There’s no doubt that the Tennessee Vols are recruiting at a high level under Jeremy Pruitt.
The Vols currently have the No. 2 ranked 2021 recruiting class in the nation and they still have several high-rated players they’re targeting.
But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Tennessee recruit well in recent years.
The Vols signed a couple of top 10 classes under Butch Jones before things completely fell apart in 2017.
Jones’ recruiting strategy was similar to Pruitt’s — go after some high-level recruits and also try to find some “hidden gems” that get overlooked by the recruiting services.
It’s not a unique strategy. It’s what every program in the nation not named Alabama, Clemson, LSU or Ohio State is essentially doing.
However, we’re seeing something different happen with the “under-the-radar” recruits that Pruitt is landing.
For a long time, there was a perception that recruiting services penalized recruits for committing to Tennessee. While I don’t necessarily buy into the theory that recruits see their ratings go down because of the school they commit to, I definitely think ratings go up because of where a player lands.
For example, if a three-star recruit chooses Alabama, it probably won’t be long before they’re elevated to four-star status. That’s because recruiting services trust Nick Saban’s evaluations (as they should).
They didn’t trust Butch’s “evaluations”, so we didn’t often see those same rating bumps for players just because they committed to Tennessee.
But it’s something we’re starting to see with Pruitt.
2021 quarterback Kaidon Salter, who committed to the Vols in May, is rated as the No. 206 overall player in the nation in 247Sports’ composite rankings (which is an average of the ratings from all recruiting services). 247Sports, though, recently re-ranked Salter and they have him as the No. 62 overall player in the nation. That’s quite a jump (the other recruiting services will likely follow, which will make his 247Sports composite rating go up).
There haven’t been any camps/evaluations since Salter committed to Tennessee. So the only reason he received a ratings bump has to be because he committed to the Vols.
Salter wasn’t the only UT commit to see his 247Sports rating go up this week.
2021 tight end Miles Campbell was a three-star recruit when he committed to Tennessee in May.
Less than a month later, he’s a four-star tight end.
The only thing that changed?
Campbell is committed to Tennessee now.
Recruiting services don’t like to be wrong. The fact they appear to be changing ratings based solely on players committing to UT speaks volumes to how Pruitt is viewed by the recruiting industry.
And that’s good news for the future of Tennesse football.
Featured image via Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports/Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports