KNOXVILLE—It’s time to update the status of several Vol targets and wavering commits. Four-star defensive end Jason Carr, a Tennessee commit, visited Alabama over the weekend and it briefly looked like the Tide had a chance at signing the Memphis-native. Carr received a visit from Vol head coach Butch Jones and defensive line coach Steve Stripling Tuesday and announced he was shutting down his recruitment and plans to sign with the Vols. The disruptive defensive end will reportedly be making an unofficial trip to Knoxville this weekend in an attempt to convince 5-star safety Vonn Bell to sign with UT. After visiting Alabama over the weekend, Bell hosted Butch Jones and the entire Vol defensive staff in his home Monday. Tennessee will have to battle Alabama to sign Bell, but he is a lifelong Vol fan and if his visit goes well this weekend the Vols will likely be the favorites to sign him. Look for more info on Bell in our weekend recruiting preview (published Friday morning).
Along with Bell and Carr, Marquez North has been one of Butch Jones’ top targets since taking the Tennessee job. An explosive 4-star receiver, he visited North Carolina over the weekend. The Tar Heels are likely Tennessee’s main competition for North, but they didn’t do enough to change our belief that the Vols are the favorites to sign him. North should play immediately wherever he signs and would be a huge addition to this class. Another recent Tennessee visitor, Chongo Kondolo, took a weekend official visit to Nebraska. The Vols and Cornhuskers are the favorites to sign him and neither program has a clear lead at this point. The news isn’t as encouraging on former Penn State commit Jonathan Walton, a 3-star linebacker. He traveled to Columbia over the weekend to see what Spurrier and the Gamecocks have to offer. South Carolina looks like it will land Walton and we’d be surprised to see him sign with the Vols.
John Franklin, a dual-threat 3-star quarterback, visited Knoxville 10 days ago and is coming off a trip to Florida State. An FSU commit since November, Franklin’s trip to Tallahassee solidified his plans to play for the Seminoles. The Vols were always a long shot with Franklin and his decision to stick with FSU is not terribly surprising.
While Tennessee doesn’t need to add another quarterback to this class (4-star QB Riley Ferguson is firmly in the UT camp), the Vols desperately need to sign a running back. Johnathan Ford may be their best chance to do so. The 4-star running back has been committed to Vanderbilt since April, but the Vols have been pushing hard to land him. Ford may visit Auburn this weekend and though the Tigers may factor into his decision, Vanderbilt and Tennessee are his top two choices. Jay Graham visited Ford Tuesday, and we’d give the Vols a 60% chance of convincing him to wear Vol orange instead of black and gold.
On the topic, Derrick Green is scheduled to announce his college plans Saturday afternoon. The 5-star running back from Virginia is expected to choose Michigan or Tennessee and the Wolverines are the current favorites to sign him. He will be visited by several UT coaches today in one last push to sway him, and it’s fairly apparent Green hasn’t made up his mind. Though it’s likely he signs with Michigan, don’t count the Vols out.
Weekend visitor Jaylen Miller, a 4-star defensive end, has the Vols at the top of his list and should be getting a visit from the Vol staff Thursday. He is very comfortable with UT’s coaches even though he’s only been recruited by them for a month, and seems to be ready to wrap up his recruitment. We’ll keep a close eye on Miller as he could commit to Tennessee in the coming days.
Another 4-star defensive end, Davin Bellamy, is expecting a visit from Butch Jones today. The Vols have momentum with the Florida State commit and if they can maintain it through his scheduled visit to Georgia this weekend, UT looks to be in the lead to sign him.
Lastly, Vol offensive tackle commit Dan Skipper visited Arkansas and Ohio State last week and looks like the one UT commit who could sign elsewhere. The Vols need offensive tackles in this class and the 3-star prospect from Colorado could be receiving an appearance from Butch Jones today as Tennessee tries to hold on to the 6-10 , 300 pound recruit.
Remember, all recruiting projections are educated guesses based on the public thoughts of high school athletes, but Jones and his staff appear to be well on their way to a top 20 or top 15 class.
Who are the other recruits for which you’d like updates? Comment below and I’ll do my best to answer this evening.