KNOXVILLE—The Vols hosted 13 official visitors this weekend in what were the most important few days of recruiting in Butch Jones’ young Tennessee career. Jones and his staff were introduced in front of 17,585 Vol fans during the Mississippi State—Tennessee basketball game. The recruits were in attendance while each coach got a rousing ovation, and Jones even took the time to give Smokey a friendly chest-bump. Below you’ll find information on each defensive prospect including our “Vol Forecast” of their chances to sign with Tennessee. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the offensive prospects that visited Knoxville in part 2 of our recruiting recap.
Carl Lawson: The 6-3, 255 pound defensive end from Georgia is rated as the No. 4 player in the nation by Rivals. A consensus 5-star prospect, Lawson is one of the most prized recruits in the country. He explodes off the line, gets to opposing quarterbacks quickly, plays hard, makes his teammates better, has a body that is ready for college, and generally wreaks havoc on opponents. As you would expect with such a heralded recruit, Lawson lacks a major weakness and is a truly well-rounded athlete. Wherever he lands, he has the ability to start immediately.
Vol Forecast: Lawson is currently committed to Auburn but is keeping his options open. He has scheduled visits to North Carolina and Auburn in the next two weeks, but is strongly considering Tennessee. His good friend, 4-star receiver Ryan Jenkins, is a Vol commit and visited Knoxville with Lawson over the weekend. Jenkins’ presence certainly didn’t hurt Tennessee’s chances at landing Lawson and the talented defensive end called his time on campus “a great visit” and was clearly impressed with Tennessee’s facilities. The Vols, along with Auburn, North Carolina, and Clemson, are in Lawson’s top four. If he cancels either of his upcoming visits, the chances of Lawson signing with Tennessee obviously improve. For now, it looks as though Tennessee neither trails nor leads in the race to land him. Look for his recruitment to come down to the wire. If the Vols land him, he should start this fall.
Davin Bellamy: A 6-5, 240 pound defensive end from Georgia, Bellamy is rated as a 4-star prospect by ESPN. Bellamy is a remarkable athlete who placed his primary focus on basketball until his junior year, and has the potential to play defensive end or linebacker. A disruptive pass rusher, Bellamy needs to put on a few pounds to play defensive end in college, but should compete for playing time the moment he steps on campus.
Vol Forecast: Bellamy has been committed to Florida State since August, but his official visit this weekend certainly left the Vols in excellent position to sign him. Butch Jones is selling the ability to step in and play early to Tennessee’s defensive targets and communicated to Bellamy that the Vols don’t just want him—they need him. Bellamy hasn’t stopped talking about how much he enjoyed his trip to Knoxville, and it’s difficult to imagine the Vols making a better impression than they did over the weekend. While Bellamy ranks the Vols and Seminoles at the top of his list, he’s scheduled to visit Georgia this weekend. We suspect the Vols may hold a slim lead in his recruitment but he is not expected to announce his final intentions until signing day.
Jaylen Miller: The 6-3, 260 pound defensive lineman from South Carolina is rated as a 4-star recruit by ESPN. He’s a disruptive player who relentlessly pursues the ball and appears physically ready for the rigors of college football. A versatile athlete, Miller has the tools, strength, and build to play either defensive end or tackle in college.
Vol Forecast: Miller was the lone uncommitted visitor over the weekend and is scheduled to take trips to Maryland and Wake Forest in the coming weeks. Those trips may not happen as the Vols left such a positive impression that he is expected to be the next player to commit to Tennessee. The Vols desperately need defensive lineman in this class and with Miller’s potential to play every position on the defensive front, he’d be almost guaranteed playing time this fall and could challenge for a starting spot.
Malik Foreman: A 5-10, 170 pound athlete from Kingsport, TN., Foreman is blazing fast and has been timed running a 4.4 40 yard dash. He’ll likely play cornerback in college, but could see some time on offense as he has the ability to make opponents miss in the open field. Rated as a 3-star athlete by 247 Sports, Foreman will need to put on a few pounds to see consistent playing time this fall. A few months in a collegiate strength program will help and his speed alone should give him a shot to make an immediate impact wherever he signs.
Vol Forecast: A former Vanderbilt commit, this was Foreman’s first visit to Tennessee since switching his commitment from the Commodores to the Vols. Everything went well during his time on campus and the visit helped solidify Foreman’s commitment to Tennessee. If he signs with anyone else, it would be shocking. Foreman could see playing time this fall in a Vol secondary that desperately needs an influx of speed.
Cameron Sutton: The 6-0, 175 pound athlete from Georgia is rated as a 3-star prospect. Like Foreman, Sutton’s speed is his greatest asset; he runs a 4.45 40 yard dash. Though he played receiver and cornerback in high school, he is being recruited by most teams as a defensive back. He has good hands and could develop into a playmaker in the secondary.
Vol Forecast: Sutton has been committed to the Vols since August, but Auburn and Ole Miss have been making a push to land him. Fortunately for Tennessee, it looks like his campus visit left him firmly committed to the Vols, and he may travel back to Knoxville to make an unofficial visit next week. If he stays with his UT commitment, he’ll have a chance to contribute immediately in a secondary which needs his speed.
Look for part 2 of our recruiting recap Tuesday.