I don't have any inside information on where Josh Malone plans to attend college. I really don't. Not holding out on you here. However, looking at two developments that have occurred recently that I believe is connected to the Josh Malone recruitment, and this one is getting really interesting.
First, last week it became public Malone had signed a financial aid agreement (FAA) with the University of Tennessee. The FAA is currently en vogue now by schools and families with of prospects eligible to be mid-term enrollees. Signing a FAA secures a scholarship for the prospect with the school but it doesn't bind the prospect to actually enroll with the school for which said prospect signed the FAA. Prospects can sign FAAs with more than one school if they choose to based upon my understanding of the rule.
The benefit for the school is once a prospect signs a FAA the school is no longer bound by the NCAA regulations related to contact of prospective student-athletes (ie, allows virtually unlimited contact between prospect and school).
It too was reported the Malone family did not want the fact they wanted to sign FAAs with "finalists" for Malone's services made public. Finalists for Malone "appear" to be Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida State.
This is where it gets a bit cloudy. Tennessee is the only school so far Malone has signed the FAA. Word that Malone had signed a FAA with Tennessee allegedly came from sources around the Florida State program. Multiple sources have suggested the information came from Tallahassee though I have no direct knowledge of where the leak came from. hmmmmmmmmmmm....
Did Florida State actually leak the information to the media? If so, I can't imagine violating the families' wishes to keep this information private helps their positioning in the Malone sweepstakes. Or, was the information "leaked" because Florida State feels like they either out of the Malone sweepstakes or clearly swimming upstream against Tennessee and Georgia? I dunno.
Speaking of Georgia. Here is the other part of this story. I have paid a lot of attention to the Malone recruitment. This includes reporting from other schools on Malone's contact with coaches and his visits to said schools. With Georgia, my understanding is Georgia has two wide receivers committed to their 2014 class. Georgia recruiting analysts have been consistent since September that Georgia, because of limited numbers in their 2014 recruiting class, would only pursue another wide receiver if Malone chooses another school. Until Saturday, the only wide receiver prospect left on their board was Josh Malone......
On Saturday, Georgia offered a scholarship to North Gwinnett wide receiver Nate Brown. Brown, a Missouri commitment, is a big receiver (similar in size to Malone but nowhere near the prospect).
This kind of stuff is why conspiracy theorists like me love the game within the game of recruiting. I guess we'll know for sure in early December whether the above events are connected in any way or not.
Something to think about on your Monday.
'Not saying we told you so BUT .....Is there any doubt Butch Jones is far from finished putting his first full recruiting class together? Within hours of a disappointing performance against Auburn, news popped that defensive lineman Dimarya Mixon had publicly committed to Tennessee. Mixon's commitment brought Tennessee to 30 public commitments.... more than any other FBS school.
We spoke of Mixon here last week. Originally signed out of high school by Nebraska. When he failed to qualify academically, Nebraska released Mixon from his scholarship. Mixon has spent the last year getting his academics straight. Tennessee has been recruiting him longer than any other school. With his academics in order, and having a comfort level with the staff..... batta-bing-batta-boom Mixon is a Vol who will enroll come January. Mixon, who stands 6'4" 260 lbs., was being courted by Oklahoma, Boise State, and Auburn. Though I'm not as sold on Mixon as others, he is a solid pick-up.
Keeping with the theme of not slowing down, don't be surprised if one if not two prospects announce their commitments for Tennessee this week.
Cory Thomas is a really nice looking prospect. Thomas stands every bit of 6'6" topping the scales at 275 plus pounds. Thomas is a raw but extraordinarily athletic prospect. Thomas is rated as one of the top 15 prospects in Alabama. Tennessee beat Clemson and Mississippi State for Thomas in the end. Auburn and Alabama are interested in Thomas but this appears to be a situation where a kid that wants to leave the state to play his college football. Tennessee will have to recruit Thomas until he signs his papers in February so this one is far from over.
Look for Brighton, Tennessee, offensive/defensive lineman Charles Mosley to make his college decision public later this week. Link
Mosley stands 6'5" and weighs in at 350 -ish pounds. Right now, Mosley appears to be favoring Tennessee over Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, and Mississippi State. It will be interesting to see what side of the ball Mosley ends up on in college. Some analysts project Mosley as an interior offensive lineman while others project him as a defensive tackle. Mosley would be a big pickup for Tennessee both literally and figuratively. Mosley is a top ten prospect in the state and landing him helps solidify Butch Jones' theme of building a fence around the state. Too, Mosely is a west Tennessee kid. Tennessee needs to be able to go into west Tennessee and pick up a prospect like Mosely especially at a position of need.
If the above comes to fruition, Tennessee could be sitting at 32 commitments by mid-November..... Unbelievable
The reason I continue to say Butch Jones is not slowing down is this recruiting class STILL needs another healthy running back to go with Jalen Hurd and Treyvon Paulk, a play making wide receiver, and at least two more elite talents on defense regardless of position.
No, Tennessee won't oversign. 30 signees is the maximum Tennessee will take. By oversigning, Tennessee would be thumbing its nose at the SEC League Office and the NCAA. No other school has oversigned so there are no precedents established for penalties for a school that oversigns. Tennessee just doesnít need the sideshow associated with oversigning. I could see Tennessee signing 30 and offering one maybe two kids an opportunity to greyshirt.
I refuse to name any names here but any one of you can look at the commitment list and come up with 5 to 6 committed prospects that, whether its academics or some other factor , will not be Volunteers on National Signing Day. As I have continued to say, in the end, the numbers will work themselves out.
Are you happy with the 2014 recruiting class? Would you be satisfied with this signing class if Tennessee held on to every prospect committed and landed one more between now and National Signing Day?
Butch Jones has 29 public commitments for the 2014 recruiting class. He can max out at 30. As of this writing, Rivals has the class ranked as the second best in the country behind Alabama
Bless you if you believe every one of the 29 commitments winds up a Volunteer on National Signing Day. I donít mean that in a disrespectful manner. In reality, there is too much at stake to believe Tennessee isnít going to part ways with a commitment or two or more. The way Butch Jones has these commitments rolling in Tennessee could be sitting at 30 commitments before you finish reading this.
Under no scenario can I see Tennessee devoting 2 full months to 2015 recruiting without trying to improve the composition of its 2014 class.
Also, I don't think it is a coincidence that Tennessee has landed three more bricks on the heels of two straight bad losses on the road.
Butch will need to get momentum ramped up for the program during the dog days of recruiting leading up to National Signing Day.
In 2013, Recruiting is a two way street. You think our rivals have quit recruiting most of the 29 prospects committed to Tennessee? Look at the commitment list. You can't scroll down UT's commitment list and not come up with 5 or 6 prospects Tennessee will have to fight like heck to keep until National Signing Day or guys who are rumored to have grade issues.
Butch Jones can't be left holding an empty scholarship on January 30.
I am certain Butch Jones is a man of integrity. I am also certain Butch Jones knows he has 30 scholarships to give and it is his job to bring in the best 30 prospects he can.
You have seen the body of work on the field through 9 contests. Even with 29 commitments in the boat, you think Tennessee has met its needs? My opinion is Tennessee would still take an elite level playmaker at most every position even at the expense of cutting ties with a current commitment or two.
Further, I am of the opinion there are as many as 3 to 4 prospects on the recruiting board that would start next September against Utah State if Tennessee landed any one of them.
Below are a few of the reasons why I believe Tennessee is far from finished with its 2014 recruiting.
Running Back -
Tennessee has two high school running backs committed. Both knocked out of high school competition during their senior seasons with injury. I know Jalen Hurdís injury is not considered significant but Treyvon Paulkís (knee) is. With the running back situation the way it is, you really need two healthy running backs in this class. If Paulk can give you some carries next season great but you donít need to rush him back from the knee injury. As far as running back targets go, Tennessee is actively recruiting Ole Miss commitment JUCO Akeem Judd
but Judd flipping to Tennessee would surprise me, high school running back Derrel Scott from North Carolina, Jarvis Stewart from Florida (USF commit)
, Darrel Williams from Louisiana (Arizona State commit)
. These are just a few of the names on the recruiting board. I donít think Tennessee is finished by any stretch at running back.
Wide Receiver - Tennessee is all in for Josh Malone.
I canít say anything here about Josh Malone that has been said before. Malone is a difference making prospect. Opportunity to play from Day One. Likely a Tennessee Ė Georgia battle. Weíll know where he is going in a month. Malone is a January enrollee. If Tennessee loses out on the Malone sweepstakes, I can still see them bringing in another wide receiver in the class.
Offensive Linemen -
JUCO Offensive Lineman Avery Gennessy visited for the South Carolina game and has Tennessee in his top two schools.
Florida offensive lineman David Sharpe is visiting this weekend.
The recruiting services are all over the board on their evaluations of Sharpe anywhere between a 3-star prospect to a 5-star prospect. Gennessy is a day one starter in 2014 if he signs
. I donít believe Sharpe is quite that high in the pecking order plus he is just beginning to take visits. My guess is there is no room at the inn by the time he makes his decision.
Defensive Linemen -
This is where it gets problematic. It isnít a secret that Tennessee wants two more JUCO defensive lineman (preferably tackles) in this class.
If you expect Tennessee to be more competitive with the upper echelon of teams in the SEC next season you should hope Tennessee is able sign two and not have to put young guys in the trenches before they are ready. I give you this. Tennessee has a quite a group of JUCO defensive lineman to choose from. JUCOs Jarran Reed and DJ Pettway have already visited; JUCOs Owen Williams, Abu Lamin; and Dimaryva Mixon are all visiting this weekend;
JUCO Calvin Heuterol is tentatively scheduled to visit for the Vanderbilt weekend.
Tennessee continues to recruit a couple of high school defensive line prospects very. In fact, Tennessee currently leads for defensive tackle Charles Mosely.
Reed and Lamin are likely starters at whatever school they choose to attend. Mixon and Williams are intriguing. Can Tennessee really take three more defensive linemen in this class?
Tennessee has a stable of very good linebackers committed. However, it is easy to see a shakeup at this position between now and February. Tennessee will have to fight and claw all the way to National Signing Day to hold onto a couple of the linebacker prospects committed.
For that reason, Tennessee is actively recruiting a handful of linebackers. One is Illinois linebacker Clifton Garrett. A five-star linebacker who has narrowed his choices to LSU and Tennessee.
Also, keep an eye on Florida linebacker Jakob Johnson.
This prospect is raw and a bit under the radar. I would expect Johnson to visit campus over the next two to three weeks.
Defensive Back -
The one position I thought Tennessee might be finished was in the defensive backfield. However, 5 star defensive back Adoree Jackson is visiting this weekend. While the chances of Jackson picking Tennessee are a long shot, Jackson is a prospect you have to make room for.
Much like Malone and a couple of other prospects mentioned above, Jackson is Game 1 starter for you in 2014.
Might as well throw this out there. What if..... there is attrition at the quarterback spot between now and the start of Spring semester? I don't know anything but it could happen. You see what injuries have done to the position through 9 games. You are a snap from playing either a walk-on, a true freshman, or a redshirt freshman whose confidence has to be in question. Tennessee loves Jalen McClendon from North Carolina. McClendon is a big kid who is raw. He is also firmly committed to NC State.
Glad these decisions aren't mine to bear. With the number of really good prospects Tennessee is pursuing I don't think 2014 recruiting is anywhere close to being finished.
Recruiting is a "what have you done for me lately" kind of phenomenon. Tennessee has put together an excellent class. Butch Jones and staff should be commended.
Ultimately this class will be judged on how Jones and staff close. "Closing" in the context of recruiting does not simply mean holding on to what you have. Closing means culling the herd and landing 3 to 5 prospects mentioned above that have the potential to start for you next September
Regardless of whether you are a fan of recruiting over prospects, Butch Jones needs to continue to promote the Tennessee brand.
What better way to do so is a strong close to the recruiting class.