days, we expect to have several more. Just looking at these guys, I can’t say enough about our staff, our recruiting staff, our administration, academics – recruiting is a team effort. Hence, everybody in our program really works hard at recruiting. We do it every single day. Our players are probably the best recruiters that we have. Our players have done a tremendous job. It’s been very unusual obviously for the recruits in itself because they’ve not been able to come on campus.”

TE Trinity Bell

Trinity Bell from Albertville, Alabama, is a guy that actually was in the seventh grade, my dad was the head football coach there, and he called me and said, ‘Listen, there’s a kid here in the seventh grade…I don’t know if he’s going to play in the NFL or play in the NBA, but he’s going to play somewhere. I want to bring him down and introduce him to you.’ So, he’s a young man that I’ve known probably since he was 12 or 13 years old – he was probably 6-4 then. But a guy that’s 6-7-plus, 265 pounds, plays tight end, can play multiple positions. Plays defensive end. A guy that’s extremely athletic. I talked to him the other night after a basketball game, and I said, ‘so how many points did you have?’ He said, ‘I had seven dunks.’ So, I said, ‘did you make any free throws?’ He said, ‘I was 5-for-5.’ So, a guy that’s really, really athletic.”

TE Miles Campbell

“Miles is 6-3, 235. A guy that will be midyear (enrollee). Very good student, athletic. Suppose you watch his tape, he kind of plays all over the field. In his junior year in high school, he played a lot of quarterbacks. A guy that we’re going to focus on at tight end. You watch his senior tape, he’s a guy that plays wide receiver, plays defensive line – so he kind of plays all over the field. A very instinctive guy.”

DB Christian Charles

“6-1, 185. A guy that played high school quarterback, but he’s going to play defensive back for us. A really good athlete. Didn’t get a chance to run track his junior year. He’s another guy that’s going to be a midyear; a really good student. A guy that is probably a 10.6, 10.7 (100-meter dash) guy that weighs 185 pounds. Very instinctive, tough. A guy that we’re excited to have in our program.”

DL KaTron Evans

“Out of Chesapeake, Virginia, through St. Frances Academy there in Baltimore (Md.), is another young man we’ve been recruiting a long time. I can remember Katron when he’d come in; he was in about the eighth for ninth grade, coming to a camp. He looked like he could play then for us. A guy that’s played in a really good program. He didn’t get a chance to play his senior year because they didn’t have football there at St. Frances, but a guy that can really play up and down the line of scrimmage. I went last year and watched him practice there in Baltimore, and I came back, and somebody asked me what that team looked like. I said, ‘They looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers.’ That’s the biggest bunch of high school kids I’ve ever seen, and Katron’s a guy that really stuck out to me.”

RB Tiyon Evans

“He’s at Hutchinson Community College right now. A guy that we felt like is one of the premier running backs in the country. A guy that will be here midyear also. We’ll be excited to get him – feel like he’s a guy that can play all three downs. Has return ability. He’s probably 220 pounds. Really good hands out of the backfield, good blocker. A guy that can make you miss can run with power, can run in between the tackles, can get out there on the perimeter. A guy that has lots of explosive ability.”

OL J’Marion Gooch

” A guy – he’s 6-6, 350 pounds – that really has only played two years of football. He came to our camp two years ago and had never participated in football. It was probably one of the first times after saying, ‘I’m going to start playing football.’ We had him in camp, and he’s just a big massive, and athletic guy, but a guy that’s very instinctive. He has tons of upside, plays with an edge, and someone that feels like he could probably play up and down the line of scrimmage. We’re excited about him.”

DL Amari McNeill

“6-4, 285. He’s a guy that we got in with late in the process, and there are lots of guys like that this year because of the lack of spring recruiting and summer camps. Kind of through diligence of working the phones, we came across this guy. He played left tackle for his high school; he also played defensive tackle. He’s a guy that we think is extremely athletic and can play on either side of the ball. We’re excited about having him in our program.”

WR Walker Merrill

“6-1, 180 pounds. He’s a guy that we’ve been recruiting for a while since we’ve been here. Just a really good playmaker, very instinctive, plays with lots of toughness, had a great senior season, a guy that will be a mid-year enrollee, and guy that will be in our wide receiver rotation pretty quick.”

WR Julian Nixon

“I’ve known Julian’s dad since we were in high school. We grew up in the same hometown and played college ball together. We used to drive back and forth to school together. Julian is a guy that is 6-4; he’s probably 235 or 240 pounds. He’s very athletic, has huge hands, and really tracks the ball extremely well. He’s a mismatched type of guy out there on the perimeter and one we’re excited about for sure.”

OL William Parker

“This says he’s 6-5 and 305, but the last time I saw William, he was probably 6-5 and about 335. He’s a guy that, to me, is probably one of the better athletic big men in the entire country. He’s a guy that could really play on either side of the ball, but we’re going to play him on offense. He comes from a program at Pearl-Cohn where they’ve had a lot of success. We have one of his teammates here, and he’s a guy that we’ve recruited for about three years now. Probably one of the first times I went on the road, I saw him sitting in there in the gym at Pearl-Cohn. I’m looking, and this kid’s very large and has on boots and is dunking it any way he wants to. Then the coach there tells me that he’s just getting him out there for football. He’s a guy that excited about having for sure.”

QB Kaidon Salter

“Kaidon is 6-1, 185. He’s a guy that we targeted very early in the process. He plays in one of the better leagues down there in Texas. He’s having a phenomenal year down there. He’s a winner, he’s a leader, and he and Williams will be here mid-year. A guy that we can’t wait to get here in the spring.”

LB Aaron Willis

“He played at Life Christian Academy this year but played at St. Frances before. Obviously, St. Frances didn’t play, so he wanted to go somewhere to play and found a home. He’s a guy that, again, we’ve been recruiting for a long time, has a great motor, and probably can play all the spots at inside linebacker for us. He’s a great special teams player; he’s all over the field, and a guy that we’re absolutely excited about.”

RB Cody Brown

“He’s a running back that’s 5-11, 225. Cody’s a guy that rushed for over 5,000 yards in his career, and that’s hard to do anywhere. He’s a guy that’s used to having the ball in his hand and runs behind his pads. He has really good vision, is a really good student, and is a guy that’s been committed to us for a long time, and we’re glad that we have him.”

RB/ATH Jaylen Wright

“Jaylen is an athlete that we’ll probably play at running back and kick returner. He’s a guy that you want to get the ball to out in space. I think last winter; he ran the second-fastest 60-meter time in the country. He’s a guy that weighs 205 pounds and will probably weigh 215. He has really good speed and can assist us really early on in the return game.

PK J.T. Carver

“A guy that we targeted early expecting a transition, not knowing that guys could come back, just adding to our specialists. He’s a guy that we’re really excited about.”

OLB Byron Young

Tennessee received some good news late in the day on Wednesday. Byron is the #1 weakside defensive end and #11 overall junior college player by 247Sports. He played at the Georgia Military Academy and picked the Vols over Ole Miss, Auburn, and others. He’s planning to enroll in Tennessee next month. A very nice pickup by this staff who could contribute early.

ATH Kaemen Marley 

The Vols received a late addition on Wednesday night, as Kaemen was officially announced before midnight. Marley is a fantastic skill player, with the ability to play multiple positions. Barton Simmons of 247Sports had this to say about Kaemen. “Thicker skill athlete with powerful frame versatile enough to fill a number of positions in college. Plays wide receiver, running back and safety in high school.” Tennessee has added another playmaker, who could definitely be moved around.

Tennessee will turn their focus to maybe adding another this week as they wait on Dylan Brooks. The Vols are also in the final two for LB Terrence Lewis, who is expected to sign with a school this week, but hold off on announcing until January. Keep an eye out on the Vols in the grad transfer market, as they’ve left some room for upwards of four or five additions in that market.

Jeremy Pruitt discussed the positions they will try to fill with this class, as they have the spots remaining.

“I think every position. If you see on the list here, there’s a couple of running backs there; there’s a couple of o-linemen there. As this whole thing goes, you got to look and fit it together. The one thing that’s really changed the dynamic is the fact that other guys can come back this season, not counting (toward the 85 scholarship limit).”

So, we now wait to see if any additions will come this week, as the Vols continue to prepare for Texas A&M. Today was a good day, maybe not a great day, but it was a good day for the future of Tennessee.

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