Tennessee football: Two decommitments in one day shows program falling apart

Hardin County's Hudson Wolfe (87) watches the game against Adamsville at Lendon Martin Memorial Stadium in Adamsville, Tenn., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.Ska5464
Hardin County's Hudson Wolfe (87) watches the game against Adamsville at Lendon Martin Memorial Stadium in Adamsville, Tenn., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.Ska5464 /

Jeremy Pruitt’s Tennessee football Volunteers lost Hudson Wolfe and Jay Jones from their 2021 class.

How much more evidence does Phillip Fulmer need that Tennessee football is a sinking ship under Jeremy Pruitt? You can chalk the six-game losing streak up to the pandemic. It’s okay to overlook his contradictions and lack of sense-making in press conferences.

When recruiting begins to fall apart, though, it becomes abundantly clear, and that’s what is happening now. The Vols lost two commitments in their 2021 class in one day with the early signing period less than a week away, making for five decommitments in a two-week span.

Leading the charge on this day was a brutal loss, in-state tight end Hudson Wolfe. A 6’6″ 235-pound four-star across all major services out of Hardin County High School in Savannah, Tenn., Wolfe had been committed to Tennessee football since June. He announced his decommitment on twitter Thursday morning.

A few hours after Wolfe’s decommitment, another blow came. Three-star Alabama defensive back Jay Jones, who stands at 6’1″ and somewhere between 170 and 200 pounds, also decommitted. Coming out of Demopolis High School in Demopolis, Ala., Jones had been committed since July. He also announced his decommitment on Twitter.

There’s just no way around it. This is a bad situation for Jeremy Pruitt. These decommitments follow the decommitments of three Florida defensive players. There have been three four-star or higher-rated players decommit in the past two weeks and two more three-stars.

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Defensive back Damarius McGhee, a four-star across all services out of Pensacola Catholic High School in Pensacola, Fla., decommitted from UT on Thanksgiving. Three days later, linebacker Terrence Lewis, a four-star on Rivals and 247Sports but a five-star on ESPN out of Miami Central High School in Opa Locka, Fla., also decommitted.

Both of those players, however, are still open in their recruiting process, as are Thursday’s decommitments. Three-star defensive end Darrell Jackson out of East Gadsden High School in Havana, Fla., however, decommitted this past Monday and has now committed to Mike Locksley and the Maryland Terrapins.

How can you look at this and think Tennessee football is on the right track? The Vols are 2-6 and losing all the momentum they had in the summer. That eight-game losing streak is way in the rearview mirror, as is that 2021 class that was once ranked No. 1 in the SEC.

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Now, the Vols only have 23 commitments, and they are out of the top 10 across all recruiting services. They’re likely to fall out of the top 15 soon enough. And this is right as most recruits are about to lock in with a program.

If Pruitt can’t win on the field, he at least needed to sell luring top-notch talent off the field. That’s not happening anymore, and it may signify time to cut bait with him. He can’t use the lack of practice time due the pandemic as an excuse on this one.

If there is any good news, Tennessee football is still a favorite by a majority to land both of Thursday’s decommitments, Jones and Wolfe, on the Rivals Fan Future Cast. They are also a favorite to land Lewis on the Rivals FutureCast and the Rivals Fan Future Cast.

However, the Rivals Fan Future Cast  247Sports Crystal Ball have the Ole Miss Rebels as the favorite to land Wolfe, and the 247Sports Crystal Ball has the Auburn Tigers as the favorite to land Lewis. There are no other official projections yet for Jones. The LSU Tigers, meanwhile, are the unanimous favorite to land McGhee on all official projections.

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Simply put, this is only good news if you consider getting back what you lost good news in recruiting and not building on what you have. Tennessee football is still a complete disaster, and signs point to it only getting worse. With these decommitments, it’s a better time to panic now more than ever.