Crootin’ Corner

TNJN assistant sports editor Nathan Odom is hot on the Tennessee recruiting trail. Check out the first edition of his weekly recruiting column, Crootin’ Corner.

Photo by Kevan Elkins

Photo by Kevan Elkins

Welcome to the first edition of the Crootin’ Corner, a weekly column where I will recap all things recruiting around Tennessee football.

New Offers

Cole Kmet, four-star TE Kmet is a 2017 recruit out of St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is ranked the No. 244 player overall for the class of 2017 and the No. 6 TE in the class according to 247Sports Composite. Kmet has quite an offer list. Defending national champion Ohio State, Notre Dame, Baylor, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and now Tennessee have offered, among others. So far, his only three 247 Crystal Ball predictions have all been for Notre Dame.

Film: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2933537/highlights/201586376/v2

There’s a lot to like about Cole. His sophomore tape shows that he already has some key intangibles that will make him a successful college tight end. He has a solid frame, standing about 6′ 5″ and weighing 230 pounds.

I was most impressed with Kmet’s ability to throw and hold good blocks, especially on the edge. A good portion of his sophomore film is just Kmet opening holes for a short pass route. He does not have blazing acceleration, but he makes up for it with his ability to high point the ball in air and stay focused on catches where he knows he will get hit. As his strength and size continue to improve, he could be a big and dangerous downfield target.

Lamont Wade, four-star CB — Wade is a 2017 four-star recruit as well. He is from Clairton High School in Clairton, Pennsylvania, and is one of the more coveted recruits in the country. 247Sports Composite has him listed as the No. 55 overall player in the 2017 class, as well as the No. 7 cornerback in a stacked class of defensive backs. Like Kmet, Wade’s offer list is impressive and constantly growing: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Auburn, Wisconsin, UCLA, and now Tennessee have offered, among others. Four of his seven 247 Crystal Ball predictions are to Ohio State.

Film: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3344522/highlights/240923376/v2

Wade is a freak of an athlete. He is equally impressive on both sides of the ball, and recruiters across the country are continuing to take notice. On the offensive side of the ball, Wade was primarily used out of the backfield. Once the ball is in his hands, the show begins.

He has the ability to make the first tackler miss, something that all elite playmakers have.  His speed is rarely matched on the field. Wade’s vision leads him to more open space and more scores, something that is evident when I see him turn a busted blocking assignment into an impressive touchdown run.

Although the athleticism is there, I think he probably just is not as fit to play on that side of the ball. His frame — 5’10” and 180 pounds — fits more of a nickel or speedy corner position. He uses his athleticism to stay with receivers in their patterns and hardly ever gets tripped up by a move. When he goes into tackle, his center of gravity is low, allowing him to channel his lower body strength and deliver some brutal hits. The only concern I have with Wade is that he could be outmatched by a 6’4″ receiver in a one-on-one situation, but that goes for any smaller cornerback.

Week Two Visitors

Here is a list of the most notable visitors that were in town to watch Tennessee take on Oklahoma.

2016 Targets

Mecole Hardman Jr., five-star ATH (No. 25 overall player in 2016 class, No. 1 athlete)

Nigel Warrior, four-star S (No. 62 overall player in 2016 class, No. 4 safety)

Joejuan Williams, four-star CB (No. 191 overall player in 2016 class, No. 16 cornerback)

Tennessee is attempting to get at least two of these guys. Williams, an in-state prospect, seems the most likely candidate to join the Vols’ 2016 commit list. Nigel Warrior and Mecole Hardman Jr. have both been high on the Vols, but Georgia has all the momentum with Hardman Jr.

2017 Targets

DeAngelo Gibbs, five-star CB (No. 4 overall player in 2017 class, No. 1 cornerback)

Maleik Gray, four-star ATH (No. 49 overall player in 2017 class, No. 3 athlete)

Ty Chandler, four-star RB (No. 111 overall player in 2017 class, No. 9 running back)

Amari Rodgers, four-star WR (No. 239 overall player in 2017 class, No. 37 wide receiver)

Getting DeAngelo Gibbs on campus this early is a huge win on the recruiting trail for Tennessee. Gibbs is one of the best players in the 2017 class and is showing mutual interest in the Vols. Gray, Chandler and Rodgers are all in-state guys that Butch Jones would love to keep in Tennessee. Rodgers, the son of former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin, is committed to the University of Southern California.

2018 Targets

Trevor Lawrence, five-star QB (No. 1 overall player in 2018 class according to 247Sports)

Camron Johnson, four-star WR (No. 72 overall player and No. 5 wide receiver in 2018 class according to 247Sports)

Mike Jones Jr., four-star SDE (No. 89 overall player and No. 4 strong-side defensive end in 2018 class according to 247Sports)

Lawrence, the No. 1 overall player for the class of 2018 according to 247Sports, is already high on the Vols. He would be a huge get for Tennessee after Hunter Johnson, the No. 1 quarterback in the 2017 class according to 247Sports Composite, committed to Tennessee in late August. Johnson and Jones Jr. are early in-state names that Vol fans might want to hold on to.

Commits

Of course, Tennessee also hosted a number of commitments this weekend. Marquille Osborne, Daniel Bituli, Carlin Fils-Aime, Ryan Johnson, Austin Pope, Hunter Johnson, newly-committed Tee Higgins and Cade Mays were all in attendance to watch the Vols take on Oklahoma.

Givin’ the dog a Bone: Although Tennessee did not get any football commitments after an electric weekend in Knoxville, Rick Barnes and the Tennessee basketball team picked up a good one. Jordan Bone, the brother of former Tennessee player Josh Bone, became the Vols’ first 2016 hoops commitment. Bone is the nation’s No. 151 overall prospect and the No. 27 point guard, according to 247Sports.

All recruiting stats and info are provided by 247Sports Composite rankings unless otherwise noted.

Featured image by Kevan Elkins

Edited by Cody McClure

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Nathan is a junior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He spends most of his free time eating meaningless foods and watching sports. If you wish to contact Nathan, you can email him at wodom3@vols.utk.edu or find him on Twitter, @NathanOdom11.