Tennessee 2016 Signing Day Preview

Tennessee is looking for a few big gets on Signing Day to add to an already-impressive 2016 class.

Coach Butch Jones speaks with the white team after a series. Photo by Zach Dennis.

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College football fans, rejoice. National Signing Day 2016 is almost upon us! The day that die-hard college football fans wait for to find out where top high school players will be playing in college is almost here. With just a day before the final announcements are made, let’s take a look at the Volunteers’ class so far.

Notable Commits: Tennessee has already compiled an impressive class yet again under Butch Jones. Names such as Jarrett Guarantano, Marquill Osborne, Marquez Callaway, Daniel Bituli, and Ryan Johnson have continued Butch’s streak of great recruiting. Guarantano figures to compete for the starting quarterback job after Josh Dobbs plays out his final season on Rocky Top, Osborne (cornerback) and Bituli (linebacker) will further improve an already sound defense, and Johnson (offensive tackle) and Callaway (receiver) look to add even more talent and depth to Tennessee’s explosive offense. Alexis Johnson (defensive tackle) continues the streak of great defensive line recruiting for the Vols, which has the potential to get even better on signing day.

The Rest of the Class: Not to be overshadowed by the top commits, everyone in Tennessee’s recruiting class of 2016 are fantastic players. The Vols continue the trend of bringing in excellent WR talent with the additions of Jeff George, Brandon Johnson, and Corey Henderson. There will be more offensive line depth in Knoxville next season as tackles Marcus Tatum and Nathan Niehaus will be joining Big Orange Country. Carlin Fils-aime will provide even more depth and talent for Tennessee’s top-notch backfield. The tight end position looks to have more players next year with the additions of Austin Pope and Devante Brooks. Bituli will be joined at linebacker by Ja’Quain Blakely. And Desmond Henderson and Baylen Buchanan add more depth to the secondary.

Un-Committed Players: Though the class is already quite strong, Tennessee is not done yet, and they have several high-profile prospects that have yet to make a decision.

Derrick Brown: Brown is a 5-star DT from Georgia who possesses both elite athleticism and a readiness to play right away at the college ranks. Although Tennessee does have Khalil Mackenzie and Shy Tuttle, the DT depth behind them is not very impressive. Brown would go a long way to adding another young player who could play inside and make the Vols’ defensive line even more dangerous. Most recruiting sources think that his decision is one that will come to down to Alabama, Auburn, or Tennessee. However, Brown has not officially released a top three list. He will announce his commitment on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Jonathan Kongbo: A 6’6″, 264 pound monster of a defensive end, Kongbo would be an absolutely massive addition to this year’s recruiting class. He is a perfect fit for the hybrid DE-OLB position that Curt Maggitt played so effectively. He would also bring even more defensive line talent to Tennessee, something the Vols have been stockpiling through recruiting the past few years. Although some were worried after he de-committed from Tennessee, it seems as though that may not be permanent after he announced his top four schools: Florida State, Ole Miss, Southern California, and Tennessee. Kongbo is one to watch for on National Signing Day.

Nigel Warrior: Warrior is yet another defensive back that would be a huge addition to the Tennessee secondary. He is excellent at controlling his body and putting himself in positions to make plays, attributes that make him best suited for the free safety position. Although he is still considering Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and LSU, many believe Warrior will become a Vol. His father, Dale Carter, is a Tennessee alumnus and comments that he made have alluded to Warrior already deciding to come to Rocky Top. Warrior is set to announce his decision at 8 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Landon Dickerson: A fantastic OT prospect out of North Carolina, Dickerson would be outstanding for the Vols and bring in more talent and depth to the offensive line. With a real opportunity to compete for the SEC East and earn a trip to Atlanta for the conference championship game, Dickerson would certainly help boost those chances. Tennessee is among the three perceived favorites, which also include Florida State and Alabama. He is set to announce his decision around 12 p.m. ET on ESPNU on Wednesday.

Tyler Byrd: Byrd is an elite cornerback prospect who, if he came to Tennessee, would complete an incredibly impressive defensive back recruiting class for the Vols. The interesting thing is that Byrd has been committed to Miami and was not even on Tennessee’s radar until a few weeks ago. When the Vols hired Larry Scott from Miami’s staff, Scott was able to get Tennessee a visit from Byrd to, at the very least, consider flipping his commitment to Rocky Top. Carlin Fils-aime, a Tennessee commit, is very close to Byrd and has been attempting to convince him to come be a Volunteer. This would be quite an impressive feat if Tennessee’s staff could pull off such a high-profile flip this late in the process.

 

The Class (as it currently stands):

Player                             Position          Rank                Committed

Jarrett Guarantano         QB              4-Star              4/15/2015

Marquez Callaway        ATH               4-Star              1/21/2016

Marquill Osborne           CB                4-Star              1/13/2016 (enrolled)

Daniel Bituli                   OLB               4-Star              7/18/2015

Ryan Johnson                 OT                4-Star              7/19/2014

Carlin Fils-aime              RB                4-Star              7/20/2015

Alexis Johnson                DT                4-Star              1/13/2016 (enrolled)

Jeff George                     WR                 3-Star              1/13/2016 (enrolled)

Desmond Henderson     CB               3-Star              1/13/2016 (enrolled)

Marcus Tatum                 OT               3-Star              1/11/2016

Brandon Johnson           WR              3-Star              9/2/2015

Ja’Quain Blakely            OLB               3-Star              8/1/2015

Corey Henderson           WR              3-Star              3/30/2015

Austin Pope                     TE                3-Star              6/15/2015

Devante Brooks               TE               3-Star              1/15/2015

Baylen Buchanan            CB               3-Star              1/1/2016

Nathan Niehaus              OT              3-Star              1/1/2016

Edited by Nathan Odom

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Adam is the Assistant Sports Editor for the Tennessee Journalist and a Junior at UT. Most of his free time is spent watching sports, listening to good music, and enjoying life. If you wish to contact him, you can email him at amillike@vols.utk.edu, follow him on Twitter, @AdamMilliken14, or find him at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/adam-milliken/109/a89/a32.