KNOXVILLE—The Vols hosted 23 official visitors the last two weeks and are scheduled to entertain five this weekend. While not the biggest recruiting weekend of the year, Butch Jones and his staff will receive visits from the most consistently talented group to date; with one 5-star and four 4-star prospects scheduled to be in Knoxville. Tennessee could receive unofficial visits from several other highly rated recruits, but the icy weather conditions have made it difficult to predict who will make it to campus.
No scheduled visitor is more highly sought after than 5-star prospect Vonn Bell. The 6-0, 190 pound safety is a resident of Ooltewah, Tennessee, and grew up a Vol fan. He took an official visit to Alabama last weekend and the Tide are thought to be Tennessee’s main competition in his recruitment. Bell is a speedy safety who loves to hit, has great hands, and makes plays in the secondary. He will be a difference maker the moment he steps on a college campus, and with Tennessee’s much maligned secondary, the Vols need him even more than they want him. Butch Jones has some ground to make up to sign him, but an impressive campus visit might do the trick.
Joshua Dobbs, a 6-3, 190 pound quarterback from Georgia, is rated as a 4-star prospect. While he’s considered to be a pro-style quarterback, he can make things happen with his legs and would be a good fit in Butch Jones’ uptempo spread attack. Dobbs is currently committed to Arizona State and it will take an exceptional visit to sign him, but the Tennessee staff convinced him to make the trip to Knoxville so don’t count them out.
The Vols could use an inside linebacker in this class and are hoping E.J. Levenberry fills that role. A 6-3, 230 pound linebacker from Virginia, Levenberry is rated as a 4-star prospect. He is an excellent run stopper, sure tackler, and has the size and skills to play as a true freshman. Though Levenberry is committed to Florida State, he isn’t thrilled with the idea of playing for Sal Sunseri, who was hired as Florida State’s linebackers coach after his exit from Tennessee. The Vols have a legitimate chance of signing Levenberry and are the biggest threat to the Seminoles in his recruitment. UPDATE: Levenberry is reportedly sick and will not visit this weekend, but is hoping to make the trip to Knoxville next weekend. We’ll update his status as it changes.
Tennessee is hoping to pry another commit from a Florida school. Antonio Riles, a 6-4, 265 pound defensive end, is rated as a 4-star prospect and has been committed to the Gators since July. A versatile lineman, Riles plays the run well, has enough speed to cause problems off the edge, and aggressively pursues the ball. Riles’ visit status is up in the air and though he’s scheduled to be in Knoxville, he may not show. Even if he makes the trip, Riles is a long shot to sign with the Vols.
Uncommitted linebacker Zach Cunningham is expected to make an official visit Sunday. The 6-4, 200 pound linebacker from Alabama is rated as a 4-star prospect, and plans to visit Vanderbilt before his trip to Knoxville. Cunningham is an aggressive linebacker, is always near the play, has good instincts, and excels playing close to the line of scrimmage. Auburn is the favorite to sign him, but Cunningham is also considering Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Oregon, and Miami.
Four-star defensive end Jason Carr (a Vol commit) and 4-star running back Johnathan Ford (a Vanderbilt commit) may be in town for unofficial visits. Carr is firmly in the Tennessee camp and hoping to convince Vonn Bell to join him. If the Vols can get Ford on campus for an unofficial visit, there’s a good chance he switches his commitment from the Commodores to the Vols.
With the current weather conditions in Knoxville, it’s possible several visits will be postponed. As plans change, we’ll update this article to reflect those changes.
Look for a recap of the weekend visits Monday.