Jeremy Pruitt’s Unfinished Business

With only a few weeks left until the conclusion of this year’s recruiting class, the buzz in the recruiting world is reaching a crescendo. Tennessee is poised to charge into the nation’s top ten recruiting classes. Jeremy Pruitt and the staff will hope their continued investment into relationships with some of the nation’s top recruits will culminate in these prospects choosing to join the Vols on Signing Day. Here are some of the highest profile recruits with whom Tennessee remains in the picture:

Henry To’oto’o is one of the nation’s top linebackers and one of the best fifty prospects in the country, according to 247sports.com composite ranking. The race for his signature has long been thought to be between Tennessee and Alabama, with Washington as a distant third. With his primary recruiter Tosh Lupoi leaving Alabama and joining the Browns, the Vols are confident and for good reason. To’oto’o visited Rocky Top last weekend, and by all indications came away very impressed. The momentum seems to be favoring Tennessee at this point. With two and a half weeks until signing day, it remains to be seen whether the program will be able to capitalize on its positive momentum following the official visit. One thing fans will love about To’oto’o is his toughness; he broke his foot in practice leading up to his state championship game. While an injury of that nature would sideline just about anyone, Henry played and managed to record six tackles in his final high school game. Jeremy Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer have partnered with Kevin Simon in establishing a strong rapport with the linebacker and his family. Kevin Simon could prove invaluable in this recruitment as To’oto’o and Simon have a lot in common. Both are linebackers from California who attended the football factory, De La Salle. This staff has done a tremendous job at establishing relationships with some of the best talent producing high schools in the country. This recruitment is further evidence of that. Tennessee still has to survive To’oto’o’s official visit to Alabama, but as things stand, the Vols are as well positioned as anyone.

This is not the first time that Darnell Wright has been identified in one of my articles. Wright has long been one of the staff’s top priorities for this class. Tennessee has been the front runner in this recruitment for months, but the high school All-American has never publicly committed. Wright appears to have a strong relationship with Wanya Morris, fellow five-star offensive tackle. If Darnell were to indeed choose the vols, Tennessee would likely have itself the best offensive line class in the country. Much of the credit should go to Brian Niedermeyer. Niedermeyer is developing a reputation as an elite recruiter. He had the choice to go elsewhere this off-season, but is staying in Knoxville which could prove to be a coup for Pruitt this offseason. The foundation for this one was laid early, with the Wright family coming to Knoxville over the summer. The family fell in love with the area and the relatively short commute from Huntington, West Virginia. There is too much here in favor of the Vols to believe that Darnell would go anywhere else. Look for him to don a hat with the power ‘T’ on it in a few short weeks.

Charles Moore is someone that the Vols are trying to climb into the picture with as of late. The long-time Mississippi State commitment, recently opened up his recruitment and is being pursued by several elite SEC schools and Florida State. The Vols are on the outside looking in, as they were unable to get a visit from Moore over the course of these last few weeks before signing day. Unless something changes with his visit schedule, I do not think that Tennessee will be much of a factor here.

Carl Pickens is an Auburn commitment that this staff is attempting to persuade to play receiver for the good guys. Many Volunteer fans will affectionately remember another receiver with the same last name, but there is no relation. Carl is an elite five-star recruit who plays at Hoover, which is deep in Alabama and Auburn territory. However, Hoover is also where Jeremy Pruitt used to coach before his meteoric rise into and through the collegiate ranks. While Tennessee is facing an uphill battle, one has to think that Pruitt and his connections could be an ace up the sleeve. Overall, it is likely a long shot, but the Vols have a puncher’s chance here.

Khris Bogle is one of the nation’s premier defensive ends and is currently committed to the Crimson Tide, but it is rumored that he was leaning toward the Vols, before announcing his pledge to Alabama on television during one of the high school All-American games. Bogle has flirted with Tennessee dating back to this summer. His recruitment has been an odd one to follow, making his final decision difficult to project. Some think that his mother may win out in the end with him staying at home and signing with Miami, but there is still smoke surrounding Bogle’s camp. This one is worth checking in on signing day, though I would not bet that he ends up on Rocky Top.

There is a good chance that Tennessee adds a five star offensive tackle in Darnell Wright and one of the country’s top fifty players in Henry To’oto’o. Carl Pickens could very well end up in Knoxville, but we are facing stiff competition from Georgia and Auburn here. Bogle and Moore are likely long shots, but Tennessee remains in the picture. Recruiting is quite fluid. Anything can happen. Jeremy Pruitt will hope that one final surge will be enough to solidify a top ten class nationally, as he fights to get Tennessee back on the map of the elite college football landscape.

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