The Tennessee Vols missed on their top 2022 recruiting target on Wednesday when five-star quarterback Ty Simpson committed to Alabama.

Simpson, who is ranked as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the 2022 recruiting class, is an elite in-state prospect who would’ve given new Vols head coach Josh Heupel a huge win on the recruiting trail.

Heupel, unfortunately, never stood a chance of landing Simpson, despite the hard work the Tennessee head coach has put in over the last few weeks.

Simpson is one of the elite recruits in all of college football. He has long-term NFL potential. And he will likely help Alabama win a national championship at some point during his collegiate career.

The fact Tennessee was even a factor after Jeremy Pruitt was fired (Simpson and Pruitt have a great relationship) and the investigation at UT was made public is surprising. That shows that Heupel did a solid job of recruiting Simpson, but the deck was stacked against the Vols.

Why would an elite quarterback choose to go to Tennessee over Alabama or Clemson?

At Alabama (or Clemson), Simpson will instantly be in the Heisman Trophy conversation if he has a stellar season. He’ll compete for SEC titles and a spot in the College Football Playoff. And he’ll have a much better chance of landing in the NFL.

If Simpson had chosen Tennessee, he almost certainly would never sniff the College Football Playoff. And who knows if he’d even get to play in a bowl game. He also wouldn’t have nearly as much talent around him at UT as he will with Alabama.

There was no way Heupel was landing Simpson, and it has nothing to do with him as a head coach. Heupel can’t erase the last decade of struggles for the Vols. And he can’t make the recruiting investigation and looming sanctions go away.

If you want to blame Heupel for missing on Simpson, you should probably redirect your attention to the folks who aren’t in Knoxville anymore. Ultimately, this on Pruitt, former athletic director Phillip Fulmer, and the rest of the coaching staff that made a mess of things the last several years.

I think Heupel has what it takes to make Tennessee competitive again, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
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