Tennessee’s coaches rest within the borders of a state as rich in talent as it’s ever been.
A junior day recruiting event in Knoxville on Saturday included a vast number of in-state playmakers. Butch Jones explained to that group the importance of their staying put and representing the Power T.
In attendance was Franklin Road Academy sophomore talent Lance Wilhoite.
“It was fun because we had other recruits from all over the nation, plus we had one-on-one time with coach Jones,” Wilhoite said. “So it was really nice.
“I was surprised that a lot more coaches knew my name and liked how they introduced themselves to me.”
The Vols coaches told the Nashville native and other Volunteer State recruits on hand that “they wanted us to stay home and keep ourselves safe and healthy.”
“When went to our one-on-one with coach Jones, he wanted us to stay together because as we go down to Georgia and Florida, he said that those teams really have their own kids from that state. He really wants us to stay together.”
Tennessee had coaching changes this offseason, including former Michigan head coach and Oregon assistant Brady Hoke taking over the leadership of the Big Orange defensive linemen. Charlton Warren is the new defensive backs coach.
“One of the coaches that used to coach at Oregon came up to the school and just seeing him here and us getting to talk to each other, it was pretty good,” the 6-foot-3, 170-pounder said. “Plus, the DBs coach, he recruited my cousin.”
The 16-year-old got his first scholarship before he had a driver’s permit with South Florida pulling the trigger. He’s now the owner of 11 scholarship offers with Louisville and N.C. State being the most recent.
“It’s going pretty good,” Wilhoite said. “I’m a sophomore and it’s nice to have all the exposure and stuff. It keeps my edge.
“I’m trying to see how big it gets first and then I’ll start trying to narrow it down.”
Tennessee was the Music City native’s top school early in the process, but he undoubtedly has several options, including offers from half of the Southeastern Conference. He next plans to visit Florida and Mississippi.
Proximity is a factor for Wilhoite, which gives some programs’ within a short drive of his family an advantage over the rest. He’s already taken at least half a dozen visits to Rocky Top.
“That’s going to be a factor, being close to home,” he said, “because I really want like my family and friends to see me play football. So that’s a big factor in where I want to go.”
Tennessee is recruiting Wilhoite as a wide receiver but ranks by Scout as an athlete. He’s somewhat up in the air with his positional preference.
“I don’t know yet,” Wilhoite said. “I think I’ll make my decision probably next year of where I really want to play. Until then, I’ll play wherever.”
He has the length and frame to be a big-time pass catcher. The Volunteer State's 2019 class may have its best crop of wide receivers in several years. Wilhoite is part of that group alongisde Blackman High's Trey Knox, East Nashville's Jashon Watkins and Independence High's Kendrell Scurry and TJ Sheffield.