The Tennessee Vols are the hottest recruiting team in the country right now.
In the span of seven days, the Vols landed commitments from two five-star players, three four-star players, and two three-star players (one of which is the top JuCo running back in the nation, and the other is a speedy defensive back who will eventually be a four-star).
As a result of the recent surge in recruiting, Tennessee’s 2021 recruiting class is ranked No. 1 in the SEC and No. 3 in the nation (247Sports).
Jeremy Pruitt has always been known as an elite recruiter. And he’s proving he can do it at Tennessee (along with his staff).
But landing commitments from elite players is only half the battle. It’s a long way until the early signing period (December) and National Signing Day (February). Other programs aren’t going to stop recruiting the elite players that have committed to Tennessee.
If the Vols slip, the Alabamas and Auburns of the college football world will be ready to pounce and wreak havoc on Tennessee’s recruiting class.
That’s why the Vols can’t afford to finish the 2020 season with a worse record than they did in 2019. Finishing as a six or seven win team could potentially wipe out the recruiting success Pruitt and his staff had this week.
Tennessee has to show continued progress in 2020.
Now, that doesn’t mean anyone should be expecting a 10 win season from the Vols this upcoming season. The talent isn’t quite there yet, and the schedule isn’t favorable.
An early trip to Norman to take on Oklahoma is a winnable game for the Vols, but Tennessee will be the underdog.
If we take a quick glance at the schedule and games in which Tennessee could be the favorite, it’s logical to think the Vols go 8-4 (with losses to Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia and Alabama).
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. It means the Vols can’t afford a slip-up against South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri or Arkansas. It means a repeat of Georgia State/BYU absolutely can’t happen.
Though I think Tennessee probably finishes 8-4. Maybe they even spring an upset against Oklahoma or Florida.
Either way, it’s clear there will be some pressure on the Vols in 2020. If the program wants to get back to competing for SEC championships, then winning eight games this upcoming season is critical.
It’s good times on Rocky Top these days, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports/Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports