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Pruitt not surprised by first returns on Vols’ early enrollees

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More than a month before Tennessee put the finishing touches on its 2019 recruiting class, 10 of the players the Vols signed during the Early Signing Period joined the program as early enrollees.

And it’s so far, so good with the 10 newest Vols.

Head coach Jeremy Pruitt said last week that Tennessee’s early enrollees have hit the ground running in the weeks since heading to campus last month and “have jumped right in” to winter workouts with the rest of their new teammates.

What Pruitt and the Vols noticed about the intangibles of those players during the recruiting process so far have showed up in their short time at Tennessee.

“The guys that are here right now have been working hard in the weight room, which is no surprise to me,” Pruitt said at his National Signing Day press conference. “But that’s kind of the expectation here and I think these guys have jumped right in. And instead of guys having to bring them along, they’ve jumped in and been equal to.”

The 10 early enrollees, plus transfers Aubrey Solomon and Deangelo Gibbs, will go through spring practice when it starts on March 7, while the rest of the class will join them on campus toward the end of May ahead of the start of summer classes.

The newcomers on offense are quarterback Brian Maurer, running back Eric Gray, wide receiver Ramel Keyton, tight end Jackson Lowe and offensive linemen Wanya Morris and Chris Akporoghene, while the early enrollees on defense are outside linebacker Quavaris Crouch and defensive backs Jaylen McCollough, Tyus Fields and Warren Burrell.

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Tennessee’s 23-player class finished 12th in the 247Sports team recruiting rankings, though the Vols were 0.01 points behind Auburn and less than four points behind national champion Clemson.

Pruitt acknowledged there are no guarantees in recruiting and sometimes players don’t pan out like he and his coaches hope, but the second-year head coach believes strongly Tennessee has added a quality group of players in this class.

“The big thing in recruiting, you do the best you can to find out the information,” Pruitt said. “You’ve got to trust your evals. It helps if you can see them in person. It helps if you can get them in camp. Knowing the information, it’s hard to predict how a 17- or 18-year-old’s going to be when he’s 21 or 22. You do the best that you can doing that. What looks good today might not be so good in a couple of years and maybe what don’t look as good today might be the best thing in a couple of years. That’s everywhere across the country. We’ll see.

“I think our staff done a good job in evaluating these guys.”




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