Tennessee football: What to make of wild week in recruiting news

Rider fell to Cedar Hill 33-13 in the Texas State 7on7 Championships Saturday, June 29, 2019, at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.Rider In Final Day Of State 7on7 Championships
Rider fell to Cedar Hill 33-13 in the Texas State 7on7 Championships Saturday, June 29, 2019, at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.Rider In Final Day Of State 7on7 Championships /

The Tennessee football Volunteers are beginning to reap what their 2-5 record has sown with the early signing period looming.

It’s Florida week, and somehow, someway, the December-edition rivalry game this Saturday isn’t the biggest story surrounding Tennessee football. As this week rolled on, it was the Vols of tomorrow making the headlines.

The rollercoaster of a recruiting week began on a relatively high note. On Sunday night, Kaidon Salter, UT’s class of 2021 quarterback commit, announced via his Twitter that he’d be signing with the Vols on Dec. 16, the first day of the early signing period.


A consensus four-star recruit ranked as high as No. 47 in 247sports’ national rankings making such an announcement was in many ways comforting to Tennessee football fans. If a player as talented as Salter still wants to join UT despite a thus far 2-5 season, maybe other talented committed players won’t back off of their pledges too.

That optimism was short-lived, however. Miami Central linebacker and top-rated recruit in UT’s 2021 class Terrence Lewis announced via his Twitter on Monday night that he’d be decommiting from the University of Tennessee.


Lewis, a five-star and the No. 1 inside linebacker on 247sports’ composite rankings made it clear that the Vols were still the favorite to land him despite no longer being part of the class. The comment may seem like a way to ease tensions with fans, but it’s important to note that recruits, especially five-stars, rarely say their top school is still the school they’re decommitting from.

Ultimately, this college decision is for Lewis himself to make. He’s entitled to his own time and own choices, and fans shouldn’t feel like he owes them, this football program or its coaching staff anything, especially given the way this season has gone.

Following Lewis’ decommitment came an outpour of Big Orange support from remaining committed recruits, affirming their status as future Tennessee football players on Twitter. These players we’re about to mention announced they’d remain solid with their commitment to UT or in some way alluded to joining Rocky Top next season.

Dylan Brooks


Aaron Willis

Kaidon Salter


KaTron Evans

Miles Campbell

Roc Taylor


Isaac Washington

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So what should Tennessee football fans take away from this week’s recruiting headlines?

Well right off the bat, those already in crisis mode will make Lewis’ decommitment a big deal – and those fans have a point. One of the things many fans agreed on in favor of keeping the struggling Jeremy Pruitt on the sidelines was his effectiveness in recruiting, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

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If Lewis does end up at a different program, it’ll be really the first big reality check that Pruitt’s days of recruiting based on a promise or a dream of one day bringing Tennessee football back to the national spotlight are over. He needs the results on the field and in the win columns to prove what he’s saying.

On the other hand, Lewis may very-well rejoin this class. This is a class class that, according to the 247 sports composite, currently ranks No. 14 in the country and No. 5 in the SEC despite once being No. 2 and No. 1 respectively.

Whether a player’s choice comes down to his willingness to call Knoxville home based on his love for the program and its tradition or his desire to play SEC football as a freshman shouldn’t matter. It seems as though there are still a plethora of talented players that still want to suit up in orange and white on Saturdays.

At this point, it’s easy to say the Vols need to start winning in order to recruit well. However, what if this new group of recruits that really do want to be part of Tennessee football are another step in the right direction towards a rebuild?

There are bound to be many surprises between now and the conclusion of the early signing period that very well could depend on how UT concludes the 2020 season. Until pens are put to paper, it’s anyone’s guess who’s staying and who’s joining the Vols’ 2021 class.

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If the camaraderie of these future Tennessee football players on Twitter is an indication of anything, it’s that a tight-knit group of prospects who will soon be joining Rocky Top. That can only be good news for the program.