The law of supply and demand dictates the Vols can afford to be highly selective as the next 180 days of the 2009 recruiting campaign unfold. That's not to say they will only take four- and five-star prospects but it does mean they will address remaining needs with players that are good fits with high upside.
Despite that qualifier Tennessee is a serious contender for several five-star talents and are likely to land a couple to go with a class that already has 17 commitments highlighted by six four-star prospects. The Vols also have some very solid three-star verbals that could easily be upgraded to the four-star category by the time their senior seasons are concluded.
Dealing with a working number of eight let's hypothesize a reasoned best case scenario to get the biggest bang out of the Volunteers' scholarship buck. With those guidelines loosely in place let's venture to rate a Great Eight that would make Tennessee's Class of 2009 a vintage sublime.
(1) Marlon Brown needs no introduction on any web site this shade of orange. The five-star talent carries the Volunteer State's banner as top prospect and is the first five-star wide receiver the state has produced since Patrick Turner in 2005. Of course, Turner signed with USC and is playing his senior season this fall. The Vols can't afford to let another big-play wideout escape the state, although they have an excellent four-star wideout pledged in JeRon Stokes of Philly, Pa. Brown may only be marginally better than Stokes due to his combination of small forward size and sprinter's speed, but status and statehood make Brown a true centerpiece to UT's Class of ‘09.
(2) Akiem Hicks a 6-foot-6, 295-pound, JUCO defensive tackle from Sacramento, Calif. would factor into the playing picture in the trenches from the day he walks on campus. Can slide down to nose guard giving him added value in flex fronts.
(3) Arthur Jefffery of Booker High School in Sarasota, Fla., has popped up on UT's most wanted list. At 6-4, 285, Jeffery augments his 4.9 speed with athleticism, quickness and excellent leverage. As a junior he had 74 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, five blocked kicks, and four caused fumbles. He also started on the O-line.
(4) Jelani Jenkins, 6-1, 200, of Wheaton, Md., is a prototypical Will linebacker with stunning speed and electric talent. Put him on the edge and he'll make every QB in the SEC a little bit edgy. The two-way starter and five-star prospect is rated No. 2 nationally at his position and is the highest ranked defensive prospect the Vols are currently contending for. As a junior he recorded 60 tackles, four sacks, an INT, a forced fumble and two recoveries. On offense he rushed for 791 yards and 16 touchdowns. And he is a 4.0 student.
In tonight's next installment we take a look at Four More of the Great Eight.