Taking on some of the top defenses in the nation year-in and year-out, Tennessee coaches fully realize they must stockpile talent along the offensive front.
One of the top targets in the 2015 class is Emanuel McGirt, who rates as the Tar Heel State’s best offensive tackle.
The 6-foot-5 1/2, 275-pounder says the Big Orange must play catch-up to beat out Georgia, LSU and N.C. State. That’s not a simple task given that he’s never seen Rocky Top.
Tennessee’s recruitment of McGirt figures to crank up a notch. In fact, the Scout four-star says he spoke with Vols coaches on Wednesday evening.
“It was kind of on and off,” McGirt said. “They came by the school and offered and then for a long time they didn’t really communicate with me. Then, my coach sent them my first two games. The next day they told me they really want me. I think the Drew Richmond thing kind of elevated that more, too. So, their interest in me is pretty high right now.”
Second-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones undoubtedly wants to keep Volunteer State talent at home. Thus, making Richmond a priority was a simple decision. McGirt takes no offense to the staff’s placing importance on signing Richmond.
“No, not really. It’s understandable,” McGirt said.
The No. 24-ranked senior offensive tackle in the nation was in Athens to see Georgia beat up Clemson 45-21 on Aug. 30.
“That was fun, a lot of fun. It went well,” McGirt said.
McGirt says “family atmosphere, relationships with coaches, having a chance to play, relationships with the players” are the top items that mean the most to him in making a decision.
The 17-year-old, who ranks by Scout as the No. 245 prospect in the nation for the 2015 signing class, says his first contact with the Tennessee staff came via linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen. He’s also spoken with Jones and offensive line coach Don Mahoney.
The Hillside High School standout from Durham, North Carolina, says he’s a well-rounded blocker.
“I think that I pass pro pretty well, and I think that I’m pretty athletic. I have a lot of things to work on but I think I do all right,” said McGirt, who bench presses 305 pounds.
An opportunity to play tackle as a true freshman at offensive tackle in the Southeastern Conference doesn’t come along often, however, the four-star says his top schools have all discussed that possibility.
“I think that at all three places that I like, I have the same opportunities,” McGirt said. “So, I think that’s great for me. At LSU, they talk about how I’ll have a chance to start as a freshman, which is obviously hard and you have to come in and do the work. At all the places, I’ll have an opportunity as a young guy. At any school you go to you have to work hard and hard work pays off.”
McGirt says he plans to head back to Georgia either Sept. 27 or Oct. 4. He will take an official visit to LSU but hasn’t set a date. An official or unofficial visit to Tennessee is in the works, possibly for when the Vols take on Alabama Oct. 25 or Florida on Oct. 4.
“I may or may not take an official there because I’ve been down there a lot. So, I don’t know,” he said of a possible official visit to see N.C. State.
McGirt had plans to enroll at the university of his choice in January but changed his mind. He carries a 20 ACT score with a 1490 SAT and a 4.2 grade point average. He plans to be a vet, so majoring in Animal Sciences or Biology are both possibilities.
Emanuel McGirt 2014 NIKE Camp highlights:
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