There was a lot of optimism before National Signing Day last week that Tennessee would finish with a top 15 or possibly even a top 10 class.
But the Vols ended up striking out on some of their top targets and finished with the No. 20 class in the nation.
There was some chatter over the weekend that Jeremy Pruitt was lied to by some of Tennessee’s top targets. I dismissed it as message board fodder from fans that were upset the Vols didn’t have a better day.
But there appears to be some legitimacy to this claim.
VolQuest’s Austin Price told Nashville’s Middday 180 on Monday that Tennessee felt they got “hoodwinked” with several recruits.
“I think there definitely was some frustration for Tennessee in this recruiting cycle. They had a few kids who they thought could take them from good to a little better, but they kind of got hoodwinked in the end with a few recruits.” – @AustinPriceless on @Midday180
— The Midday 180 (@Midday180) February 12, 2018
Who “Hoodwinked” Tennessee?
So who could Austin Price be talking about?
My money is on three names — Quay Walker, Isaac Taylor-Stuart and Jordan Young.
Walker appeared to be a Tennessee lean over the last month, thanks to his previous relationship with the Vols’ coaching staff — specifically Pruitt and defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer. Georgia, however, ended up getting Walker’s final official visit and apparently Kirby Smart was able to seal the deal (at which point we got the infamous “hat flip“).
Jordan Young was in a similar situation to Walker, except he was actually committed to Tennessee (after the Vols basically discovered him). He took an official visit to Florida State the final weekend before National Signing Day and then reportedly cut off all communication with UT.
Isaac Taylor-Stuart spent all day last Wednesday flaunting himself in Vols gear, but then he said something “happened late”. It sounds like USC wasn’t going to have room for him, and then they lost someone (likely Penei Sewell to Oregon), which opened the door for Taylor-Stuart to become a Trojan.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Vols were “hoodwinked” by Jacob Copeland or Olaijah Griffin (two of their top targets). No one really knew what Copeland was going to do through the whole process (including his own mother) and everyone pretty much knew Griffin was staying on the west coast.
While it sucks for Tennessee to have recruits mislead them, it’s just part of college football. This happens every year. And it will continue to happen.
It’s not just recruits, by the way, that do the misleading. It’s not unusual to see programs decline to take a player at the last minute.
As Pruitt said during his introductory press conference, worry about the ones Tennessee gets, not the ones they don’t.
Featured image via Chattanooga Times Free Press