It was an up and down couple of months for the Tennessee football coaching staff on the recruiting trail this summer.
The Vols were able to nab a few top in-state prospects, including two from their own backyard, but like anywhere in the recruiting game, they battled some attrition, too.
According to the 247Sports composite rankings, Tennessee’s 2020 class currently ranks 31st overall, with 12 commitments, five of which are rated as four stars. In the SEC, the class comes in at No. 12 out of 14 teams.
Despite that, there is still five months until the early signing period in December and seven months until National Signing Day in February. A strong season where the Vols show marked improvement after a 5-7 2018 campaign could go a long way in bumping that class up in the rankings.
Until then, Jeremy Pruitt and staff have a few players who could contribute right away in the 2020 season. Here is a closer look at the Tennessee biggest commitments from this summer.
Art Green, Hutchinson Community College, Huchtinson, Kansas
Green committed to Tennessee back in May as a JUCO transfer out of Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive back is rated as a 4-star prospect, and the No. 1 JUCO prospect at his position.
Tennessee’s secondary was young last season and because of injuries was forced into the spotlight early, meaning this season the group will have several underclassmen with valuable experience under their belts.
With Green going the JUCO route before joining the Vols, should he sign, he’ll have enough experience to join what should be an even more talented secondary in 2020.
Cooper Mays, Knoxville Catholic High School, Knoxville
Mays’ commitment on June 21 was arguably one of Tennessee biggest gets over the offseason for a few reasons.
The previous coaching staff missed out on his brother, Cade who was five-star offensive lineman that also played for Knoxville Catholic and ended up playing for Kirby Smart at Georgia. Not only was landing the younger Mays paramount in establishing Tennessee’s local foothold, their father Kevin played for the Vols in the 1990s.
Tennessee has recruited well upfront, bringing in two five-star offensive lineman in the 2019 class in Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright, both of which will see the field plenty for an offensive line that struggled most of last season.
Adding the 6-foot-2, 275-pound center could go a long way in turning one of the Vols’ biggest liabilities into one of the better lines in the SEC East by the 2020 season.
Tee Hodge, Maryville High School, Maryville
In addition to Mays’ commitment, Tennessee continued their success in grabbing local talent when they picked up Maryville three-star running back Tee Hodge.
Hodge held offers from SEC foes Arkansas and Kentucky, as well as others from Georgia Tech, Memphis and Michigan, but Tennessee was able to keep him home, landing his commitment in late June.
As the No. 24 rated player in the state of Tennessee, Hodge will add to a backfield that will lose seniors Ty Chandler and Carlin Fils-aime following this season. He could see the field as early as 2020, likely joining Tim Jordan and Jeremy Banks.
Keshawn Lawrence, Ensworth School, Nashville
The Vols’ biggest in-state commitment came from Keshawn Lawrence out of Nashville’s Ensworth School back on June 2.
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound safety is rated as the No. 2 overall player in Tennessee and his commitment it further proved Pruitt and staff’s prowess when it comes to recruiting defensive backs, having already added Green and three-star Lovie Jenkins out of Florida to the 2020 class.
The Vols beat out the likes of Miami, Alabama, LSU and Auburn for Lawrence’s services and with senior safety Nigel Warrior leaving after the 2019 season, Lawrence could have an impact right away on Tennessee talented defense.