It’s not hard to find out if a college football program is truly interested in a recruit. If the head coach is involved in the relationship building, rest assured a signature on a National Letter of Intent is a program goal.
Jaylon Reed says Tennessee coach Butch Jones sends him text messages “everyday.” That communication is partly why Reed verbally committed to the Volunteers on April 27.
“I just felt most comfortable at Tennessee,” Reed told InsideTennessee. “Future-wise, academic-wise, I just felt more comfortable at Tennessee.”
The Olive Branch (Miss.) High School cornerback doesn’t just hear from the head man. Recruiting coordinator Robert Gillespie and defensive backs coach Charlton Warren also chip in on convincing Reed to don the orange and white in 2018.
“I think I’ve heard from coach Gillespie the most,” Reed said. “He’s the coach hitting me up but coach Warren talks to me a lot, too. I guess they’re double-teaming me if you wanna say.”
The No. 1 cornerback in the Magnolia State’s 2018 class was in the grandstands to watch the Vols in April during the DISH Orange & White Game. The weather forecast wasn’t terrific but over 30,000 still showed.
“They some diehard fans,” Reed said. “The people that did come out — even with the rain — they knew the exceptions and still come out.
“I don’t know, there’s still something different about that fan base. They country but they country strong. They’ll stick behind you.”
The South’s No. 23-ranked cornerback doesn’t know many players on the roster but has spent time with a starter in the defensive backfield.
“When I came down there, I hung out with RaShaan (Gaulden),” said Reed, who is being recruited by the Volunteers as a cornerback.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder, who reports that he has clocked a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, gave an idea as to what college coaches like in his game.
“They tell me they like my size, my patience and my explosiveness out of my break. I can just stick my foot in the ground and change direction,” Reed said.
Experience honing his ball skills and accumulating interceptions was hard to come by in his junior season. It could be more of the same in Fall 2017.
“My 10th grade year they threw at me a whole lot because on the other side I used to have a Memphis commit named Sanchez Blake, who is playing at Memphis now,” Reed said. “So they were trying me because I was the weaker side I guess you would say because you don’t want to throw to the big guy. But like last season — I think it was after the second game — people just started gameplanning to throw it away from me because every time they would try, I’d get close to getting it or I would break on it and knock it out of the receiver’s hands. They just legit started throwing my way and just running my way because I had a D-end on the opposite side. So they would try to run away from him and throw away from me.”
Look for Reed to return to Knoxville in the coming months and to have company with him.
“I’ll probably come up there with my coach during the summer because my coach said he wants to come up there and see it because, you know, he wants to see how beautiful it looks. I told him how good it looks. If I don’t get up there during the summer, I will come up there for a couple games during the season,” he said.
An official visit to Tennessee is expected to arrive in the fall but Reed’s status may be moved to “soft commit” if he follows through with potentially taking official visits elsewhere.
“Whoever is still talking to me by then, I’m going to decide to take the visit,” Reed said. “Not everyday do people fly you off to they college for free, so I’m going to try to take advantage of those five. If I don’t get five, I’m going to go somewhere. I just want to see different sides of the United States. So I’m going to try to take advantage of that.”
The defensive back is doing what he can with the books so he can enroll officially at Tennessee several months in advance of when signees normally arrive.
“Right now I’m trying to get approved to be an early enrollee,” Reed said.