KNOXVILLE – Coach Butch Jones and his staff have through Saturday night to make a final impression on the last batch of visitors comimg to Knoxville before National Signing Day next Wednesday.
Though recruiting schedules regularly change at the last moment, Tennessee is schedule to host 2013 recruits wide receiver Tyler Boyd, linebacker E.J. Levenberry and defensive end Malik Brown this weekend.
Boyd and Brown confirmed via Twitter on Friday that they are heading to Knoxville. Levenberry is expected to make it in after cancelling a previous visit due to illness.
Levenberry is perhaps the biggest target expected to be there. The Vols are thin at linebacker and the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder out of Woodbridge, Va., would be a nice addition to UT’s class that currently only has one true linebacker – Corey Vereen. Levenberry is currently committed to Florida State, but that pledge is shaky at this point.
“Levenberry is a strong, overpowering middle linebacker with ideal size,” ESPN.com wrote in a scouting report. “He's tall and well-built with good bulk. He has a muscular frame and could continue to fill out to the 235-pound range.”
Boyd, a 6-3, 180-pound receiver from Clairton, Pa., is currently committed to Pitt. The four-star prospect is expected to choose between Pitt, West Virginia and Tennessee on signing day.
The Vols already have commitments from receivers Marquez North, Josh Smith, Paul Harris and Ryan Jenkins in this class, but with virtually all of 2012’s receiving production leaving, adding Boyd would be a nice luxury to help rebuild the unit.
Brown is a three-star, 6-3, 250-pound defensive end from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., who is currently committed to Syracuse. Tennessee visited him in his home this week and secured a visit for this final recruiting weekend. Tennessee is behind in this one, but could have a shot if it impresses him over the weekend.
Kicker to be a preferred walk on: Tennessee secured the services of kicker Andrew Gantz on Thursday after he committed to a preferred walk-on spot with the Vols.
The Ohio native won’t be on scholarship his first year, but will have a chance to earn one after that. He is ranked as the 11th best overall kicker nationally, according to 247Sports’ composite ranking.
The Vols return three kickers next year – senior Michael Palardy, redshirt junior Derrick Brodus and redshirt freshman George Bullock.
Juniors in town over the weekend: It’s never too early to start working on the next recruiting class. In addition to the three 2013 visitors expected this weekend, the Vols will be hosting multiple high school juniors who are prospects for the 2014 class.
Potential junior visitors:
• RB Sedric Palmer (5-10, 205)
• ATH Vic Wharton (5-11, 175) *2014 UT commitment
• LB Dillon Bates (6-3, 220)
• WR Neiko Creamer (6-4, 220)
• OL Akeem Cooperwood (6-6, 330)
• LB Petera Wilson (6-3, 215)
Two top UT targets to announce on ESPNU: One hour next Wednesday morning will go a long way in determining how UT’s 2013 recruiting class finishes. Five-star defensive end Carl Lawson (9:10 a.m. ET) and five-star defensive back Vonn Bell (10:05 a.m. ET) will both be announcing their final selection live on ESPNU.
Tennessee is in the top three for both top prospects. The Vols are battling Auburn and Clemson for Lawson. Alabama and Ohio State are Tennessee’s top competitors for Bell’s signature.
Daniel Lewis covers University of Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga