2021 College Football Class Review: Tennessee

By Corey Long - @CoreyLong
Updated Nov. 16, 2020.

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Conference Class Rank

Last Updated/Ranked: June 11, 2020
1 Tennessee logo Tennessee
2 Georgia logo Georgia
3 LSU logo LSU
4 Florida logo Florida
5 Auburn logo Auburn
6 Texas A&M logo Texas A&M
7 Alabama logo Alabama
8 Mississippi State logo Mississippi State
9 Kentucky logo Kentucky
10 Missouri logo Missouri
11 South Carolina logo South Carolina
12 Arkansas logo Arkansas
13 Ole Miss logo Ole Miss
14 Vanderbilt logo Vanderbilt

2021 College Recruiting - 22 Commits

Last Player Grade Published on Nov. 16, 2020
Tennessee logo OT J'Marion Gooch (Seymour, TN) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Gooch (6-7, 355) committed to Auburn in mid-April, but decided to make the flip to the in-state team. From an earlier evaluation: "Gooch is mountain of a prospect and who fills a high need for tackles for Auburn. Gooch has incredible size, and it shows up in the run-blocking game, where he can use that body to smother defensive linemen. His weight is an issue, especially in the lower body, where he still needs to develop strength to play lower and play with leverage. Gooch isn't a slam dunk as a recruit, but he was a heavily coveted player on the recruiting circuit."

J'Marion Gooch's Player Grade: B-
Tennessee logo CB Damarius McGhee (Pensacola, FL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

McGhee (6-1, 165) is a very good two-way athlete. I had him ranked just outside of the top wide receivers in the nation, but Tennessee is looking at him to play cornerback.

McGhee offers a lot of options and, when watching his film, he is one of those players who seems to do everything for his team in high school. He is a wide receiver and a return specialist. He will play on defense and take on the top cover assignment.

McGhee is just a natural playmaker who has the tools to be successful wherever he is on the field. As a cornerback, his length and speed will be a major strength. He can play the football well and has natural instincts for the position.

Damarius McGhee's Player Grade: B
Tennessee logo TE Hudson Wolfe (Savannah, TN) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Wolfe (6-6, 242) is the second tight end prospect that has committed to Tennessee in the 2021 recruiting class and it's likely the Volunteers are done at the position. Wolfe is a big-body athlete that projects out to be an excellent blocker and inline tight end. He has plenty of room on his body to grow and provides a big target in the pass receiving game. Wolfe is much more comfortable when he's blocking and trying to push a bunch of defenders off the ball. He can catch passes and does it very well. I don't think Wolfe will be counted on as a high-volume receiver, but he's capable of it. Wolfe is a physical tight end that will be a great asset as an inline tight end.

Hudson Wolfe's Player Grade: B-
Tennessee logo ATH Trinity Bell (Albertville, AL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Bell (6-7, 255) is an interesting jumbo athlete who could do a lot of things. He's listed generously as a tight end, and yeah, he could be a good one there. His numbers in high school, however, are from being a defensive end, and Bell certainly has the length to be very effective with his hand in the ground on the end. There are still others who would say when Bell's frame and length he would be an ideal left tackle as long as he could put on the weight. Originally, Tennessee was looking at Bell to play defensive end, but now the program is interested in him as a tight end. My belief is if he comes in as a tight end, he will move to the offensive line. The good thing with Bell is there's significant upside with him at multiple positions.

Trinity Bell's Player Grade: B
Tennessee logo ATH Kaemen Marley (Ramseur, NC) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Marley (6-2, 205) has been used all over the field in his high school on both sides of the ball. He has spent some time at running back and wide receiver, and he looks more than capable at either position. That being said, I'd bet the house on Marley playing defense. He's a physical player who could contribute at multiple levels. Marley is already blessed with college-ready size and is a good enough athlete to play as a high safety in the box or likely grow as a linebacker who could play in the middle or off the ball. His ability to drop into coverage and plus-level ball skills make him a likely outside linebacker or safety. Marley offers NFL upside and a ton of scheme versatility.

Kaemen Marley's Player Grade: B+
Tennessee logo TE Miles Campbell (Douglasville, GA) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Campbell (6-3, 235) showed his chops as a receiver in his junior year of high school with over 50 catches for over 600 yards. But don't think Campbell is going to just be a flex tight end. He has the size and willingness to be a blocker. Campbell is pretty balanced, and I could see him lining up on the line at times and moving to the slot or even into an h-Back role. He can be physical and fight for the football. Campbell is a hard-nosed player, and I love the way he'll mix it up blocking. He is not great at any one thing, but he's above average in most areas.

Miles Campbell's Player Grade: B
Tennessee logo LB Aaron Willis (Baltimore, MD) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Willis (5-11, 202) is a little undersized to play linebacker, but don't let that distract you from how dynamic of a player he is. In a program full of FBS prospects, Willis tends to rise above most of them with his fast, hard-nosed style of play. He has a great combination of speed and physicality...maybe a little too physical for being an undersized linebacker, but Willis flies around the field and will hit anything that moves. Willis is a more of a downhill linebacker than anything at this point. He is athletic enough to be capable in coverage, but he's rarely had those opportunities. I think middle linebacker is probably the best position for him, maybe strong safety as well. Willis is a top-end middle linebacker in this class.

Aaron Willis' Player Grade: A-
Tennessee logo QB Kaidon Salter (Cedar Hill, TX) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Salter (6-1, 187) is part of that new wave of athletic quarterbacks. He's more of a passer than a runner, but his ability as a runner makes his passing game all the more dangerous. Salter has a good mindset to play quarterback. He doesn't seem to panic back there, and when the play starts to break down, that's when Salter is really dangerous. Salter can beat you with his legs, but he really thrives when he's using those legs to throw the ball on the run. He has a nice release and plus-level arm strength. His arm strength should only improve as he puts on more size in a college strength program. Salter is a two-sport athlete who also does hurdles and long jump in track and field. He is a fluid athlete with tremendous upside and another good pickup for Tennessee.

Kaidon Salter's Player Grade: B+
Tennessee logo DT KaTron Evans (Baltimore, MD) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Evans (6-3, 315) is big athlete who can provide run-stopping ability and some versatility on the defensive line. He has played nose guard and three-technique in high school, with an advanced program at St. Frances Academy. Evans is likely going to play more nose guard in college and be responsible for closing space in the middle of the line. On many snaps, Evans isn't going to make the play, but his ability to take on blockers will allow the other members of the defensive line and linebackers to jump in. There's nothing pretty about playing nose, and Evans is one of the few prospects in the nation who already has the size and mentality to do it. Evans moves north-south well for a big man, and he's strong enough to handle double teams off the snap. Evans won't be most mentioned player in Tennessee's class, but he will be one of the most important.

KaTron Evans' Player Grade: B
Tennessee logo OT Colby Smith (West End, NC) commits to Tennessee  View Class

I'm not sure if Smith (6-7, 285) has a significant basketball background, but from watching his feet and his movement, I feel like there has to be some cross training going on. Smith is a large, massive athlete and a prospect with a high ceiling because of his natural tools. There are a couple of clips on Smith's reel where he stone walls blockers and barely puts a hand on them because they are completely neutralized by his footwork and wide base. Smith has some development to do. He has strength to gain in both the upper and lower body as he continues to fill out. Smith could get better with his hands and more consistent with finishing blocks. But with his size and natural athleticism, Smith has those things you just can't teach - size and athleticism.

Colby Smith's Player Grade: B-
Tennessee logo S De'Shawn Rucker (Tallahassee, FL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Rucker is another big commitment for the Volunteers, and their second from the state of Florida over the past week. Rucker (5-11, 175) is probably the top free safety prospect in Florida this year. He is a two-way star in high school and a major playmaker. Rucker's skills as a receiver shine through via his hands and ball skills. He is always around the football, and if he can generate a turnover, his mind quickly shifts to making a big play on the return. Rucker's ability to line up anywhere in the secondary forces offenses to have to scheme against him to keep the ball out of his area. The Volunteers continue to work toward the top recruiting class in the SEC.

De'Shawn Rucker's Player Grade: A-
Tennessee logo RB Cody Brown (Lilburn, GA) commits to Tennessee  View Class

The Volunteers recently got a commitment from top junior college running back Tiyon Evans and also have athlete Jaylen Wright in the class, although Wright could play in the backfield, at wide receiver or possibly defensive back. Brown (6-0, 223) reminds me a lot of a former Tennessee running back and NFL All-Pro, Jamal Evans. He is already built like a college running back, with a developed frame and a strong upper and lower body.

Brown is a powerful one-cut downhill running back. He doesn't waste time dancing in the backfield, and when he gets a head of steam, he is hard to take down. Brown doesn't have breakaway speed, but he has the ability to take a high-volume of carries and wear defenses down.

Cody Brown's Player Grade: B+
Tennessee logo LB Terrence Lewis (Hollywood, FL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Lewis (6-1, 200) is arguably the best linebacker in Florida and likely top five at his position in the nation. Tennessee has absolutely exploded in recruiting, with Lewis' commitment joining the recent one from Dylan Brooks.

When it comes to his playmaking skills, Lewis probably has the most upside of any defensive player in the nation. He will be a major contributor immediately and could very well be a starter for as long as he's on campus. Lewis has a complete game. He can run; he can tackle; and he will go sideline to sideline. He can play near the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield. Lewis is a tremendous athlete who can drop into coverage and assist with pass defense. He is an aggressive player and always seems to be the right place to cause a negative play for the offense. Lewis is a big-time coup for Tennessee.

Terrence Lewis' Player Grade: A-
Tennessee logo RB Tiyon Evans (Hartsville, SC) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Evans is currently at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas. He is widely considered the top-rated running back in the junior college ranks. Evans (5-9, 220) is physically ready to go and honestly wouldn't hurt from dropping a few pounds. That being said he's a compact bowling ball and difficult to bring down. Evans rushed for 539 yards and nine touchdowns on 61 carries at Hutchinson as a freshman. He is planning on playing his sophomore season at Hutchinson and will have two years of eligibility after that.

Tiyon Evans' Player Grade: C+
Tennessee logo WR Julian Nixon (Roswell, GA) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Nixon represents Tennessee third verbal commitment over the past two days. There are a lot of different opinions on Nixon (6-3, 225). Some see him as a big outside receiver, while others believe he'll end up as a flex tight end. Nixon is a big-bodied target with a good wingspan. He was been hampered by injuries, so there's not a ton of film to look at. Nixon has sharp route-running skills and good hands. His speed could be improved, but on the outside, he's a physical mismatch who knows how to use his body to box out smaller defensive backs. Nixon looks like a future tight end, although probably not an inline tight end, but one who can be flexed out or line up in the backfield as an h-back.

Julian Nixon's Player Grade: B
Tennessee logo S Kamar Wilcoxson (Bradenton, FL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

A day after shocking the system by gaining a verbal commitment from top defensive lineman Dylan Brooks, Tennessee stayed hot on the recruiting trail to add the talented Wilcoxson (6-2, 190) to its top-10 recruiting class. Wilcoxson brings a lot of versatility to the back end. He has shown the ability to play cornerback and safety, and he'll likely do both in college because Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt loves bigger cornerbacks. Wilcoxson is a very good athlete who has excellent speed and length. He has a good skill set for cornerback and displays plus-level ball skills.

Wilcoxson is a competitor and plays with a chip on his shoulder. On one play, he can be a corner who will match up with bigger receivers, and on the next, he will be playing deep safety and patrolling the middle.

Kamar Wilcoxson's Player Grade: A-
Tennessee logo DE Dylan Brooks (Roanoke, AL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Tennessee makes a major power move in recruiting with the verbal commitment of Brooks, one of the top five defensive linemen in this class and arguably the top prospect out of Alabama. The Volunteers were trending for Brooks over the past several weeks, but to pull him from Alabama and Auburn is still somewhat of a shock.

Brooks (6-5, 245) is the centerpiece of any top recruiting class. He's a big, long defensive end with freakish strength and athleticism. I don't think there is a better wide lineman coming off the snap and at the point of attack than Brooks. He is over 240 pounds, but athletic enough to drop into coverage and also play offense as a wide receiver and tight end in high school. Right now, Brooks just overwhelms his competition, so he'll have to show that he can raise his game against much better players, but the impact this will have on Tennessee's class can't be denied. Brooks is a highly impactful player with major potential.

Dylan Brooks' Player Grade: A+
Tennessee logo ATH Roc Taylor (Oxford, AL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Taylor (6-4, 200) is a big athlete who will likely project as a wide receiver or more specifically a tight end. He committed to Tennessee over offers from Florida, Georgia Tech and Arkansas, among others. Taylor is a solid pass catcher and shows plus-level hands. He can run and is faster than his 4.85-second recorded time, which shows in the way he can get downfield. Taylor is a two-sport athlete and well regarded as a basketball player. He might start out at wide receiver and eventually grow into being a tight end, which I believe is more of a natural fit for him.

Roc Taylor's Player Grade: C
Tennessee logo WR Walker Merrill (Brentwood, TN) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Merrill (6-1, 175) has some explosive speed and athleticism that should project well as a wide receiver. He is pretty raw in terms of wide receiver skills and mechanics - his hands are not completely reliable yet and his route running is pretty basic. But projecting forward as an athlete, Merrill is really dynamic and a big play waiting to break out. Right now, he's the type of player who can make plays in space off a bubble screens and is explosive through an opening for a big play. Merrill has good length and great leaping ability that will serve him well as his other skills begin to develop. It might take Merrill a while to become a complete receiver, but he's a threat every time the ball touches his hands.

Walker Merrill's Player Grade: C+
Tennessee logo RB Jaylen Wright (Durham, NC) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Tennessee was going to take two running backs in this class and already had a commitment from in-state prospect Elijah Howard. Wright (5-10, 190) will bring speed and more speed to the backfield for the Volunteers. Wright is one of the fastest players in North Carolina and runs around a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, if not a little faster. He has plenty of interest with offers from Miami, Florida State, Rutgers and Arizona State out there. Wright will bring some scheme versatility; he can catch the football out of the backfield, and he'll be dangerous in space. Expect him to be a returner on special teams as well.

Jaylen Wright's Player Grade: C+
Tennessee logo DT Isaac Washington (Pilot Mountain, NC) commits to Tennessee  View Class

Washington (6-3, 265) had a dominant junior season in high school, racking up 27 tackles for loss and earning the attention of several top programs. He was one of two Tennessee targets who committed to the school during the Volunteers' junior-day event. Tennessee had been on Washington for several months, and even as he began accumulating offers from other major programs, he couldn't get Tennessee off his mind.

On film, it's easy to see Washington's effect. He brings it on every play and is good with his explosion off the ball. Washington is a little raw and needs to continue to work on his technique so it matches his work ethic. Once his technique comes around, Washington has the potential to be a multi-year starter.

Isaac Washington's Player Grade: B+
Tennessee logo S Edwin White (Mobile, AL) commits to Tennessee  View Class

White's recruitment to Tennessee has been over two years in the making. The Volunteers were the first program to make an to offer White and have been aggressively pursuing him since. Other programs began noticing White later, but Tennessee always has the upper hand.

White (5-11, 195) is a solid pass defender and plays in the center of the field with a lot of comfort. He can read passes well and knows when to jump in to either break up the pass or try to create a turnover. White may take some unnecessary risks or get too aggressive trying to jump some passing routes, but those risks make him a threat on the field at all times.

Edwin White's Player Grade: B-

All Commitments - 23

Most recent Commitment on Aug. 31, 2020
  • 8/31 - J'Marion Gooch OT
  • 7/30 - Damarius McGhee CB
  • 6/15 - Hudson Wolfe TE
  • 5/22 - Trinity Bell ATH
  • 5/20 - Kaemen Marley ATH
  • 5/18 - Miles Campbell TE
  • 5/12 - Aaron Willis OLB
  • 5/10 - Kaidon Salter QB
  • 5/9 - KaTron Evans DT
  • 5/4 - Colby Smith OT
  • 5/3 - De'Shawn Rucker S
  • 5/3 - Cody Brown RB
  • 4/30 - Terrence Lewis LB
  • 4/30 - Tiyon Evans RB
  • 4/28 - Julian Nixon WR
  • 4/27 - Kamar Wilcoxson S
  • 4/26 - Dylan Brooks DE
  • 4/10 - Roc Taylor ATH
  • 3/31 - Walker Merrill WR
  • 3/30 - Jaylen Wright RB
  • 3/8 - Isaac Washington DT
  • 3/8 - Edwin White S
  • 1/25 - Isaac Washington DT

Last Season's Roster:

  • Seniors: 14
  • Juniors: 32
  • Sophmores: 25
  • Freshmen: 53
DB: 22 Players | 96 games played
Sr:2 Jr:2 So:9 Fr:9
Player Class Games|Starts
Shawn Shamburger Jr 9|9
Nigel Warrior Sr 9|9
Kenneth George Jr. Fr 9|6
Jaylen McCollough Fr 9|2
Alontae Taylor So 9|2
Theo Jackson Jr 8|5
Warren Burrell Fr 7|4
Kenney Solomon Fr 7|0
Bryce Thompson So 6|6
Trevon Flowers So 6|2
Aaron Beasley Fr 5|0
Cheyenne Labruzza So 5|0
Tyus Fields Fr 3|0
Brandon Davis Fr 1|0
Romello Edwards Fr 1|0
Kwauze Garland Fr 1|0
Jay Shoop So 1|0
Terrell Bailey So 0|0
Baylen Buchanan Sr 0|0
Garrett Johnson So 0|0
Jake Powers So 0|0
Tyrik Stewart So 0|0
DL: 14 Players | 76 games played
Sr:1 Jr:6 So:2 Fr:5
Player Class Games|Starts
Greg Emerson Fr 9|8
Aubrey Solomon Jr 9|7
Darel Middleton Jr 9|3
Matthew Butler Jr 9|2
Kurott Garland Fr 9|1
JaQuain Blakely Jr 9|0
LaTrell Bumphus Jr 7|5
Savion Williams Jr 7|0
John Mincey So 6|0
Kingston Harris Fr 1|0
Elijah Simmons Fr 1|0
Emmit Gooden Sr 0|0
Isaac Green Fr 0|0
Gatkek Kueth So 0|0
K: 4 Players | 9 games played
Sr:0 Jr:1 So:0 Fr:3
Player Class Games|Starts
Brent Cimaglia Jr 9|0
Luke Lynn Fr 0|0
Marshall Ware Fr 0|0
Toby Wilson Fr 0|0
LB: 20 Players | 83 games played
Sr:3 Jr:6 So:2 Fr:9
Player Class Games|Starts
Darrell Taylor Sr 9|9
Henry Too Too Fr 9|8
Quavaris Crouch Fr 9|1
Deandre Johnson Jr 9|1
Kivon Bennett So 9|0
J.J. Peterson Fr 9|0
Daniel Bituli Sr 7|7
Roman Harrison Fr 7|0
Shanon Reid Jr 4|0
Will Ignont Jr 3|2
Solon Page III So 3|0
Landon Knoll Sr 2|0
Jordan Allen Jr 1|0
Nyles Gaddy Fr 1|0
Ethan Rinke Fr 1|0
Bryan Aiken Fr 0|0
Matt Ballard Jr 0|0
Deontae Beauchamp Fr 0|0
Nick Humphrey Jr 0|0
West Shuler Fr 0|0
LS: 3 Players | 9 games played
Sr:1 Jr:1 So:0 Fr:1
Player Class Games|Starts
Riley Lovingood Sr 9|0
Matthew Salanasky Fr 0|0
Jake Yelich Jr 0|0
OL: 18 Players | 87 games played
Sr:1 Jr:6 So:2 Fr:9
Player Class Games|Starts
Brandon Kennedy Sr 9|9
Wanya Morris Fr 9|8
Trey Smith Jr 9|8
Ryan Johnson Jr 9|3
Marcus Tatum Jr 9|3
KRojhn Calbert So 9|2
Darnell Wright Fr 8|6
Jerome Carvin So 8|3
Riley Locklear Jr 7|2
Jahmir Johnson Jr 3|1
Chris Akporoghene Fr 2|0
Jackson Lampley Fr 2|0
Ollie Lane Fr 2|0
Jarious Abercrombie Fr 1|0
Parker Ball Fr 0|0
Dayne Davis Fr 0|0
Airin Spell Fr 0|0
Dawson Stephens Jr 0|0
P: 2 Players | 18 games played
Sr:0 Jr:0 So:2 Fr:0
Player Class Games|Starts
Paxton Brooks So 9|0
Joe Doyle So 9|0
QB: 7 Players | 18 games played
Sr:0 Jr:1 So:1 Fr:5
Player Class Games|Starts
Jarrett Guarantano Jr 9|4
Brian Maurer Fr 5|3
J.T. Shrout Fr 4|1
Michael Bittner Fr 0|0
Kasim Hill So 0|0
Steven Orr Fr 0|0
Spencer Smith Fr 0|0
RB: 9 Players | 38 games played
Sr:1 Jr:4 So:1 Fr:3
Player Class Games|Starts
Ty Chandler Jr 9|7
Eric Gray Fr 9|0
Tim Jordan Jr 8|2
Jeremy Banks So 4|0
Carlin Fils-aime Sr 3|0
Fred Orr Fr 3|0
James Christian Jr 1|0
Chip Omer Jr 1|0
Cameron Miller Fr 0|0
TE: 8 Players | 37 games played
Sr:1 Jr:2 So:1 Fr:4
Player Class Games|Starts
Austin Pope Jr 9|7
Dominick Wood-Anderson Sr 9|5
Andrew Craig Jr 8|0
Princeton Fant So 5|0
Jacob Warren Fr 5|0
Sean Brown Fr 1|0
Jackson Lowe Fr 0|0
Hunter Salmon Fr 0|0
WR: 17 Players | 74 games played
Sr:4 Jr:3 So:5 Fr:5
Player Class Games|Starts
Marquez Callaway Sr 9|9
Josh Palmer Jr 9|9
Jauan Jennings Sr 9|6
Tyler Byrd Sr 9|1
Ramel Keyton Fr 8|0
Cedric Tillman Fr 7|0
Jerrod Means Fr 5|0
Tanner Dobrucky So 4|0
Brandon Johnson Sr 4|0
Jacquez Jones So 3|0
Grant Frerking So 2|0
Isaiah Montgomery Fr 2|0
Richard Mize Jr. So 1|0
Jordan Murphy Jr 1|0
J.T. Siekerman Fr 1|0
Braden Collins So 0|0
Deangelo Gibbs Jr 0|0


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