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Tennessee Inks Six, Misses Out On More In Hectic National Signing Day

To many Tennessee fans’ chagrin, yesterday’s National Signing Day didn’t exactly live up to the hype for the orange and white. The Vols were still in play for quite a few big names entering the day, but most of the high profile-recruits chose to attend other schools. To make matters worse, Tennessee lost two previously committed recruits, who both flipped to Florida State; Anthony Grant, a three-star running back, announced his decision to flip early in the morning, followed by elite receiver Jordan Young a few hours later.

Despite this, Pruitt and his staff did a good job rounding out the class. For only having two months to recruit, Tennessee was still able to sign some quality talent. The Vols signed 14 athletes during the early signing period and followed that up with six more yesterday. Pruitt concluded his 2018 class with 20 total scholarship athletes, and coincidentally Tennessee finished No. 20 in the 247Sports team rankings.

Tennessee still has two players who have not officially signed. Four-star defensive back Joseph Norwood and three-star corner Brandon Davis were offered delayed scholarships. Therefore, they will have to blue shirt this season. All this means is they cannot officially join the team until preseason practice begins. Also, as with a redshirt, they will be able to practice, but they will not be able to play in 2018.

Tennessee might have lost out on some pretty good players yesterday, but it is not the end for Tennessee football. Pruitt’s recognizable quote rings through about recruiting: “… you worry about the ones that you get, you don’t worry about the ones you don’t.” Fans shouldn’t be too concerned, especially given the staff’s short time restraints to pull together a class.

JJ Peterson: Four-Star Outside Linebacker

JJ Peterson might be considered the crown jewel of this class.  He is the highest ranked player Tennessee landed, according to the 247Sports composite (No. 48 prospect overall). ESPN considers Peterson the top outside linebacker in the class. His size is ideal — he stands at 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs in at 231 pounds. Peterson fits the mold as the quintessential linebacker Pruitt likes in his systems, one who is athletic enough to play four linebacker positions on defense. He will be able to rush the edge and drop back when needed.

Peterson committed to the Tennessee back on Jan.  6 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The other potential suitors were Alabama and Georgia. To show his love for the orange and white, he committed to the Vols before even visiting the campus. He did take an official about a week after committing, though.

The Georgia native’s film is something of an eyebrow-raiser. At times, he was unblockable coming off of the edge. As a linebacker, there appeared to be times where Peterson was the fastest guy on the field. Because of his freaky athletic nature, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Peterson starting on defense after a few months under the care of the Vols’ defensive staff.

Emmit Gooden: 4-Star Defensive Tackle


The only junior college player the Volunteers signed on National Signing Day is one Vols’ fans should be excited for. Emmit Gooden is originally from the state of Tennessee and was committed to the Vols in high school. Unfortunately, due to academic issues, Gooden was forced to go the junior college route and eventually made his way to Independence, Kansas.

While at Independence C.C., Gooden made the transition from defensive end to tackle. In two seasons, he managed 136 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one. After garnering some national attention, Gooden committed to Arkansas. He decommitted not too long afterward, and once Tennessee offered him, the two were drawn together once again.

Gooden is beast of a man at 6 feet 4 inches and 300 pounds. He is the prototypical space-eater you expect from a defensive tackle. However, what impresses the most from Gooden is his pursuit. He takes sharp routes to the ball carrier and is able to chase them down once they break past the line of scrimmage. He’ll be expected to play early on at Tennessee. He is aware of that too, and he seems to be up for the challenge.

Trevon Flowers: 3-Star Safety

The Tennessee Volunteers landed three-star safety Trevon Flowers yesterday, beating out the likes of Clemson and Kentucky. Initially, Flowers committed to Kentucky in late 2017 to play baseball. However, once his recruitment for football started to heat up, he began to rethink things. The Tucker, Georgia, product reconsidered what every school had to offer in each sport. After much deliberation, he decided on Tennessee. Pruitt has made it known that Flowers will be allowed to play both sports, as well.

Flowers is 6 feet 1 inches tall and weights 185 pounds. He will add on some  weight once he gets to campus, but his film speaks for itself. His speed is noticeable, and it propels him to end up seemingly everywhere on the field. What might be best about Flowers is the confidence to believe he can come in to Knoxville and garner plenty of playing time at defensive back as a freshman. You have to admire the confidence.

There is once concern with Flowers, though and that concern is the MLB Draft. There is a chance that Flowers will be selected in the draft, and if so, he’s stated he will consider the option. When asked about the possibility of going pro in an interview with 247Sports he responded by saying that he is still leaning toward staying in college.

John Mincey 3-star Defensive End

John Mincey is a lower-rated, three-star defensive end from Homerville, Georgia. Although he might be ranked lower than most, he holds offers from several highly touted universities. Mincey was once committed to Arkansas, but decommitted on Jan. 11. Nine days later, he was on a visit to Tennessee. He followed that up with a trip to South Carolina, who became a finalist with the Vols, but decided on Tennessee early Wednesday morning and gave the orange and white their first signee of the day.

Mincey stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs around 255 pounds. In high school, he played all across the defensive line, but it appears his game will translate best as an edge defender. There are some mechanical issues that will need to be worked out, but he has some exciting raw talent, especially when disengaging would-be blockers.

Cedric Tillman: 3-star Wide Receiver

Cedric Tillman became an option for Tennessee once it was apparent Jordan Young had all but flipped to Florida State. In fact, Tillman did not even receive an offer from Tennessee until this past Sunday night. Prior to the Vols’ offer, his only offers were from Southern California, which eventually got retracted, UNLV and Hawaii. It might not seem like it now, but Tennessee may have found another diamond in the rough in Tillman. He missed his sophomore season with a broken forearm. He played his junior season and then grew four inches before his senior year. This is when he truly began to emerge as a star receiver.

Tillman is a tall wideout from Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds. His size is what really stands out, but the film on Tillman caught the Vols’ eyes as well. He can go up over a defender to make a play, can run crisp routes, and his instincts are on par with the best of the Vols’ athletic signees. Add some quality coaching down the road, and Tennessee might have found a suitable replacement for Young.

Kurott Garland: 3-Star Defensive End

The last player on the list is three-star defensive end Kurott Garland. Garland is a 6-foot-3, 250-pound defender from Conyers, Georgia. He is listed as an end, but he could find some eventual playing time up the middle, as well. As a senior in high school, Garland tallied 125 tackles and 12.5 sacks. His best offer outside of the Vols was Tulane. It’s clear that the Vols’ staff sees something in Garland that other SEC schools don’t, and we’ll wait and see to find out what that might be.

He will definitely need some work at the next level, but he has the size that Pruitt, Kevin Sherrer and Chris Rumph are looking for. And honestly, that might be more important. He is one strong man, too. According to his Hudl page, he squats 500 pounds and benches 350 more. It will definitely be a waiting game for Garland, but he has all the potential to make an impact at Tennessee down the road.

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