The 2019 recruiting class was Jeremy Pruitt’s first full recruiting cycle as the head coach for the Tennessee Volunteers. Pruitt joined Tennessee midway through the 2018 off-season and guided the Vols to the 21st nationally ranked recruiting class despite many de-commitments after the Butch Jones debacle. Pruitt brought along a championship mentality that many players had not been accustomed to with previous coaching staffs. The 2019 class ended the cycle ranked 12th nationally including two 5-star offensive linemen. It’s time to Meet The Newest Tennessee Vols before training camp starts.
Meet The Newest Tennessee Vols
5 Star Signees
Wanya Morris (Loganville, GA) was the first of the two highest ranked commits of Tennessee’s recruiting class. Morris, a player ranked 28th nationally, signed with the Vols during the early signing period on December 19th. Morris will add size, depth and talent to an offensive line that struggled mightily without Trey Smith last season.
Pruitt capped his recruiting class by signing the 10th ranked player, offensive tackle Darnell Wright. Wright had many highlight tapes that displayed his physicality and toughness go viral through social media sites. Wright, listed at 6-6 and 320 lbs, should give QB Jarrett Guarantano added confidence in terms of his outside protection. The addition of Morris and Wright could shift former five star, Trey Smith, inside on the line should he return from his health battle.
4 Star Signees
Jackson Lampley, an in-state signee from Nashville, joined Morris in signing during the early signing period. Lampley may not start immediately at the guard position but should injuries occur to starters, Lampley could step in without a huge drop off in production. Athlete Quavaris Crouch may possibly be the most impactful freshman of the 2019 recruiting class. Crouch starred as a running back and linebacker in high school but ultimately decided to play on defense. Knowing Pruitt and his history with player versatility (Jeremy Banks in 2018), fans shouldn’t be surprised if Crouch flirts with getting some touches on the offensive side as well.
Tennessee’s depth and experience at the receiver position will allow Ramel Keyton to get valuable experience learning from seniors Juaun Jennings and Marquez Callaway. Keyton lacks the speed (4.82 40-yard dash) that current starters have but is known for his possession skills. Running back, Eric Gray, and tight end, Jackson Lowe, could potentially be redshirted in 2019. The Vols have depth at both positions and redshirting the two would give them an opportunity to learn the system.
Junior college transfer, Savion Williams, will help fill voids along the defensive line. Williams will have to fight for playing time as Emmit Gooden and Aubrey Solomon are favorites to start. Signee Roman Harrison will shift from nose guard to linebacker due to his size and athleticism but may redshirt while learning the new position. Linebacker Henry To’oto’o is another solid signee that could see a redshirt next season. With veterans Darrell Taylor and Daniel Bituli expected to take the majority of snaps, To’oto’o will look to learn from starters that have had solid production in recent years.
The defensive backfield is where the freshmen class could see some major playing time. A group that struggled in 2018, partly due to inexperience, will have many positions without a clear starter. Freshmen Tyus Fields and Jaylen McCollough will play the same role that we saw previously from Baylen Buchanan and Theo Jackson
With an off-season highlighted by the sudden popularity of the NCAA transfer portal, Tennessee picked up two major D-I transfers. Deangelo Gibbs, a highly coveted defensive back who chose Georgia over Tennessee in 2017, will compete for a starting job on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver. Should the defense struggle, Gibbs could switch back to defense where he saw spring action at the nickel position. Gibbs is explosive when he has the ball but struggled at Georgia recording only 10 tackles in 13 games.
Another transfer awaiting a NCAA announcement of eligibility is Michigan transfer, Aubrey Solomon. Solomon had a productive freshman campaign recording 18 tackles in 13 games but the defensive tackle battled a knee injury last season before deciding to transfer to Tennessee. If granted eligibility, Gibbs and Solomon will see quality playing time and get an opportunity to prove themselves at Tennessee.
Tennessee has traditionally had highly ranked recruiting classes and the 2019 recruiting class is no exception. However, the development of four and five star recruits has been the struggle for the Vols over the past decade. Pruitt and staff have set themselves up with the talent to bring the Vols back into the national spotlight. The incoming talent should bolster an already experienced roster and help Tennessee earn a bowl game following a two-year hiatus.