It’s called the “crazy season” for a reason…and it’s no different at Tennessee.
Pressure to win college football games is immense and having the best 85-man roster possible starts with recruiting. However, a verbal commitment to a school simply means the competition will shift gears on how their program is sold in order to “flip” a commitment.
Here’s a look at some prospects committed elsewhere that are taking a look at the Volunteers as well as Big Orange pledges that continue to listen to other schools’ programs:
Flips to Tennessee?
Mike Horton — Lakeside (Ga.) High
Coaching changes can have quite the domino effect on recruiting and the staff changes in Gainesville could result in the Atlanta-based blocker in going elsewhere. The No. 45-rated offensive guard in the 2015 class has strength and size to play almost immediately. Auburn and Tennessee are two schools that haven’t slowed their recruitment of Horton much since pulling the trigger for Florida back on July 31.
Jaason Lewis — Ocean Lakes (Va.) High
Wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni shifted gears from recruiting parts of the Midwest to recruiting the Virginia Beach region and that work has paid off with several talented recruits boasting about his ability to sell Rocky Top. Lewis bought in early and Tennessee led a year ago before pledges to UCLA and then Arizona State. At 6-foot-4, 240, Lewis could play a number of positions, including running back. He has spoken about an official visit to Knoxville just before National Signing Day but that is up in the air.
Tyree St. Louis — IMG Academy
As with Horton, St. Louis would fill an enormous void as Tennessee must continue rebuilding its offensive front. St. Louis has a long-standing relationship with Vols offensive line coach Don Mahoney and the staff was one of the first to get in hot and heavy on St. Louis, which he has not forgotten. If St. Louis was to flip, it’s not a guarantee that it’d be to Tennessee as the Florida Gators are also in the mix, just like with Lewis. The key is to sure up an official visit.
Flips from Tennessee?
Kendall Bussey Jr. — Newman (La.) High
Former Tennessee recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph didn’t take Bussey’s commitment to the Orange & White as a dead end. Joseph has Texas A&M in prime contention to land the multi-purpose runner should Bussey waver any. Given the needs at running back on The Hill, losing any commitment at runner would be a major blow.
Venzell Boulware — Creekside (Ga.) High
Georgia may or may not be in the picture here with staff changes and evaluative differences of opinion on certain players. Ohio State undoubtedly is and the Buckeyes finished second for the former teammate of Tennessee freshmen Elliot Berry and Evan Berry. The athletic guard says he will officially visit Columbus this weekend but Butch Jones & Co. will get the final official the weekend of Jan. 30.
Justin Martin — Northeastern Oklahoma A&M
Given his length and straight-line speed that both fit perfectly to stay on the island, teams are not going to take no for an answer with the former Overton (Tenn.) High School standout. Coaches all over seek the next version of Richard Sherman or Aqib Talib. As Scout’s No. 1-rated junior college corner in the country with three years of eligibility, Martin is extremely attractive.