The Big Board: TE and OL
We move onto the line of scrimmage today on the Big Board as we take a closer look at who the Vols are chasing on the offensive line and at tight end. The Vols already have two, instate offensive line commitments but are hoping to take at least two, if not three more offensive linemen, with a priority being on tackles.
Below we take a look at some of the top offensive line and tight end/h-back targets for Tennessee.
Torrance Gibson QB, 6-4/195, Plantation, Fla.
Tennessee currently leads for the four-star quarterback out of South Florida but his recruitment will be one of the more interesting ones down the stretch. Gibson visited Tennessee in the spring and came away calling it the best visit of the several he took on a spring tour. Along with the Vols, Auburn, LSU and Ohio State are very much in the mix and he plans more visits this summer, including his first to Ohio State.
What will make the race for Gibson more interesting is that he continues to say he will hold off committing until after his senior season and after taking official visits.
Deondre Francois QB, 6-1/192, Bradenton, Fla.
The Vols have turned up the heat on Francois the last few months as he's become a top target for Tennessee. Ohio State, Auburn, Florida State, Oregon and Tennessee round out his top five at this point and he plans on visiting the Buckeyes, Tigers and Vols in the near future. He also hopes to make a trip to Oregon.
Francois will decided at The Opening in early July and his summer visits will go a long way to determining where he ends up. He recently admitted that Tennessee is recruiting him the hardest, followed by the instate Seminoles.
Sheriron Jones QB, 6-2/189, Moreno Valley, Calif.
Tennessee became the second SEC school to offer Jones recently after offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian evaluated the quarterback several times this spring. Jones has now said he'll visit Knoxville the weekend of June 6, when the Vols will host a quarterback camp as well as Monday Night Football analyst, and friend of Butch Jones, John Gruden.
Florida is a major player for Jones and some in Gainesville believe he's the Gator's top quarterback target at the moment. He expects to see Florida later this summer as well.
Travis Waller QB, 6-2/195, Anaheim, Calif.
Waller's stock has steadily climbed this spring as coaches have visited the California quarterback. Alabama is the most recent school to offer and it seems Ohio State and Oregon may be close to pulling the trigger as well. Tennessee offered earlier in the spring and there seems to be mutual interest there as well. But, will Waller make a visit to Knoxville before he intends to commit at the end of the summer?
With quarterback dominoes continuing to fall across the country Waller could be someone who continues to pick up offers from numerous schools.
Sam Darnold QB, 6-5/210, San Clemente, Calif.
Darnold has recently become a major prospect for several schools after coaches were able to see him this spring. Darnold only played in a handful of games his junior season before he suffered a broken foot kept him out of action for the majority of the season. But, Darnold has a big frame, a nice arm and good athleticism for someone his size and Tennessee offered a few weeks ago.
Darnold admitted distance from home may play a factor, but he still wants to visit Tennessee, along with several other schools like Northwestern. One interesting team to remember is Stanford. Darnold plans to camp for the Cardinal this summer and if they offer expect him to jump on that fairly quickly. Utah, his first offer, could be a factor as well.
Bryce Love RB, 5-10/184, Wake Forest, N.C.
Tennessee hosted Love earlier in the spring and he came away very impressed and the Vols have positioned themselves to be a real player here. But, they don't seem to be the only school early on. Love recently made his way to Stanford for an unofficial visit and that can't be ignored, neither can North Carolina who has Love as one of their top overall targets.
One tie that will continue to help Tennessee is the fact that Tommy Thigpen played football at North Carolina with Love's uncle. But, then again, Love's father played football at South Carolina but the Gamecocks don't seem to be as big a player as others.
Mike Weber RB, 5-10/205, Detroit, Mich.
The Detroit product has made his way south several times now to visit the Vols, including earlier this spring when Weber and several other Cass Tech products visited Tennessee. The Vols are in the mix with several Big 10 schools, including home-state teams Michigan and Michigan State, as well as Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Weber plans to make a Florida swing this summer and don't rule out him visiting the Vols once again, but the Big 10 teams have made him a priority and it will be tough to get him out of the Midwest.
Alvin Kamara RB, 5-11/205, Norcross, Ga.
It's the second time the Vols will make a run at Kamara after initially pursuing him when he came out of high school in 2013. Now, as a junior college back at Hutchison Community College in Kansas, Kamara is looking to rebound after one year at Alabama and its loaded backfield. Kamara visited Tennessee last weekend and although he hasn't talked about his visit some close to his recruitment said it went well.
What helps Tennessee in this situation is his close friendship with current Vols Ryan Jenkins and Jason Croom, but he's also close with several players at Georgia as well. Right now, this is shaping up to be a 'Dawgs vs. Vols battle, but it's still early.
Mon Denson RB, 5-10/215, LaGrange, Ga.
Denson had a big spring that earned him more than 15 offers including Tennessee and the Vols have become a real factor for the Georgia tailback. Right now, it seems the Vols and North Carolina have a bit of separation from the rest of the pack and Denson has yet to visit Tennessee but is counting on that changing this summer. Other schools, like Wisconsin, Arkansas, N.C. State and Kansas State are in play as well.
Christian Kirk WR, 5-10/190, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The No. 3-ranked wide receiver in the country visited Tennessee Tuesday as he makes a swing through the South to see several other schools, including Georgia, where he visited Monday, Alabama and Auburn. Kirk has already said he will officially visit Texas A&M and Ohio State so count those two schools as contenders as well.
Look for USC and UCLA to remain involved as well and there doesn't seem to be a lot of chatter about the instate schools at this time. Don't be surprised if Kirk includes one or two teams from the SEC for his official visits in the fall.
Van Jefferson WR, 6-1/170, Brentwood, Tenn.
Jefferson visited the Vols earlier in the spring along with his father, Tennessee Titans wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, and both came away impressed with receivers coach Zach Azzanni, especially the elder Jefferson. For the younger Jefferson, Tennessee is one of several teams sticking out right now, particularly the Vols and Ohio State.
Georgia is very much in the mix as well with Jefferson and a few other schools, like Clemson, South Carolina and Penn State, are possible visit destinations this summer. Jefferson has talked about a summer decision and Jefferson plans more summer visits before an eventual decision.
Alex Ofodile WR, 6-3/180, Columbia, Mo.
The son of former Missouri Tiger tight end A.J. Ofodile has taken numerous visits over the last five months and that include a stop in Knoxville for spring practice. Ofofile was visited several times but Zach Azzanni this spring as Ofodile looks like one of Tennessee's big receivers already on campus. Ofodile has yet to really narrow anything down, but Missouri, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Iowa all received visits this spring.
Don't be surprised if Ofodile let his recruitment play out until the fall.
Ryan Davis WR, 5-10/161, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Davis received a Tennessee offer in early May and since then here seems to be real mutual interest between both Tennessee and Davis. Davis was visited by Robert Gillespie and Zach Azzanni this spring and he hopes to return the favor and visit the Vols this summer.
The consensus in the Sunshine State is that Florida State will be hard to beat out for Davis, but Tennessee, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Missouri and numerous other schools are beginning to pursue him hard. Davis maintains though he is very wide open at this point.
Johnathan Johnson WR, 5-8/174, Memphis, Tenn.
Johnson has been on the Tennessee radar since an impressive sophomore season that was followed up by a great camp season last spring that lead to a strong performance at Tennessee's summer camp where he was offered. Johnson said will again camp at Tennessee this summer as he continues to work to show the coaches they had the right call on pulling the trigger.
If the Vols were to make a strong push for Johnson it's not hard to believe they would land the Memphis native. Missouri recently entered the picture and Ole Miss is a factor as well as Mississippi State.
Chris Clark TE, 6-6/245, Avon, Conn.
After Tennessee's tight end haul in 2014 the position isn't the priority it was last year. But, that doesn't mean the Vols aren't giving it a go for arguably the most talented and complete tight end in the country in Clark. Clark has seemed to strike up a relationship with Tennessee tight ends coach Mark Elder and he will be making his way to Knoxville early next week to see what the Vols are all about.
But, it will be tough competition as Clark has said the Michigan and Michigan State are ahead of Tennessee and Arizona State, his final group, right now. Getting him on campus is a start, but the Vols will have to make strong push to land Clark.
Christian Owens TE/WR, 6-5/205, Griffin, Ga.
Owens makes the list as a TE/WR hybrid as he's got a great frame and athleticism to match. He visited Tennessee earlier this spring and came away very impressed and it looks like the Vols are in the thick of it now thanks to the strong visit. But, Owens has been committed to Georgia for some time and the Dawgs are never easy to overcome in their home state.
For now, consider Tennessee in the race as Owens continues to explore his options.
Chandler Cox H-BACK, 6-2/2220, Apopka, Fla.
Cox is unlike anyone Tennessee has on its roster at this time and that's why he's being recruited so hard by the Vols as a true H-Back. Cox, like numerous other prospects on this list, visited the Vols earlier this spring and came away very impressed. He has several ties to Tennessee, including his father at one point being a Tennessee football commitment in high school, but the Vols are facing tough competition.
After a recent visit to Auburn Cox admitted the Tigers have the lead for his services at this time. While Tennessee is still in the hunt, this one seems to be trending towards Auburn.
Drew Richmond OL, 6-6/313, Memphis, Tenn.
Richmond has been a top priority for Butch Jones and his staff since they got on the job in December of 2012 and that hasn't changed. Richmond has visited the Vols numerous times now, most recently for the Orange and White Game when he made the trip from West Tennessee to Knoxville with now current Vol Charles Mosley.
Tennessee has positioned itself strongly heading into Richmond's scheduled Sept. 9 commitment date and while Ole Miss, Auburn, Ohio State and a few others are making a push, Tennessee will be tough to beat here.
Alex Givens OL, 6-6/276, Nashville, Tenn.
Givens has seen his stock soar this spring once teams started visited Nashville Christian to see what the offensive tackle had to offer. Givens has the size, and more importantly, a very high ceiling as a tackle that coaches like to see in offensive linemen. Right now, Givens claims that Ole Miss is the team on top since they were one of the first teams to offer and come after him hard.
Tennessee has been coming on strong recently for Givens, though and it seems they are making a push as well. Ohio State is in the mix after offering and Auburn could be as well if they pulled the trigger. He's expected to take several more visits this summer before deciding.
Austin Clark OL, 6-5/295, Lexington, Va.
Clark is nearing the end of his recruitment with a decision set for June. Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Ohio State are the four schools that that Clark will decide between, but it seems the decision is still up in the air. At one point, most believed Clark would end up a Vol but since then South Carolina has made a strong push and Virginia Tech is firmly in the mix as well.
Another visit to South Carolina and possible visits to see the Hokies and the Vols remain before his decision and those very well may be big factors in his decision.
Brandon Kennedy OL, 6-2/293, Wetumpka, Ala.
Kennedy saw his stock take a giant jump this spring after he had an outstanding performance at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour stop in Birmingham where he showed he was the best offensive lineman at the event on that day. Since then, Kennedy has picked up numerous offers, including Tennessee and will visit the Vols on Wedesnday.
Unlike the other players on this list, Kennedy is projects as an interior offensive lineman and could play guard or center at the next level. Tennessee has a chance to make a strong early impression on his visit as he hasn't taken many trips thus far.
Tyree St. Louis OL, 6-5/300, Bradenton, Fla.
At one point Tennessee was the team to beat for St. Louis but then he started to blow up. St. Louis has been to Tennessee each of the past two summers and has gotten to know the Tennessee staff fairly well. But, now the in-state schools have made him a priority and it will be tough to get him out of the state.
Right now, Florida seems to be pushing the hardest out of the in-state programs and St. Louis is paying a good amount of attention to the Gators. But, it will be interesting to see how Florida's season goes and how hot Will Muschamp's seat becomes in Gainesville.
Abdul Bello OL, 6-5/298, Montverde, Fla.
Bello has one of the more interesting stories because he moved from his native Nigeria last September and only played in six games last fall and has now become a national recruit. Tennessee was one of the first teams to offer Bello but since then Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU and many others have offered as well
Bello has only visited Florida and Florida State thus far and they have to be seen as the favorites as they are the closest to his support system in the Sunshine State. But, Bello has said he will visit Tennessee this summer and most likely for an official visit because of his relationship with Don Mahoney.