Tennessee digs into preparations for the 2017 season and the 2018 class recruiting cycle with several new coaches on staff.
Those first-year Vols assistants must hit the ground running getting to know premier targets. Among the most intriguing prospects for ’18 is Brant Lawless, who made the drive to Rocky Top with family on Saturday for a junior day event.
The Nashville Christian School defensive tackle called it a “great experience, a lot of people, great coaches, I got to talk to (first-year Tennessee defensive line coach) Brady Hoke, a great coach. I’m glad I got to meet (Hoke), he seems like a really good guy. We’re working on growing a relationship. That’d definitely help a lot in the recruiting process.”
Hoke came on board this winter, replacing Steve Stripling. One of the first calls Hoke made upon arrival went out to Lawless.
“I really enjoyed meeting (Hoke) and getting to talk to him today,” Lawless said. “We were talking before about getting to meet each other. It was a really great impression and hopefully we’ll meet soon and talk shortly.
“(Hoke) was saying he’s been here for like 17 days. As he’s been here, he started right off the bat recruiting heavy. Definitely a really great, great man and a really good coach. I enjoyed talking to him and getting to meet him today.
“I wouldn’t mind playing for (Hoke). He definitely seems like he knows what he’s talking about. He’s really big on the education thing. That’s always good to see that in a coach. We talked about the defense and what he sees me playing in and helping me in different areas. We sat down and we went over some film. That’s always really good getting to do that with a guy.”
The Scout three-star prospect speaks as though he will make a verbal commitment sooner than some of the other prolific talents in the mid-state.
“I’ve been discussing it with my parents,” Lawless said. “Definitely coming up during the football season, so before August making a decision and being done with it.”
Tennessee is one of the teams to beat for the 6-foot-2, 285-pounder. He mentioned Ohio State as well.
“I don’t really know right now; I’m still deciding,” said Lawless, who doesn’t yet know where he will visit next.
The Nashville resident is part of a 2018 crop of Volunteer State recruits that coach Butch Jones and his staff want to keep at home.
“It definitely makes sense,” Lawless said. “In-state guys should definitely stay at home and help the state and play at home. But what they’re saying is definitely true.”
Lawless, who grew up playing basketball with fellow Vols D-tackle target D’Andre Litaker, has enjoyed getting to know some other blue-chip prospects.
“Greg Emerson, he’s a pretty good dude, got to talk to him, meet him and we text every now and then,” Lawless said. “It’s always good meeting him, talking with guys in your class.”
Tennessee freshman linebacker Daniel Bituli competed for a TSSAA state championship alongside Lawless at Nashville Christian.
“Daniel is a very humble guy,” Lawless said. “He kind of kept everything to himself, quiet guy. So it’s always good learning from him. Great experience talking to him, growing with him, brother love. So that’s always good.
“I learned a lot from watching him and how he took it in and the way he did things and how he handled it. I piggybacked off that and kind of taking it in the same way.”
Vols defensive tackles such as Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle could potentially be teammates of Lawless if he signs with Tennessee.
“I came up as a freshman and sophomore hearing a lot about those guys,” Lawless said. “They’re really good players I heard. I’ve kind of watched them play, too. Hopefully we’ll see how their season goes this year.”