In the last two weeks, the University of Tennessee has seen five high school players pledge to play football for the Orange and White. The mass influx of commitments has lit a fire in the Volunteer fan base that has been notably lacking in the last three seasons under Derek Dooley. With Butch Jones and company at the helm, VOLS fans have new hope for the future of their storied program. Whether the success on the on recruiting trail is due to the relentless efforts of the staff or the advantage of having a large crop of UT legacy players available this year, is yet to be seen. Either way, with the recent momentum the Volunteers have a chance to break out from the middle of the SEC and finish with one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
Vic Wharton was the first commit to pull the trigger for UT back in December and since then he has taken to Twitter and social media to become the unofficial spokesman for this recruiting class. With the addition of Todd Kelly JR, the two have been persistent in reaching out to other players in hopes of signing a national championship class. Dubbed the UT Legacy Class ’14 on twitter (@UTLegacyClass), the class has the potential to be very special with all the buzz Butch Jones has created surrounding the VOLS program.
Vic Wharton (@VWharton5):
As stated earlier, Vic Wharton was the first player to commit to Butch Jones for the class of 2014. He is the nephew of former VOLS PG Brandon Wharton. Rated as a 3 star by 247 and a 4 star by Rivals, Vic is listed as an athlete but is projected by most to play corner in college. He currently holds SEC offers from State, Ole Miss, and Vandy.
The two words that come to mind when watching Vic’s highlight tapes are versatility and elusiveness. I mean the kid has wheels. He shines in the return game and may be able to make an immediate impact on special teams. The only knock against him is that he changes fields too often instead of running north and south. This works against weak, Tennessee high school competition, but in college, and particularly in the SEC he will have to commit to running up field more. He does show a great vision of the field and finds ways to squeeze out of groups of defenders to find the end zone. Vic lines up at nearly every skill position. Taking snaps, running the ball, catching pass, and playing some defense. He has good hands for a defender and can haul in some pretty amazing balls. If his 4.38 40 time is accurate it will be great to have some true speed in the secondary.
Coleman Thomas (@cthomas55):
Coleman Thomas became the second recruit to commit for the class of 2014 and still remains the only lineman in this class. Rated as the #9 center in the nation and a top 25 player in the state of Virginia, it’s nice to see the staff going after the elite players in Virginia. For Tennessee to have any lasting success they must lock down in-state talent, maintain pipelines to top Georgia/Florida high schools, and recruit decently well in Virginia and the Carolinas.
Todd Kelly JR (@ToddKellyJr6):
Todd Kelly is the biggest defensive pickup so far and another legacy commit. His father, Todd Kelly, played LB/DE for the VOLS and was a late first round draft pick in 1993. Rated as the #4 safety in the country by 247 and a consensus 4 star, he will provide much needed help and depth in the struggling Tennessee secondary (albeit at one of the secondary’s deeper positions of S). Todd Kelly has a 6’1 frame and a good weight coming out of high school (190 lbs). Boosting a 40 time of 4.5 isn’t bad either. He’s also the #2 overall prospect in Tennessee, further proof of the staff’s commitment to locking down the top tier talent in the state. Nearly every SEC program (9 out of 14) has extended TKjr an offer. He has been a vocal recruiter for Tennessee along with Vic Wharton and is actively engaging top prospects via Twitter.
His high school teammate, Brant Mitchell, has recently picked up a Tennessee offer at ILB (http://247sports.com/Player/Brant-Mitchell-30595).
Todd Kelly JR is a safety with a nose for the ball. He attacks the ball, using his height to jump for balls on offense and defense. He positions himself well and when he gets there he brings the wood by hitting hard and driving his feet well through tackles.
Neiko Creamer (@NEIK_BETImossU):
Neiko Creamer is another ATH commit who is projected at the WR position for the VOLS. He has insane size (6’4 and 220 lbs) and plays ILB for his high school team. If he puts on more weight he could end up playing TE but for now he is just a monster 3 star WR. He father, Andre Creamer, played DB but mostly remembered for his PR production for his VOLS in the mid 80’s. Due to his large size, his 40 time isn’t anything amazing (4.68), but that speed with his size is pretty impressive.
Jalen Hurd (@MrHurd18):
Jalen Hurd is the running back recruit that Tennessee fans have been begging for a long time. Dooley never landed that top running back prospect that VOLS fans were accustomed to reeling in. Coach Jay Graham was supposedly going to change that but during his short tenure he too failed to get a top back. Ironically, weeks after he fled for FSU Tennessee received two such running back commitments and Jalen Hurd is highlight of the tandem (5 star running back, top in-state recruit, and top 20 nationally). This is the premier back that Tennessee offenses of the last five years have been missing. His measurable are eye popping. Standing 6’3 and weighing 225, he doesn’t let his size slow him down as he reported a 40 time of 4.37 at the Southern Elite Combine in Oxford, MS. Jalen Hurd ran for 3357 yds on just 317 rushes last year for an AYPC of over 10. Hurd rounds out the third leg of the trinity of VOLS commit recruiters and interestingly enough his bombshell of a mother (@tmsmotherman) hasn’t been shy about tweeting at top level recruits to join her son at the University of Tennessee.
2012 TSSAA 5A State Championship:
Treyvon Paulk (@TreyPaulk1):
Treyvon Paulk is the second RB commit in the 2014 class and hails from Milton HS in GA. If you don’t remember Milton is the recruit factory that produced at least nine D1 prospects last year including Carl Lawson, Peyton Barber, and Isaiah Jones. With Peyton Barber no longer on the roster, look for Paulk’s carries and rushing yard numbers to increase. He’s listed as the #25 overall RB in this class and the 43rd high school prospect in Georgia. He’s not as big or fast as Jalen Hurd but he provides much needed depth at RB with Rajion Neal graduating this year. Behind Neal, there is Marlon Lane and a slew of other untested RBs, so look for the VOLS to possible pick up another RB recruit in this class.