What recruiting position is biggest strength for Tennessee right now?

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Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss where Tennessee is the strongest with the Class of 2018.

I wrote about the biggest area of need on the recruiting trail for the Vols on Wednesday. Clearly, the biggest area of need for the program right now is a new coach. Which, with each passing day, seems to become tougher and tougher to find.

The new coach will be walking into plenty of question marks. There also are some strong points in the Class of 2018, too.

The class isn’t what it once was during the summer when it was ranked as the best recruiting class in the SEC and a top 5 class in the country according to 247Sports.

Here are the positions of strength for the Vols in the Class of 2018:


Tennessee has three quarterbacks on its roster in Quinten Dormady, Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride. My bet is that the full trio will not return for next season.

Tennessee’s two quarterback commits will become even more important if one or two current players decide to leave.

Adrian Martinez missed his senior season with a shoulder surgery, but he does plan to play in the Under Armour All America Game on Jan. 4.
Martinez brings a dual-threat presence that many fans probably expected from Guarantano this season. He has a level head on his shoulders and speaks with a perspective beyond his years.

Michael Penix Jr. brings something completely different. He’s more of a pocket passer and a left-hander. He did run for an 80-yard touchdown in his final high school game last Friday, so he does possess some speed.

Penix is extremely soft-spoken and just lets his play do the talking for him.

Both quarterbacks will provide depth to Tennessee’s quarterback situation next season, even if they will be better served to wait for their time.

Not one of the three current quarterbacks on the roster did much to impress this season, though. So, Martinez and Penix might get a chance to compete earlier than expected.

Defensive line

I still think this is one of the best defensive line hauls in the SEC this season. Tennessee holds commitments from Greg Emerson, Brant Lawless, D’Andre Litaker and Jamarcus Chatman. Chatman is the only 3-star prospect in the group; the rest all rate as 4-star prospects.

The Vols did lose a commitment from top junior college prospect Dorian Gerald when coach Butch Jones was fired. He would have solidified the group’s status as the best in the SEC.

It’s still solid without Gerald, and the Vols are likely not losing a commitment from another prospect on the line.

Emerson has become the leader of the recruiting class after the de-commitment of 5-star prospect Cade Mays. Emerson has been public about his unwavering support of the Vols, regardless of the coach next season. He didn’t play his senior season because of an ankle injury he sustained at Nike’s The Opening over the summer.

Emerson has the size and strength at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds to make a difference early on with the Tennessee defensive line.

Lawless won’t take advantage of the early signing period beginning on Dec. 20. He told SEC Country earlier in November he will stick with Tennessee regardless of the coach on the sidelines in 2018.

Litaker missed most of his senior season with an ACL tear in his right knee. He missed his entire junior season with the same injury to his other knee. He will likely have to redshirt next season. If he can regain his pre-ACL tear form, he brings relentless effort to the defensive line.

Chatman is the most likely of the four to flip, but I don’t think he’ll go anywhere. He was not into the possible Greg Schiano hire (I don’t think he was the only recruit with doubts on that move.). A good hire will keep him in Knoxville.

Tennessee’s defensive line has a handful of underperformers in Kahlil McKenzie, Kyle Phillips and Jonathan Kongbo. This new group could help pick up the slack of the unit.

Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news here.

The post What recruiting position is biggest strength for Tennessee right now? appeared first on SEC Country.

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