KNOXVILLE – National Signing Day, one of the biggest days on the college football calendar, has finally arrived.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Volshad received 21 letters of intent for the 2013 class. Though most players sign on Wednesday morning, there’s no official end to the signing period, meaning the Vols could add more at any point, but they are expected to stop at 21 for now.
Chose Vols over: Michigan State, East Carolina, Michigan, Maryland
Outlook: The lanky wide receiver needs to fill out his frame, but he’s got good speed and great hands. With Tennessee’s top three receivers from last season departing, Harris, who will participate in spring practice, has a great chance to make an impact in 2013.
*Lemond Johnson/ATH/6-1/190/Cooper City, Fla./3-star
Chose Vols over: Auburn, Duke, Illinois, Boston College
Outlook: The former Auburn commitment flipped to the Vols and enrolled early. He can play multiple positions, but will likely end up in the secondary ultimately. He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and will help add some much-needed speed to the defensive backs unit.
*Riyahd Jones/CB/6-0/185/Columbus City, Ga./3-star
Outlook: The junior college prospect brings good size and speed to the cornerback position. He began his career at Georgia Southern before transferring to Garden City (Kan.) Community College. He’ll have a chance to compete for playing time immediately this spring.
Chose Vols over: Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Ole Miss
Outlook: One of the most versatile players in the class, Reeves-Maybin played quarterback, running back, receiver, safety and linebacker in high school. He’s likely to end up on the defensive side of the ball for UT, either as a safety or perhaps an outside linebacker if he can add some bulk.
Chose Vols over: Clemson, Duke, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech
Outlook: Vereen could end up being the only true linebacker in this class. He played mostly defensive end in high school, but has the size and speed to play on the second level in college. The Vols are thin in number at that spot, so he will have a chance to contribute in 2013.
Outlook: Branisel had committed to coach Butch Jones when he was at Cincinnati and then switched his pledge to the Vols when Jones came to Knoxville. With top tight end Mychal Rivera departing, Branisel will compete with Brendan Downs, Justin Meredith and Woody Quinn for playing time.
Marquez North highlights (via UltimateProspects)
Marquez North/WR/6-4/215/Charlotte, N.C./4-star
Chose Vols over: Clemson, North Carolina, Auburn, Florida
Outlook: North was the highest-ranked player to commit to Jones prior to signing day. He brings ideal size and speed to the position and will have a chance to compete for a starting role as soon as he steps on campus. He’ll quickly help ease the sting of losing Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Zach Rogers.
Ryan Jenkins/WR/5-11/180/Alpharetta, Ga./3-star
Chose Vols over: Clemson, Louisville, Mississippi State
Outlook: The former Clemson commitment flipped to the Vols when Jones and his staff made him a priority. His father, Lee, was a standout defensive back for the Vols from 1980-82. Ryan Jenkins will likely end up as a slot receiver in Knoxville.
Outlook: Ferguson committed to the former staff in June, but stuck with his pledge when Jones took over. Starting quarterback Tyler Bray is gone, leaving that job up for grabs. Ferguson will be behind Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman in that competition, but he’ll get his shot starting this summer.
Malik Foreman/DB/5-10/170/Kingsport, Tenn./3-star
Chose Vols over: Vanderbilt
Outlook: Foreman is another part of Jones’ initiative to add more speed to the secondary. The former Vanderbilt commitment told Nooga.com that he runs a 4.37 40-yard dash. He’ll need to add some bulk, but his speed makes him a potential factor.
Chose Vols over: Arkansas, Cincinnati
Outlook: Smith became the fourth member of an impressive group of receivers to sign with the Vols. The local product is a polished route-runner who possesses good speed and great hands. Like the other newcomers, he’ll have a chance to crack the rotation early.
Jabo Lee/RB/5-9/175/Dillon, S.C./3-star
Chose Vols over: East Carolina, Minnesota, Virginia Tech
Outlook: Tennessee missed on a few other top running back targets, but landed Lee on Tuesday, the day before signing day. Some schools backed off the former East Carolina commitment after a knee injury his senior year. However, he has great film from his junior season and will add much-needed depth at running back for the Vols after they lost Davante Bourque and Quenshaun Watson in the last year.
Dylan Wiesman/OL/6-4/315/Cincinnati, Ohio/3-star
Chose Vols over: Cincinnati, Ball State, Ohio State, Boston College
Outlook: Wiesman is another former Cincinnati commitment who followed Jones to Knoxville. He’s a candidate for a redshirt this season, but with four or five starters departing after the 2013 season on the offensive line, he’ll be right in the mix for playing time in 2014.
Austin Sanders/OL/6-5/295/Cleveland, Tenn./3-star
Chose Vols over: Arkansas
Outlook: Sanders in the longest tenured Vol commitment after pledging to Tennessee during his junior year of high school. A lifelong UT fan, there was never any doubt where Sanders was going once he was offered. He could end up playing guard or tackle for Tennessee.
Jaylen Miller/DE/6-2/265/Gaffney, S.C./3-star
Chose Vols over: Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Maryland, N.C. State
Outlook: Miller’s recruitment came all the way down to signing day, but he sent in his LOI to the Vols on Wednesday morning. He could grow into a defensive tackle, but will likely be a defensive end in defensive coordinator John Jancek’s new 4-3 scheme.
Cameron Sutton/DB/6-0/175/Jonesboro, Ga./3-star
Chose Vols over: Auburn, Arkansas, Clemson
Outlook: Auburn went after Sutton hard down the stretch, but ultimately, he stuck with his original commitment to the Vols. He’s another versatile athlete who starred in all three phases in high school. Expect him to end up as a cornerback in Knoxville.
Chose Vols over: Arkansas, Arkansas State
Outlook: Kendrick pledged to the Vols this summer and hasn’t looked back, even with former offensive line coach Sam Pittman, who is now at Arkansas, pursuing him. His 6-6 frame makes him a likely candidate to be groomed for one of the offensive tackle spots that will be opening up in the next couple of years.
Chose Vols over: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Ole Miss
Outlook: Carr flirted with other programs after former coach Derek Dooley’s departure, but reaffirmed his pledge to Tennessee. He’s one of the most important members of Jones’ first signing class. Carr will likely see the field as a freshman and could be a huge part of the defensive line rotation in 2014 and beyond.
Joshua Dobbs highlights
Joshua Dobbs/QB/6-3/190/Alpharetta, Ga/4-star
Chose Vols over: Arizona State, Arkansas, Mississippi State
Outlook: Jones got his first huge victory of signing day when Dobbs flipped his commitment from Arizona State to Tennessee. Dobbs is an aspiring aerospace engineer who is extremely intelligent on and off the field. He also possesses good athleticism and a strong arm. He could be a perfect fit for Jones’ spread offense. The quarterback battle will be interesting in 2013 and beyond.
Woody Quinn/TE/6-6/260/Santa Ana, Calif./3-star
Chose Vols over: Fresno State, San Diego State
Outlook: With the tight end spot up for grabs next year, the Vols looked to the junior college ranks to find Quinn. He’s one of the most unique signees in recent history after starting his collegiate athletic career as a volleyball player. He’s got great size and athleticism, but he’s a little raw on the football field.
Malik Brown/DE/6-3/250/Palm Beach, Fla./3-star
Chose Vols over: Syracuse, South Florida, NC State
Outlook: Brown became the third addition on signing day, joining Miller and Dobbs. The Vols are thin on depth in the defensive front, so they’ll gladly accept Brown’s signature. Though it’s not an elite defensive line class, adding three defensive ends – Carr, Miller and Brown – will help stabilize that position.
. Five-star defensive backVonn Bell chose Ohio State over Tennessee.
. Four-star linebackerTrey Johnsonchose Ohio State over Tennessee.
. Four-star wide receiver Tyler Boyd chose Pittsburgh over Tennessee.
. Three-star defensive end Davin Bellamy chose Georgia over Tennessee.
. Four-star running back Johnathan Ford chose Auburn over Tennessee.
Daniel Lewis covers University of Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga