Despite having a top-20 class in the 2019 recruiting cycle, Jeremy Pruitt hasn’t heavily targeted in-state players. This is not due to a lack of talent as the state has 11 players in ESPN’s top 300. Nine of these recruits are already committed, with just one (Jackson Lampley) committed to the Vols. Lampley is also the only high school recruit from Tennessee committed to the Vols.
As mentioned earlier, this hasn’t prevented UT from having success on the recruiting trail. Jeremy Pruitt already has one 5-star committed in Wanya Morris and is in the running for a few others. Among these big names are Quavaris Crouch, Darnell Wright, and Khris Bogle.
Pruitt never seemed to pay more attention to players because they were in-state. He has shown that he is more concerned with finding players that meet a size requirement. All three of Tennessee’s offensive line commits are at least 6’4” and 290 lbs. Pruitt does not seem intrigued with defensive backs or wide receivers under 6-feet tall. The states two best cornerbacks in this class are both under 6-feet tall, neither of which Pruitt heavily pursued. One of these players is Maurice Hampton, the top in state player who has been committed to LSU for two years. The staff may have felt that they couldn’t flip him. Meanwhile, the other is Woodi Washington. Tennessee seemed to have mild interest in him, but never seemed to heavily pursue Washington. He recently committed to Oklahoma.
Pruitt also showed little interest in running back Eric Gray. While only 5’10”, Gray has shown he is a dynamic playmaker throughout high school. Once again, size may have prevented the Vols from pursuing Gray. He committed to Michigan on July 1st and holds offers from 20 schools.
One player that the Vols wanted was Kane Patterson. The inside linebacker committed to Ohio State last week. While many other players from the state never garnered much attention from the Vols, Pruitt and defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer wanted Patterson. However, after coming off of a 4-8 season, it is understandable for Patterson to see the allure of Ohio State and coach Urban Meyer.
The Vols have shown a lot of interest in wide receiver Trey Knox from Murfreesboro. He seems to fit Pruitt’s measurements as he is 6’4” and would compete at outside receiver. Losing out on Knox would show that Tennessee’s recruiting strategy for in-state players may need to change.
Pruitt has been able to pull players from other states and is slowly building a very solid class. The fact that in-state players are committing elsewhere is probably due to them not fitting Pruitt’s system. While he should focus on players who fit his system, Pruitt must be careful not to hurt relations with in-state high schools.