Ranking Tennessee’s Commits
National Signing Day has come and gone, and I’m already looking forward to 2010. This year was my first time keeping up with the signings throughout the day, and I don’t think they’ll be another year in the near future where I’m not glued to my computer screen. It’s absolutely addicting.
But back to the task at hand. I’ve posted a list of all the Vols’ commitments, and I’ve also added a little bonus… I ranked the players 1-20 in terms of how I see them contributing to this Volunteers’ team over the course of their careers.
Janzen Jackson (*****) – DB
Jackson is by far the top signing of this last (that is, unless Bryce Brown shocks the world) and he could make an immediate impact on a Vols team that is somewhat weak at the cornerback position. Jackson’s size and speed would make him an excellent safetey, but corner is where he will likely start. Wherever he is in the secondary, however, he’ll have wideouts hearing his footsteps. This young man rivals Eric Berry in his ability to lay vicious hits, and that’s saying something.
Jerod Askew (****) – LB
With Monte Kiffin on board, I have a feeling Askew is going to thrive. Not only that, but the similarity of names with a former Vol linebacker (Mr. Jerod Mayo) give me hope that Askew will thrive the way Mayo did. He’s raw, which allows for Monte to mold him into the something special. His ranking as the No.1 run-stopper in the country by Rivals.com shows where his strength lies.
Darren Myles, Jr. (****) – S
Like Jackson, Myles predominantly played safety while in high school, but looks to be destined to play corner for a Tennessee team needing depth at the position. However, if Berry heads to the pros after this next season, we could be looking at his potential replacement. Myles’ great instincts combined with sure tackling and speed give Tennessee high hopes about the kind of player he can develop into.
Nu’Keese Richardson (****) – WR
One of the top receivers in this class, Richardson draws comparisons to one of the best players in the country this past season, Percy Harvin. What he lacks in size (5’9) he more than makes up for with his speed (4.45) and ability to make plays after the catch. He knows how to get open and his small size means he can get lost in the defense’s coverage. But his small size also means he’s a small target, and with three quarterbacks who struggled to hit their targets last season, it could mean few looks for Richardson at the start of his career.
Marsalis Teague (****) – ATH
The more talented of the two athletes signed in this class, Teague will more than likely end up at defensive back, but might play slot receiver if he shows he can make plays. He played mostly quarterback in high school, with some time spent at cornerback, so it will more than likely take some coaching to get him ready for the college game, but his range and natural ability to adjust to the downfield throw gives him tons of upside.
Robert Nelson (***) – LB
A four year starter in high school, Nelson is a sleeper in my book, due to his quick speed which works perfect in Monte’s system. His high energy plays both to his advantage and disadvantage. It leads to fierce hits and quick bursts, but also to to overrunning plays and forgetting to read his keys. Overall, I think Nelson will surprise a lot of Vol fans, and could be the best 3-star of this class.
Eric Gordon (****) – DB
After losing out to Marlon Brown, Gordon became the top Tennessee prospect signed by UT in this class. His signing helps with Kiffin’s pledge to close off the state of Tennessee to other programs in the SEC. Gordon looks to excel at corner with his lightning speed (4.4) and loose hips, enabling him to mirror receivers in man coverage. He is great at anticipating what the quarterback will do, allowing him to easily undercut routes while in zone coverage. His size is the only drawback, but his other qualities more than make up for it.
Marlon Walls (****) – LB
Walls originally signed with the Vols last year, but academic problems meant he spent the 2008-2009 season at Hargrave Military Academy. Walls is another quick (4.55) linebacker who will likely excel in the Tennessee 2 (formerly known as the Tampa 2) that Monte Kiffin employs. He was ranked the No. 5 prospect on Rivals’s top prep school prospects. His aggressive mentality gives him short-range quickness, but it also means he will over pursue at times. Look for him to start making noise his junior year.
James Green (****) – WR
The less talked about of the two 4-star wide receivers signed in this class, Green still possesses a lot of skill that should make him a talented college receiver. He’s not too tall (6’2) or too fast (4.61) but he has good size (202 lb.) and nice hands, which is important for a receiver catching passes from the quarterbacks currently on this team. Look for him to excel as a slot-receiver.
JerQuari Schofield (****) – OT
A key pickup for a Vols team that needs help on the line. He’s absolutely huge at 6’6 and 298 lbs but still maintains good athletic ability for his massive frame. Don’t look for Schofield to amount to much as an underclassman, but he should mature into an excellent tackle as he learns the college game.
Arthur Jeffery (***) – DT
Jeffery is another prospect who I think will surprise a lot of people, as he wasn’t highly recruited out of high school due to tearing both his MCL and ACL during his senior football season. A lot of schools backed off Jeffery for obvious reasons, but it looks like he’ll be ready by next fall. Still, I look for Tennessee to redshirt Jeffrey to ensure he is healthy and to allow him learn more about the college game and hone his skills.
Greg King (***) – LB
Surprising most people by signing with the Vols on NSD, King comes from Melrose High School in Memphis, Tenn., which is known for producing quality college players. King has an unlimited amount of potential, but lacks size (look for that to change when Mark Smith gets a hold of him). His speed (4.5) allows him to cover a lot of ground quickly, He will more than likely be a later bloomer, but will likely flourish once he grows into his tall frame (6’3).
Nyshier Oliver (***) – ATH
It’s hard for me to pinpoint where Oliver will end up playing at the next level, but his quickness (4.4) will allow him to flourish at a multitude of positions, including safety and wide receiver. His body control and great speed could make him a potential return man, as well. With Nu’Keese seemingly taking on the role of the Percy Harvin-type player, look for Oliver to end up at safety.
Mike Edwards (***) – CB
Notice a trend here? This class is heavy on defensive backs (and defensive players in general). Edwards athleticism allows him to close quickly on receivers and transition well with receivers running routes. He lacks great speed which could hurt him when going up against some of the elite receivers in the SEC.
Nigel Mitchell-Thornton (***) – LB
Nigel has been enrolled at Tennessee since January, and has already gotten a head start by beginning to take classes at the university. Nigel’s speed, size, and burst make him an excellent pass rusher off the edge, something that could enable him to become quite valuable while at UT, especially under Monte’s system.
Toney Williams (***) – RB
Williams looks to embody the sort of LenDale White back that flourished in Kiffin’s offense at USC. For a 230 pound tailback, Williams can cut well and has great vision in the openfield. Luckily, he fell under the radar and Tennessee was able to sweep in and grab him. I’m not sure if he’ll make a name for himself while at Tennessee, but without seeing Kiffin’s system in action, you just never know.
Zach Rogers (***) – WR
Let’s just hope Zach Rogers has a better career than older brother Austin. He has excellent speed (4.47) and is known for making the big plays (which is something his brother lacked). He’s tough and runs crisp routes, something this Tennessee team needs desperately. I like what Zach has to offer, but am just not sold on him (probably because of Austin). I would love for him to prove him wrong though.
Rae Sykes (***) – DE
Originally signed with UT in 2007, Sykes has spent the last two years at Coffeyville Community College where he never played due to injury. He was fairly highly ranked prospect coming out of high school, but I’m wary of his ability to produce after two years of almost no game action. With an excellent staff, though, Sykes might just develop into something.
Montori Hughes (***) – DT
Hughes also enrolled at UT in January (which is probably why he isn’t listed on Rivals.com as a Tennessee commit) and has already begun taking classes. His size and quickness fit the scheme of Monte’s defense, meaning he could end up excelling if he is able to prove himself.
Kevin Revis (***) – OL
I’m not sure I see Revis amounting to much at the college level. He was a productive offensive lineman while in high school, but I’m not sure that will translate to the college game, especially not in the SEC.
Feel free to post comments and criticisms. I’m interested to hear feedback on who others think will contribute.