The Monday Mailbag

A special National Signing Day edition of The Monday Mailbag.

What's the feeling on Jonathan Kongbo? — Andy 

My dad's name is Andy, so if this is you, please send money. If it's not my dad, send money anyway. Kongbo is a hard read. I talked to the Scout five-star defensive end Sunday and didn't come away with much of a feel for where he's leaning at the moment. He does a good job of being very diplomatic in his answers and said Florida State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and USC were all in it and he hoped to have a decision made in his mind by today. Kongbo enjoyed his FSU visit over the weekend but also got some personal time with Tennessee's coaching staff at Arizona Western College before his trip, so I'm inclined to think it's between those two schools with the Trojans still clawing away and Ole Miss in the rear. If you forced me to make a prediction right this second, though, I'd say Tennessee. You can check out the premium article on what Kongbo told me here.

Your overall thoughts on this class? — pjustice 

My colleague Danny Parker has said it many times before and I'm in total agreement: this is a developmental class for Butch Jones, and a really nice one at that. The fact that Tennessee's 2016 crop has a shot at being a Top 20 recruiting class with just 20-ish committments is a testament to the work done by Butch Jones and his staff. With a few fliers sprinkled in, the Vols' 2016 class has the potential to be one of the best defensive back groups in Knoxville in a long, long time with D.J. Henderson, Baylen Buchanan, Marquill Osborne and posisbly Nigel Warrior. Tennessee got a running back it needed in Scout four-star speedster Carlin Fils-Aime and two extremely talented offensive tackles (Ryan Johnson and Marcus Tatum) who help solidify the whole class. Oh yeah, and one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Jarrett Guarantano. It could be a lot worse for Tennessee fans. 

Who was your favorite person to interview? — wtmvol 

This was asked in our chat on InsideTennessee.com and it's a great question. Some guys really don't like talking to the media while other guys relish it. My personal favorite recruit to interview this year was Scout four-star offensive tackle Ryan Johnson. He always has a smile on his face and looks like he's having the time of his life in the process. He's also articulate, intelligent and interesing. Some of his best quotes of the year: 

On what he did in front of Tennessee's studio green screen at Orange Carpet Day: "I pet a camel. I stood next to the Statue of Liberty. I was at the beach, the Eiffel tower. I’m a world traveler.”

On what Jarrett Guarantano said to him when they visited together: “He made sure that I was still eating. He wanted to make sure I was still keeping my weight. He was very concerned about that." 

On committing to Tennessee early: “I’m glad I made an early decision so I can help recruit and get other players to come here so we can come here, get the best players and win championships, win rings. I want to rings. I want to win championships. That’s my goal.”

With the loss of Cam Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Alvin Kamara and possible loss of Jalen Hurd and Derek Barrnett, what positions will be critical to fill in 2017 and approximately how many need to be recruited at each position? — MajVol

Whoa! Already working on 2017, are we? That's dedication, folks. I think running backs will be one of Tennessee's main concerns with both Kamara and Hurd assumed to be gone. Wide receiver will be another position the Vols recruit, and they already have the best pass-catcher in the Volunteer State verbally committed in Tee Higgins. Defensive end too. I don't want to put a quantitative number on it just yet, but those are my rough guesses.


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