Photo by Danny Parker

4-star Reuben Unije growing fond of Tennessee coaches

Reuben Unije was back on Tennessee's campus for the Vols' spring finale in April. Read what the Scout four-star prospect said about his recruitment.

Reuben Unije is no stranger to Knoxville.

The 2018 class offensive tackle has made an estimated four trips to Tennessee’s campus with the most recent coming April 22 when Unije attended the DISH Orange & White game in Neyland Stadium.

“It was cool, really neat," Unije told InsideTennessee.

The relationship building between program and recruit in Tennessee’s case was forged with linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen. Unije said he speaks with Thigpen roughly three times a week, calling the veteran assistant a "funny guy."

The coaching staff as a whole is one of the things the Scout four-star prospect and No. 32-ranked offensive tackle in the nation finds most attractive about the Volunteers.

"They have a lot of good chemistry," Unije said. "I like the coaches — big family."

The IMG (Fla.) Academy blocker stayed that Saturday night in Knoxville in order to be around members of Team 121 "get a feel with the players, see how it is." He listed Jauan Jennings, Drew Richmond, Quarté Sapp and Trey Smith as some of the Vols with whom he’s close.

The Alpharetta, Georgia, native and former Johns Creek High School talent took his talents south to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, last summer. The 2016 season was just his third playing organized football. He will line up this fall on the same front as fellow Tennessee target Daniel Faalele.

The 6-foot-6, 309-pound Unije, who is already bench pressing over 300 pounds and squatting over 500, broke into sports by wrestling and playing some basketball.

Unije plans to complete his diploma requirements in December and enroll in college in January.

InsideTennessee's Gabriella Santa contributed to this report.

IT’s Take: Reuben Unije scouting report

Unije has plenty of height and length to play offensive tackle on a high level. When engaged with defenders, he does a sound job of maintaining contact, not taking plays off and not allowing them clearance to find ball carriers. The lack of experience playing right tackle is evident on film as he grabs jerseys too often and attempts to sling ends to the ground, which is not going to work in college. If he can improve his foot speed, Unije can stay out wide at tackle after high school with expectations for him to stay on the right side. Otherwise he will need to slide inside. Regardless, Unije must improve his mobility as more and more programs are asking all offensive linemen to get out and make blocks in space.

The Peach State native competes at the premier football academy in the nation and has a greater chance working through his “raw” skills and developing proper technique in Bradenton than just about anywhere else, although IMG did post an opening March 31 to coach offensive linemen there. He also is expected to start college life in January with advanced strength levels for a teenage blocker.

John Garcia, Jr. | Scout

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