Varsity Preps

Tennessee 2014 FBS Recruiting Roundup

There may still be more than six months left until National Signing Day for the class of 2014, but that also means we’re halfway through the cycle! While we’re still waiting for fall practice to start (not long though, as Chattanooga starts tomorrow and the Vols begin August 2nd), it’s almost never a bad time to check in on the class of 2014 classes for each program in the State of Tennessee. Here’s how each class is shaping up so far. (Note: the FCS programs Chattanooga, UT-Martin, Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech, TSU, etc. do not have commitments listed at this point in the season.)

Tennessee
Butch Jones has brought new life to the Tennessee program and it’s shown in a major way through recruiting. The Vols have the #1 class according to Rivals, which is comprised of 24 commitments. That number is tied for most in the country (Miami) and is almost five times larger than the class of 2013 was at this point under former head coach Derek Dooley. Of those 24 commits, 12 are rated 4-stars. Some of the highlights of this class, and there are many, are RB Jalen Hurd (pictured above), DB Todd Kelly Jr., LB Dillon Bates, S Cortez McDowell, and WR Dominique Booth to name a few. Hurd is the top player in Tennessee and the #5 RB in the nation. He is a versatile power back who can also find the gap and create separation. Kelly is the #8 DB and the 4th best player in the state, right out of Knoxville. The 6’1″ 190lb son of a Vol great is primarily a Safety and runs a 4.5 40 time. Bates, another “legacy” recruit, will join Kelly on the defense, providing immediate depth at OLB after the Vols upperclassman heavy Linebacker core plays what is likely it’s final season on the Hill. McDowell, a smart and speedy Safety, will join Kelly in the secondary and provide much-needed depth on the Tennessee defense. Dominique Booth, a 6’1″ 200lb WR is a big time threat going across the middle or down the field. He will fit in nicely with Tennessee’s new spread offense. Jalen Hurd, Beech Highlights 2012

Vanderbilt
James Franklin has done some impressive work for the program since his arrival in Nashville, leading the ‘Dores to successes never-before-seen on the football field. He has turned the SEC doormat into a solid threat in the SEC East, and the key to their success has been recruiting. Somehow, Franklin has turned Vandy into a hot commodity. The Commodore class of 2014 to this point is ranked #20 according to Rivals, and has 17 commitments thus far. Of those 17, only 3 are rated as 4-stars, but they have solid players that haven’t been heavily rated. Among the headliners are QB KJ Carta-Samuels, the brother of Vanderbilt QB Austin Carta-Samuels, S Emmanuel Smith, RB Mikale Wilbon, and DT Michael Sawyers. Carta-Samuels, a top 10 pro-style QB, is a 4-star prospect that impressed many with not only his physical abilities in passing, but his mental prowess on the field. He is an excellent decision maker and it’s easy to see him leading the Vanderbilt offense in the coming years. Smith and Sawyers are both top 15 Tennessee prospects that Vandy was able to take after strong battles with UT. They will be a key part of the ‘Dores defense that will be looking to replace some key players after 2013. And Chicago RB Mikale Wilbon can be a vital part of the offense, filling the shoes of recent backs Stacy, Tate, and Norman. at 5’9″ 190lb, he is a small, speedy back who can easily find gaps as well as be an extra receiver. KJ Carta-Samuels Junior Highlights

Middle Tennessee State
The Blue Raiders are coming off of a season where they were bowl eligible, but due to a situation where the AD was trying to find more bowl offers, the one that did offer MTSU went somewhere else and the now former Sun Belt member was left without postseason play. The class of 2014 for the Blue Raiders is off to a pretty good start, receiving nine commits to this point. The most notable prospects going to play for MTSU are: TE Sean Smith, a 6’6″ 230lb big man who has decent speed for his size, running a 4.7 40. He has ample blocking ability for the run, but could be a HUGE target for the pass in the redzone. Carlos Johnson is a Nashville offensive lineman that will come in and replenish depth for the Blue Raiders on the line. And he can fill some space. At 6’3″ 305lb and with pretty good footwork, he will be tough for any C-USA team’s defensive line to manage. Sean Smith Highlights

Memphis
The Tigers, known by many Vandy and Tennessee fans as “Tiger High” for better or for worse, is finally making a jump to a league with better competition, joining once heated rival, Louisville, in the AAC. Memphis is lagging behind other TN FBS programs in recruiting, but that is not a surprise because of the recent struggles on the field. But, the class of 2014 does have four commitments, including Texas pro-style QB Clay Holgorsen and offensive lineman Chase Johnson, out of Mississippi. Both will provide much-needed depth on offense Memphis will play much tougher competition in the AAC than they grew accustomed to in the C-USA. The offense was able to put up points with some regularity, but it was often the defense, as well as a lack of FBS-level depth that kept the Tigers from closing games out. Clay Holgorsen Highlights

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