Tennessee's 2014 signing class

Tennessee's 2014 signing class

February 6th, 2014 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College


• Quarterbacks: 0

• Running backs: 3

• Receivers, tight ends: 6

• Offensive line: 3

• Defensive line: 8

• Linebackers: 5

• Defensive backs: 6

• Kickers: 1


A few of the biggest names and highest-rated recruits in Tennessee's class are already going through the offseason program on campus. Both of the five-star prospects -- tailback Jalen Hurd and receiver Josh Malone -- have started their careers. Multiple players expected to contribute immediately next season -- such as offensive tackle Dontavius Blair, defensive lineman Owen Williams, receiver Von Pearson and the tight end tandem of Daniel Helm and Ethan Wolf -- have been with the Vols for a month. Safety Todd Kelly and linebacker Dillon Bates are the sons of former Tennessee greats and are rated among the nation's top 100 players, and Tennessee fans have wondered about the Berry twins since older brother Eric became a superstar in Knoxville in 2007.


Take your pick. Given the quality and quantity of the recruits the Vols are adding, Butch Jones and his staff essentially are overhauling Tennessee's roster. After a speed and talent deficiency became overwhelmingly apparent last season, Tennessee focused on upgrading the defense. The Vols boast a solid group of defensive ends with Derek Barnett, Dewayne Hendrix and Joe Henderson. And this crop of linebackers, with Bates, juco transfer Chris Weatherd and Gavin Bryant, is also a good group. Finding speed in the secondary was the focus for the Vols, and Kelly, D'Andre Payne, Emmanuel Moseley, Cortez McDowell, Rashaan Gaulden and Evan Berry fit that bill. Tennessee already feels it's upgraded at the skill positions with the players already on campus.


Junior college defensive end DaVonte Lambert, who flipped from the Vols to Auburn in December and signed with the Tigers on Wednesday, was the most notable defection from Tennessee's class, though longtime Vols commitment Cory Thomas flipped from Tennessee and signed with Mississippi State on Wednesday after leaning toward Clemson on Monday. Lambert likely would have helped immediately, while Thomas was a prospect with nice upside. Tennessee was in the mix for five-star California cornerback Adoree' Jackson deep into January, but the Vols didn't make Jackson's final cut, and he signed with Southern California on Wednesday. Jerome Dews, a three-star Maryland linebacker who committed to the Vols in June after a strong camp performance, posted Tuesday on Twitter that he would attend prep school in Atlanta and planned to head to Tennessee next January. Atlanta-area offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr., the son of the late veteran NFL offensive tackle with Cleveland and Baltimore, signed with Oklahoma after academic concerns prohibited him from signing with the Vols.


Tennessee added nearly half of the 2014 class last month, as 14 recruits enrolled in classes and joined the Vols' offseason workout program, and that group also will go through spring practice, which begins March 7.

No. - Pos. - Player

74 - OT - Dontavius Blair

82 - WR - Neiko Creamer

80 - TE - Daniel Helm

1 - HB - Jalen Hurd

44 - LB - Jakob Johnson

3 - WR - Josh Malone

40 - DL - Dimarya Mixon

29 - CB - Emmanuel Moseley

2 - CB - D'Andre Payne

9 - WR - Von Pearson

64 - OL - Ray Raulerson

55 - OL - Coleman Thomas

58 - DL - Owen Williams

88 - TE - Ethan Wolf


K Aaron Medley

Lewisburg, Tenn. (Marshall County)

6-2, 170

Rivals: 3 stars

The third-ranked kicker in the country according to Rivals.com, he had offers from Oklahoma and Texas A&M and should have the chance to come in and immediately help the Vols as a successor to Michael Palardy, who handled all three kicking duties in 2013. Medley has a strong leg, but missed two medium-range field goals in the Under Armour All-American Game last month.

RB Treyvon Paulk

Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton)

5-9, 195

Rivals: 3 stars

Paulk had averaged more than 150 rushing yards per game and had eight touchdowns in three games of his senior season for a strong Atlanta-area program when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in September. The strong between-the-tackles runner rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and scored 17 TDs as a junior. His offers included Ole Miss, Wisconsin, Mississippi State, Louisville and West Virginia.

RB Derrell Scott

Havelock, N.C. (Havelock)

5-10, 180

Rivals: 4 stars

With the two other tailbacks in the class coming off season-ending injuries, the Vols needed to add a third back, and running backs coach Robert Gillespie helped Tennessee edge South Carolina, Florida and North Carolina State for the dynamic Scott. The speedy, versatile big-play threat had touchdowns of 20, 51 and 96 yards in Havelock's 2013 state-final victory.

WR Vic Wharton III

Nashville (Independence)

6-0, 188

Rivals: 4 stars

The speedy Wharton was the first commitment of the class. He also is a sprinter for Independence's track team coached by his father, and likely will start his Tennessee career as a slot receiver. He could get a shot in the return game as well. Although diminutive, Wharton demonstrated his versatiliy by scoring touchdowns five different ways during his senior season.


DE Derek Barnett

Nashville (Brentwood Academy)

6-4, 265

Rivals: 4 stars

One of the state's five highest-rated prospects, Barnett won his second consecutive Mr. Football award after his senior season. He picked the Vols over Vanderbilt in October, but his offer list included LSU, Florida State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Barnett is talented and versatile enough to play off the edge at defensive end or slide inside to tackle.

LB Dillon Bates

Ponte Vedra, Fla. (Ponte Vedra)

6-3, 220

Rivals: 4 stars

The No. 41 overall player in the country according to Rivals, Bates is the son of former Vols and Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates. He picked Tennessee over Alabama and Florida in July while at "The Opening," a high-profile recruiting showcase in Oregon. Likely an outside linebacker, Bates showed good instincts in the Under Armour All-American Game last month.

ATH Elliott Berry

Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside)

5-11, 191

Rivals: 3 stars

One half of the twin younger brothers of former Tennessee star and NFL All-Pro safety Eric Berry, Elliott projects as a safety or an outside linebacker in college. Neither of the twins carries the same recruiting billing as Eric, who was a five-star prospect and one of the nation's top players, but both are essential to Tennessee's class.

CB Evan Berry

Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside)

5-11, 195

Rivals: 4 stars

Evan is the higher-rated of the two Berry twins, and he'll likely start his Tennessee career in the secondary. His speed -- he won Class AAAAA state titles in the 100- (10.95) and 200-meter (21.90) dashes last year -- should be a welcome sight to the Vols' secondary. Evan and Elliott also played important roles on both offense and defense for Creekside's state-title team.

LB Gavin Bryant

Jackson, Ala. (Jackson)

6-2, 230

Rivals: 3 stars

Tennessee is hoping it snagged a good one out of Alabama's and Auburn's back yard with Bryant, a four-star prospect according to 247Sports. He helped Jackson win the Class 4A state title in 2011 and racked up more than 110 tackles in each of the past two seasons. Bryant is a physical, instinctive inside linebacker with a nice blend of size, speed and strength.

S Rashaan Gaulden

Nashville (Independence)

6-1, 178

Rivals: 4 stars

Sitting out his junior season after transferring from Brentwood Academy, the 247Sports four-star prospect piled up a gaudy total of 193 tackles as a senior. Gaulden, whose offer list included South Carolina, Ole Miss and Nebraska, could play anywhere in the secondary. He has the instincts to play safety and the speed -- he was an All-American in track and field -- to play corner back or nickel back.

DE Joe Henderson

Cleveland, Ohio (Shaker Heights)

6-3, 230

Rivals: 4 stars

Henderson was scheduled to enroll in January, but he was unable to get cleared in time, so jumbo athlete Neiko Creamer took his spot. He piled up 14.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss during his senior season. Part of a solid crop of defensive ends in this signing class, Henderson has the quickness and explosiveness off the edge that's been sorely lacking for the Vols.

DE Dewayne Hendrix

O'Fallon, Ill. (O'Fallon)

6-5, 254

Rivals: 4 stars

One of the top-ranked defensive end prospects in the country, Hendrix was a big addition at a position of need when he picked the Vols over Missouri, Florida, Southern Cal and others in October. He's got an ideal frame for a strong-side end and an impressive blend of athletic ability and explosiveness. The Vols held off a late charge by Missouri to hold on to Hendrix, who had 65 tackles, nine for loss and eight sacks this past season.

S Todd Kelly Jr.

Knoxville (Webb School)

6-1, 190

Rivals: 4 stars

Better known as "TK," Kelly is the son of a former Tennessee defensive end. He once was leaning toward going to Alabama, where his sister is a cheerleader. The two-time Mr. Football winner played at a small school, but he's a big-time talent. Eight SEC programs, Florida State, Ohio State and Clemson were among the schools offering Rivals' No. 66 overall player.

S Cortez McDowell

Locust Grove, Ga. (Locust Grove)

6-2, 200

Rivals: 4 stars

One of the nation's top safety prospects -- he's ranked 10th at the position by 247Sports -- McDowell picked Tennessee over Auburn and Georgia in July. Also a standout baseball player who could play both sports for the Vols, McDowell is a physical player with a good frame. A move to linebacker -- or at least a role near the line of scrimmage -- is a possibility.

DT Charles Mosley

Brighton, Tenn. (Brighton)

6-5, 350

Rivals: 3 stars

"Big Charles" had "UT Vols" and an orange and white checkerboard pattern buzzed and colored on each side of his mohawk when he announced his pick in December. Tennessee recruited Moseley, whose other finalist was Alabama, as a defensive tackle. He also could play offensive guard. A 247Sports four-star recruit, Mosley may need a year or two to develop, but the potential is there.

DT Jashon Robertson

Nashville (Montgomery Bell Academy)

6-3, 295

Rivals: 3 stars

Robertson committed to Vanderbilt during the summer before his junior season in 2012, but the two-way lineman reopened his recruitment when VU coach James Franklin left for Penn State in January. His friendship with Jalen Hurd helped convince him to pick the Vols a few days later. Robertson is a state-champion wrestler and, like Mosely, could play either offensive guard or defensive tackle.

DT Michael Sawyers

Nashville (Ensworth)

6-2, 300

Rivals: 4 stars

The Vols again poached the Vanderbilt class that fell apart in the wake of Franklin's departure. In this case, Tennessee edged Ole Miss, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in the end for Sawyers, a disruptive defensive tackle out of one of the state's top football programs. The Vols wanted Sawyers when he picked the Commodores in July -- they just had to wait to get him.

LB Chris Weatherd

Athens, Texas (Trinity Valley CC)

6-4, 220

Rivals: 4 stars

After pledging to Tennessee over Oklahoma last May, Weatherd drew interest from Texas A&M and Auburn, but the Vols held them off. The reward is a juco outside linebacker who also played defensive end for Trinity Valley. "It'd be awesome for me," he told the Times Free Press in November, "to go in there and contribute right away and make a big impact."