Vols Sign Top 10 Class on Early Signing Day

(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee was named one of the “Winners” of the 2019 Early Signing Day by 247Sports and vaulted into the top 10 of the Rivals National Team Rankings at No. 9 following an impressive haul of 21 signees on Wednesday during Day 1 of the Early Signing Period.

“We’re really excited about the guys that signed with us today,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “We have 21 signees. This has been a long road. When you think about when we first got here two years ago, we started recruiting a lot of these guys two years out. We’ve built a lot of relationships with them. I think it says a lot about the men on our staff, the people that work in our recruiting department, everybody associated with our program, from administration, to the weight room, nutritionists, athletic training, to the staff over at the Thornton Center in academics, and everybody across campus. When you talk about recruiting, it’s a team effort. We have used all the resources here at Tennessee, from – to start with, our Chancellor – to some of the deans in certain departments. Everybody’s been bought in and has done everything they could to sell this program. Our players, our current players – I can’t say enough about what they’ve done, in the interactions when these guys come to campus and building relationships.”

Ten of the Vols’ signees hail from the state of Tennessee, including the state’s top-rated player according to 247Sports Key Lawrence, a defensive back from Nashville who is also ranked fourth in his position and 66th overall nationally. Additionally, the Vols signed six of Tennessee’s Top 10 players in the 2020 Class. Tennessee added five players from Memphis, two from Knoxville, one from Maryville, one from Nashville and one from Greeneville to next year’s roster.

“I believe these 10 guys from this state have a lot of pride in the University of Tennessee, they wanted to represent their home state,” Pruitt said. “They have goals for how they want their next four years to turn out. They’ve really taken it upon themselves to recruit each other and recruit other guys out there. I’m excited to have these guys here. They all have great character, their leaders, and they’re guys that I want to be attached to and (guys) that we want in our program and the guys on our team wanted them in our program. I really believe that these guys will help continue to lay the foundation for years to come.”

A total of nine signees are ranked in the top 15 in their respective states which include Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland, while eight are ranked in the top 10 in their positions.

The Vols’ incoming class also features four players that recently won state championships including offensive lineman Javontez Spraggins (Class 6A) from East Saint Louis, Ill., who led his team to an undefeated season. Quarterback Harrison Bailey (Marietta, Ga./Class AAAAAAA), receiver Jalin Hyatt (Irmo, S.C./Class 5A), and standout running back from nearby Maryville, Tenn., Tee Hodge (Class 6A) also capped off their scholastic careers with a state title.

A trio of linebackers from Memphis – Bryson Eason, Martavius French and Tamarion McDonald – who played together in high school, each signed with the Vols as well on Wednesday and were selected to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game on New Year’s Eve.

Also coming from Memphis are high school teammates from Briarcrest Christian Academy – defensive lineman Omari Thomas, who was named Tennessee’s Mr. Football (Division II-AAA) and is one of seven UT signees in the ESPN 300, and Jabari Small, the No. 11-rated all-purpose back.

A consensus top-five player in the state of Tennessee, Tyler Baron will join the Orange and White as an outside linebacker, while his teammate Cooper Mays, one of the state’s top 10 recruits, will join the Vols offensive line along with James Robinson (Montgomery, Ala.).

UT’s backfield will be joined by Georgia’s eighth-ranked player Len’Neth Whitehead (Athens, Ga.), who was a three-time state champion in the shot put, while the receiving corps added Jimmy Calloway (Morrow, Ga.), who earned Region 4-6A Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 and is the ninth-ranked athlete in the country.

Defensive back Doneiko Slaughter (Roswell, Ga.) comes in with first-team all-region honors, while RJ Perry (Fairfield, Ala.) who was all-state in football and basketball, and Dominic Bailey (Baltimore, Md.) who will participate in the 2020 Under Armour All-American Bowl, will join the Vols defensive line.

The Vols will add more depth in its play-calling group, also signing quarterback Jimmy Holiday (Madison, Miss.) who participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. The lone signee from Florida was outside linebacker Morven Joseph who helped lead his team to Class 6A district title this year.

Rounding out the class was the nation’s fifth-ranked long snapper according to ESPN and 247, Will Albright (Greeneville, Tenn.), who was one of four signees selected for the All-American Bowl.

Overall, the 21 incoming student-athletes hail from eight states (Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Florida) and 18 led their teams to playoff appearances in their senior seasons.

Categories: Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UT Vols

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