Staff Recommendations: March 2018

Put some spring in your step for the rest of March with the Tennessee Journalist’s latest entertainment recommendations:

Novel: “Ready Player One”

Dystopian future and video game fans, get ready. “Ready Player One” takes readers to the year 2044 and immerses them in a virtual reality world where everyone tries to escape reality. When the virtual reality game creator dies, a video spreads. The video reveals that whoever can find the “Easter eggs” in the game will win his fortune. While the novel was originally published in 2011, the film adaptation premieres this year on March 29. According to the New York Times Best Sellers list for combined print and e-book fiction, “Ready Player One” spent 16 weeks on the list and is currently ranked as #7.


“Found/Tonight,” performed by Ben Platt of Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Hamilton” composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, rocks the charts to continue the revolutionary show’s success. The song sits at #1 on the iTunes charts. Earlier this year, Miranda said one original song would be released every month thanks to the popularity of not only the “Hamilton” soundtrack but also the follow-up album, the “Hamilton Mixtape”. Thus far, “The Hamilton Polka,” “Ben Franklin’s Song,” and “Wrote My Way Out Remix” are the only other released #Hamildrops. “Found/Tonight” mashes the songs “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Story of Tonight” from “Hamilton.”

Movie: “Love, Simon”

“Love, Simon,” based on the 2016 novel “Simon vs. the Homo SapiensAgenda” by Becky Albertalli, is a coming of age and coming out story of Simon Spier. Spier, a seventeen-year-old guy yet to come out to his family and friends, finds himself in love with an anonymous classmates online. The movie, which debuted at 92% Fresh on, received positive feedback from both critics and fans alike. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone film critic said, “A seemingly ordinary coming-of-age tale that looms large because of its inclusive romantic embrace, ‘Love, Simon’ wins you over by capturing your heart without pushing too hard for the prize.” “Love, Simon” also received praise for being the first mainstream studio film to feature a gay teen as the main character. The film, in theaters now, classifies as both a romantic comedy and dramatic film, funny and uplifting.

TV Shows: “Once Upon a Time,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Young Sheldon”

For fans of fantasy, Disney, or fairytale stories, “Once Upon a Time” is the perfect show, including favorite story book characters in tales of adventure, romance, and heroism. The series concludes May 18 after seven adventurous seasons. Before the series finale, catch up on the show’s past seasons wherever you stream shows.

Following the “Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon” focuses on the backstory of child-prodigy Sheldon Cooper. Sheldon faces bullies and other struggles as a 9-year-old boy in high school. “Young Sheldon” showcases his antics in a comedic and heartwarming way. The show also marks the television return of Annie Potts, who shines in her typical southern, sassy role as Meemaw. The show can be found on CBS Thursdays at 8:30 ET.

Television fans looking forward to the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Avenger’s Infinity War, should check out Netflix original series “Jessica Jones.” The show  offers a new look into the same Marvel universe. Jessica Jones, a former superhero, is now a private investigator in New York City. The series ties in other Marvel characters such as Luke Cage as crime unfolds. Season two debuted March 8.


Vols’ 2018 National Signing Day: Pruitt signs multiple defenders

Tennessee has finished up its 2018 National Signing Day recruiting cycle and the Vols landed themselves the No. 20 overall ranked recruiting class according to

Head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his assistants are proud of where they went with this class, regardless of where they are ranked.

“We’re excited about the 20 young men we’ve added to this class,” Pruitt said. “These guys are going to lay the foundation for the next four to five years.”

The Vols finished the official signing day with six total signees, and five of the six came on defense.

3-Star Trevon Flowers, freshman, safety, 6-1, 185 lbs.

From: Tucker HS, Georgia.

A former baseball player who only played one year of high school football, Flowers chose to come to school and forego playing major league baseball.

“He played shortstop on his high school team and he’d possibly be getting drafted but wants to go to school,” Pruitt said. “He wants to play football and he’s going to be really good at it,”

Flowers is a versatile defensive player and will most likely be used as Pruitt’s prototypical “Minkah Fitzpatrick” type of player, otherwise known as the “star” position in Pruitt’s 3-4 style defense.

Pruitt sees Flowers playing a large role in the defense down the road.

“The good thing is he’s only done it for a year so he doesn’t have any bad habits. He could come play corner for us, he could play star, he could play safety. When we get him here we’ll see what he’s best suited for.”

He is expected to play everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and Pruitt doesn’t see him having a problem with that.

“(Flowers is) a very unique individual, has a very good skill set as a defensive back and could probably play all six positions back there,”Pruitt said. “I think this guy’s going to be a very good player for us one day.”

3-Star Kurott Garland, freshman, defensive lineman, 6-3, 250 lbs. 

From: Heritage HS, Georgia.

Garland was a player the staff was looking at in between preparing for the playoffs and getting settled in at Tennessee.

“(Garland) was a young man that we found kind of over the break … looking through all the all-state teams just trying to find guys that possibly were under the radar,” Pruitt said. “He fits a need as far as a guy that can play defensive tackle for us … he’s going to be a really good football player.”

Garland, an undersized defensive tackle in Pruitt’s defense, would have to bulk up in order to receive significant playing time this upcoming season. Pruitt’s prototypical defensive tackle is roughly 285 pounds and takes up a lot of space in the middle of the defense.

4-Star Emmit Gooden, junior, defensive lineman, 6-4, 305 lbs.

From: Haywood HS/ Independence C.C. – JUCO.

Gooden is a transfer from junior college that has been trying to get to the university for a couple years now. After a stint at Independence Community College, Gooden is close to returning to his dream school.

“He’s going to finish up in May,” Pruitt said. “He has a little bit of work to do, but he’s a big man … really good motor, and another guys that fits for us inside with what we’re trying to do defensively.”

Gooden chose to return to Tennessee over Mississippi State, West Virginia and Arkansas. He also had offers from Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

3-Star John Mincey, freshman, defensive lineman, 6-4, 255 lbs. 

From: Clinch County HS, Georgia.

Mincey is a player that the staff has had their eyes on for a couple of years, and Pruitt is glad he decided to choose the Vols over South Carolina.

“Probably all of our guys on staff have had him in camp at some point in time,” Pruitt said. “He’s very athletic, plays basketball, and that’s another guy on the defensive front.”

Although he fits the frame of an ideal 3-4 defensive tackle, Pruitt believes he needs to put on some weight and fill out to compete for playing time this upcoming season – as Mincey sits at 255 pounds.

Mincey chose the Vols over South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn and Florida.

4-Star, JJ Peterson, freshman, linebacker, 6-2, 230 lbs. 

Colquitt County HS, Georgia.

Peterson is the crown and jewel of the class, plain and simple. Peterson was thought late to be considering flipping his commitment from Pruitt and the Vols to Alabama, but made himself a household name by sticking with his commitment on a patchy signing day for the big orange.

Peterson received high praise from his new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, and rightfully so. Peterson is the No. 48 overall player in the class, and one that Nick Saban pushed hard for, which left the Tide short of a coveted outside linebacker.

“We would have liked to have two inside linebackers but we got one,” Saban said in his press conference after the Tide wrapped up their 2018 recruiting cycle.

Pruitt is very optimistic about Peterson and his on-field ability.

“(JJ Peterson) has a very unique skill set at linebacker and can actually play all four positions, inside or outside,” Pruitt said. “He’s a guy that can play man-to-man on third down, he can rush the quarterback, but he’s a guy that can make plays in space also.”

Pruitt held on tight to his highest rated target, and wants the fan base to know it won’t be that way next spring.

“Give this staff a full year,” Pruitt said. “When you look at the rankings next year on National Signing Day, we’re gonna be right at the top.”

Edited by Seth Raborn