Given what happened at the Georgia Bulldogs two weeks ago, it’s pretty clear Tennessee football needs more depth at the edge rusher spot. That’s another step towards being elite. Well, Josh Heupel is working his magic on that front, and he has the Vols trending for one of the best.
Samuel M’Pemba, a defensive end out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., has the Vols in his top four. A five-star on Rivals but a four-star on everywhere else, M’Pemba’s five-star Rivals rating was significant enough to also make him a five-star on 247Sports Composite and On3 Consensus.
M’Pemba hailed from St. Louis, Mo., before attending the prep school in Manatee County. Joining Tennessee football on his list are the Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs and Miami Hurricanes. He announced the schools and his commitment date Monday afternoon on Twitter.
Standing between 6’3″ and 6’4″ while weighing in the range of 240 to 255 pounds, M’Pemba is actually considered a weakside defensive end on Rivals. That’s a bit shocking because players with his profile listed as edge rushers elsewhere are usually considered strongside defensive ends.
Either way, he appears to have the right size, is part of the right program and brings the right level of hype to be an elite edge rusher at the next level. That’s something UT will desperately need with Byron Young likely leaving after this year.
One factor that could help the Vols is that Heupel has ties to where M’Pemba is and where he is from. As head coach of the UCF Knights for three years, Heupel likely built lots of connections to IMG Academy. However, he was also the Missouri Tigers offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017, so he has St. Louis ties too.
Currently, Georgia is the unanimous favorite on the Rivals Future Cast. On3 also has them as the overwhelming majority favorite, and they have three of the four 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions. Even the Rivals Fan Future Cast has them tied for the favorite.
On the other hand, Mizzou is tied with them there, and On3 has Mizzou in third, and they didn’t make the cut, so forecasters could be missing some things here. That may be enough to help Tennessee football before he makes his commitment in the coming weeks.