As all are aware, the state's top prospect is Marlon Brown, a five-star wideout from Memphis Harding Academy. He recently slipped to No. 3 in Scout.com's receiver rankings while dropping from No. 12 overall to No. 19. Due to Brown's in-state status he is still the Vols' top priority. The recent slippage may reflect a belief that Brown's competition isn't as tough as some of other elite wideouts face. Other sources indicate his route running needs to improve as well as his upper body strength. However when it comes to gaining yards after the catch Brown is as good as any prospect in his class.
The prospect that replaced Brown at No. 2 in Scout's rankings is Rueben Randle of Bastrop, La. The Vols are also in contention for Randle's services along with Alabama, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss and USC. Listed No. 13 in Scout's Top 300, he runs a 4.50 and caught 55 passes for 1,058 yards (an average of nearly 20 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns. He also returned three punts the distance. When all is said and done it would be surprising if Randle gets out of Louisiana, although he is taking visits (most recently to Miami).
Remarkably, Tennessee is also in contention for No. 4 wide receiver Kendall Kelly of Gasden, Ala., meaning it is a finalists or have signed four of the top six receiver prospects. Kelly, 6-3, 210, runs a 4.5 and caught 34 passes for 595 yards and carried the ball 17 times for 189 yards. He scored nine touchdowns. He is looking closely at Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina and Tennessee.
If Randle, Brown and Kelly end up at state university's as many suspect will happen, that puts the Vols in ideal position to pick up two of the top six and possibly three of the top seven if they are able to extract No. 7 wideout Rodney Smith of Miami, Fla., to leave the Sunshine State. Currently FSU is the only Big Three Florida school listed among his favorites.
Randle has the potential to be as good as any of the other top seven. The 6-foot-4.5, 201-pound athlete runs a 4.53, has a 40-inch vertical leap and a 4.28 shuttle. In addition to UT and FSU, he likes Auburn, Boston College, Minnesota, Ole Miss and South Florida. Vol assistant Stan Drayton has a lot of contacts in the state from his experience at Florida. He was instrumental in the decision o No. 25 f running back Jarvis Giles, of Tampa, to commit to UT.
One of the fastest rising prospects in the nation is No. 6 tight end Richard Wilson of Spanish Fork, Utah. As a junior, he recorded 46 catches for 690 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect runs a 4.68 time in the 40 and has good strength with 17 reps of 185 pounds on the bench, seven reps of 425 pounds on the squat and two reps of 245 pounds on the power clean. Wilson is slated to visit Knoxville next month. He is also looking at offers from Boise State, BYU, LSU, Miami, Utah and Washington. Recent reports have USC ready to offer as well.
Tennessee could be on the verge of restoring its reputation as Wide Receiver U, which should be a reminder to Vol fans that behind every successful quarterback there are a lot of catches.