Second-year coach Butch Jones has clearly upgraded the talent pool at Tennessee. A lot of the roster’s rejuvination began with bringing in talented players whose family members donned the orange and white in the past.
The staff on Rocky Top will do their best to sway an old Southeastern Conference rival’s legacy recruit in their chase for junior outside linebacker and Scout four-star Ben Davis.
Davis, son of former Alabama player Wayne Davis, landed a scholarship offer from the Big Orange on Sept. 3. Though the Gordo (Ala.) High star has grown up in a state that isn’t exactly known for its admiration of Tennessee, the offer made quite an impression.
“It was a great feeling," Davis told InsideTennessee. "I feel really honored and blessed to be able to receive an offer from Tennessee. You know, an SEC school, big-time, have a great program, great history, great coaches. I’m just excited to go up there and see what they have to offer me and see what the school has.”
Defensive coordinatior John Jancek has led the Vols’ efforts to land Davis up to this point.
“Coach Jancek, he’s a really cool guy. He’s actually the one who gave me the (scholarship) offer,” the 6-foot-4, 219-pounder said. “He sent me pictures of (Tennessee’s) stadium, and he told me it’s the biggest stadium in the SEC. So, yeah, he’s a really cool guy. I’m really excited to get to know him. I want to establish a relationship with him. … I’m going to come up there for some games and check out the atmosphere because I’m really interested in it.”
Despite the inevitable pressure facing an elite athlete with direct connections to a particular program, Davis credits his parents for their open-mindeness thus far in the process.
“(My parents) aren’t pressuring me to go to Alabama,” Scout’s No. 4 outside linebacker and No. 39 overall 2016 prospect said. “Wherever I feel like I have a good opportunity to get better at and wherever I wanna go, that’s where they’re going to support me. They don’t pressure me to go here or there. It’s just wherever I choose to go. … There’s no pressure at all to go to Alabama or Auburn, so I’m still going to weigh all my options and my mind is still open.”
“Open” is the ideal word to describe Davis’ recruitment at this juncture. While many top players in the 2016 class have already pledged to the school of their choice, the four-star defender declared no favorites or leaders.
“Right now, I really don’t have any top schools," said Davis, the second-highest rated outside linebacker in the Yellowhammer State. "I’m going to take some visits, schedule some visits probably in the next week or two. I haven’t really come up with a top 5 or a top 10 yet or anything like that, so I’m just going to keep taking some visits and see where I go from there.”
Since early June, Davis camped at Alabama and Auburn. Aside from the Vols and Crimson Tide, Florida, Kentucky, Miami (Fla.) and Ole Miss have offered the top talent. However, with most high schools only one or two games into this season, the Gordo, Alabama, product will have nearly two full years to bolster his profile for prospective suitors.
Davis’ eventual commitment will “probably be” during his senior season or “might lead up to National Signing Day.”
Discuss the recruitment of Davis with InsideTennessee analysts and subscribers by clicking here.