To make Tennessee’s balanced offensive attack work and at a tempo desired by third-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones, wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni needs a crop of talent with which to rotate into the game with the bullets flying.
The staff in Knoxville welcomed Saraland (Ala.) High School receiver Velus Jones to Rocky Top for an official visit last weekend.
“I had a good time with coach Z and coach Jones,” Velus Jones said. “So it was a great trip.”
Von Pearson runs out of eligibility at Tennessee after the Outback Bowl against Northwestern. Finding a talent to replace Pearson is key with the 2016 signing class.
“They were thinking slot because they were saying how they’re not gonna have anybody at slot,” Jones said. “The slots keep them going and they can be fast with the slot. They said they were going to use me for reverses, jet sweeps and stuff like that and putting me on disadvantages for the defenses.”
Saarland is a rival in the Heart of Dixie with Jackson High, which produced Tennessee redshirt freshman linebacker Gavin Bryant, who was a player host to Jones. Redshirt sophomore Alvin Kamara and junior cornerback Cameron Sutton also helped show Jones around.
“First day at Tennessee I saw the facilities,” Velus Jones said. “I ate really, really good at this restaurant. I went out with the football players — Gavin Bryant.”
Other official visits were taken to Oklahoma and Michigan.
“All three of them are kind of similar. Michigan was cold of course. It’s just all about feeling at home and everything,” the Scout No. 1-ranked pass catcher in the Yellowhammer State said.
Jones tentatively has Jan. 15 and Jan. 22 marked on the calendar with rides to South Bend and Starkville being among possibilities for the remaining official visits.
“Next in line are Notre Dame and Mississippi State — I really like Mississippi State a lot. Notre Dame just offered like last week,” he said.
The Scout three-star prospect warned that he could pull the trigger on making his second commitment during or after any visit.
“Anything can happen. That’s all I’m saying.”
Jones is still considered a soft commit to Southern California in spite of some coaching changes at Troy.
“I’m still committed to USC until something happens,” he said. “I’m just going to pick the college that’s best for me.
“They just got in contact with me because (USC assistant coach) Tee Martin wasn’t really sure if he was going to stay or not when (Steve) Sarkisian got fired. They usually get rid of some of the staff or all of the staff. He wasn’t going to recruit me not knowing if he was going to be there. He said he’s going to be staying and has a chance to be the offensive coordinator.”
Saraland lost in the first round of the AHSAA Class 6A state playoffs to Benjamin Russell 41-10 on Nov. 6. Jones did all he could do for his team in his prep finale, catching seven passes for 79 yards and toting the rock five times for 61 yards.
Scout regional recruiting analyst John Garcia Jr. contributed to this report.