Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss where Tennessee goes after cornerback Rashaan Gaulden declared for the 2018 NFL Draft on Wednesday.
Vols’ secondary of primary concern
When Tennessee cornerback Rashaan Gaulden tweeted Wednesday he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2018 NFL Draft, it was not a total surprise. After all, Gaulden was a solid player last season and the team is going through a coaching change.
This does leave Tennessee in a tough spot, though. The Vols are now losing their four primary cornerbacks from 2017.
I actually got a question for SEC Country’s Question of the Day feature about the cornerback situation before Gaulden’s decision.
The Vols are in good position for one of the top Class of 2018 cornerbacks in the country right now in Olaijah Griffin. The Mission Viejo, Calif., native never gave the Vols much interest, but since Tennessee hired Jeremy Pruitt to be head coach, Griffin has been leaning more toward the Vols each day.
Griffin took an official visit to Knoxville on Dec. 15. He was a UCLA commit then, now his recruitment is open, with the Vols leading.
Griffin rates as a 4-star prospect and the No. 4 cornerback in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He has the ability to come in and play right away for the Vols.
The 6-foot, 170-pound corner has started to tell people Tennessee is his leader. Pruitt needs to close the deal because letting him slip would put the team in a tough position next season.
Griffin has spent the week in Orlando, Fla., for the Under Armour All America Game. He’s spent a lot of time with Tennessee signee Alontae Taylor. The two seem close and the peer-recruiting appears to be working.
— Alontae Taylor (@TaeTaylor6) January 3, 2018
Isaac Taylor-Stuart is a 5-star corner the Vols are in the mix with, as well. There’s still much work to be done with at this point, though. His official visit to Knoxville will come on Feb. 2, the final weekend before National Signing Day. There’s still hope for the Vols in this one.
RELATED: 2018 Tennessee recruiting big board
Eddie Smith is a 3-star corner who is much more gettable at this point. Smith played both wide receiver and corner for Salmen High School in Slidell, La., so he’s versatile.
The Vols could also look at the junior college ranks to add another player or two. The coaching staff has used JUCO players to fill immediate needs at linebacker, tight end and offensive tackle.
Staff won’t settle, regardless of numbers
Tennessee had a commitment from cornerback Brandon Cross when Pruitt took over the job. Former commit Tanner Ingle also held some interest in coming back on board.
Pruitt cut ties with both of them leading up to the early signing period.
It was a clear statement. The coaching staff will not settle in who they plan on taking. Pruitt has a clear idea of what he wants from his defensive positions. He is not going to take players for the sake of filling out the roster.
That’s smart to a point, but Tennessee has struggled with depth a few different times the last few seasons. If the injury bug hits the cornerback group next season, if they don’t have at least three corners from this class, the Vols might be in a tough spot.
Vols make top 5 for Louisiana tight end
Glenn Beal tweeted out his top 5 schools on Wednesday, and the Vols made the cut.
Had a long talk with my family and As of right now these are the schools I am focusing on plz respect my decision (No order)#GeauxTigers #Rolltide #GigEm #GoVols #HottyToddy pic.twitter.com/SiwTDORycM
— GB15 (@G__beal) January 3, 2018
Tennessee finds itself in the mix along with LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
The Vols already have two tight end signees in the Class of 2018 in Jacob Warren and Dominick Wood-Anderson.
Taking on three tight ends would seem to be a lot given the holes elsewhere on the roster. It’s clear Pruitt doesn’t have much faith in the current tight ends on the roster to fit into the new offensive scheme, however.
Beal rates as a 3-star prospect and ranks as the No. 29 tight end in the class, according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings.
Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news here.
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