The Monday Mailbag

Welcome to another edition of the Monday Mailbag. You ask the questions, we answer them, you smile and nod your head.

Who are the remaining recruits at the top of our board? — novol

There are a handful of prospects presumed to be at the top of Butch Jones’ wish list for the 2016 class, but three of the most sought after blue chip recruits on Tennessee’s board are Nigel Knott, Nigel Warrior and B.J. Emmons (guys named Nigel are apparently really good at football.) Knott is the No. 1-ranked cornerback in Mississippi whose speed and raw talent have endeared him to some of the best college football programs in the country. The 5-11, 171-pound lightning bolt hasn’t begun to whittle down his top ten list that includes the Vols. Warrior is a Scout four-star prospect and the No. 1-rated safety in the South Region who Jones and company have been courting for some time now. The Scout 300 member is a Tennessee legacy whose dad, Dale Carter, was an All-American for the Vols in the 1990s, which could play a factor in his decision. Emmons, a rising senior running back, is a fellow Scout four-star prospect who was once committed to Georgia but has since reopened his recruitment. Rated as the best running back in North Carolina, Emmons has offers from Alabama, Florida and the Bulldogs, among others. He visited for Orange Carpet Day as well and said he liked the family atmosphere and “One Tennessee” mantra that has defined the Vols’ program since Jones took over. Snagging at least two of these guys would make the 2016 class a success.

Are there any players that are not expected to be physically ready to go in August? — novol

Thanks for your dedication to the mailbag, novol. You win a firm handshake and a smile. The most significant player still trying to get back to his old self is wide receiver Preston Williams, who — if healthy — will be asked to contribute sooner rather than later to help a wide out corps that could always use solid depth. Williams had ACL surgery last winter after tearing two knee ligaments and has spent the last eight months rehabbing to prepare for the 2015 season. He’s been catching and tucking balls and running in a straight line while slowly starting to cut again for the first time since the injury. Recovering from something as complex as ACL surgery is always an uphill battle, even for a freakish athlete like the Scout No. 1-ranked wide receiver in the 2015 class. He most likely won’t be completely pre-injury 100 percent by August, but Williams is so athletic and talented it would not surprise me if he were able to contribute earlier than people believe.

What was your favorite jersey combo? I’m partial to the smokey grays myself. — Alex D.

I raved about the white baseball uniforms in IT’s insider report last week so I won’t use that answer again, but the BaseVols definitely received the largest overall upgrade from adidas to NIKE. Those all whites are super clean and just look how baseball uniforms are supposed to look. Sticking with this theme, I’d have to say my favorite uniforms were the all-white road Stormtrooper jersey-pants combination in football. It’s a classic Tennessee design that didn’t stray too far from the historic look the Vols are known for coupled with a few innovative tweaks to make them even better. For one, I love the orange collar that pops on the white with a “V” shape cascading down into a point near the numbers. Sources told IT the “V” near the heart represents the idea of taking the Volunteer spirit on the road, which I thought was a really cool touch. I’ll also go ahead and say this — I’m a huge fan of the smokey gray basketball unis. I know some people were madder than John Goodman after discovering someone took the last donut about the black stripe over the “Vols” script on the front, but to me it makes them stand out even more and is a different look than most other alternates that are all black. In fact, there really wasn't a combination across all the sports that I didn’t like honestly. That’s a testament to both NIKE and Tennessee’s collaboration and the fact that I’m Zoolander when it comes to fashion.

Thanks for all your questions this week. To send a question for future editions, email cory.a.gunkel@gmail.com, tweet @CoryGunkel, post on the InsideTennessee message boards or yell really loud.


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