Tennessee football: Five names to watch in 2022 Early Signing Period

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A military flyover passers over Neyland Stadium before an NCAA college football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the South Carolina Gamecocks in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Kns Tennessee South Carolina Football

Entering his first Early Signing Period as head coach of Tennessee football, Josh Heupel has 17 commitments for 2022 and a class ranking that ranges from No. 20 to No. 24 depending on the service. However, that class rank has been improving dramatically in recent weeks, even with the loss of a couple of commitments.

It’s unclear just how much talent Heupel and the Vols will add when this period begins. However, what is clear is that with Hendon Hooker coming back and the gains they can make in the transfer portal, they should have plenty of depth and talent next year no matter what.

Which players could add to that plus give them a foundation for the future? Well, plenty are still out there, but for Wednesday, there are a few we have zoned in on and who UT is targeting. These are the five players to watch for that Tennessee football may have a shot with during the 2022 Early Signing Period.

5. James Pearce

Edge rusher; Charlotte N.C.

Although he is on the list, there are multiple reasons James Pearce is at the bottom. The product of Julius L. Chambers High School in North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County is only a four-star on one major service, Rivals, and a three-star everywhere else. Also, he seems like the most locked in player at another school.

Three 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions all have Pearce landing with the South Carolina Gamecocks. That program is also the unanimous favorite on the Rivals Future Cast and the majority favorite on the Rivals Fan Future Cast to land him.

As a result, it’ll be a bit of an uphill battle for Tennessee football to lure Pearce to Rocky Top. However, nothing is set in stone yet, and edge rusher is a position in which the Vols can never have enough depth. As a result, keep an eye on what he does over the next few days. There’s a chance UT or the Louisville Cardinals pull off a surprise.

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