Alontae Taylor becomes first UT commitment of Jeremy Pruitt era

Alontae Taylor becomes first UT commitment of Jeremy Pruitt era

December 14th, 2017 by David Paschall in Sports - College
Coffee County's Alontae Taylor runs the football for the East team during Friday's all-star game at Austin Peay.

Coffee County's Alontae Taylor runs the football for...

Photo by Casey Gower / For the Leaf Chronicle

Tennessee picked up its first football commitment of the Jeremy Pruitt era Wednesday, receiving a nonbinding pledge from four-star receiver Alontae Taylor of Coffee County Central in Manchester.

The Volunteers, however, lost both of their quarterback commitments a week before the new early signing period.

This is the second commitment to Tennessee for Taylor, who opened up his recruitment Nov. 12, the same day former Vols coach Butch Jones was fired hours after a 50-17 loss at Missouri. Taylor received a scholarship offer from Alabama several days before decommitting, and he visited Georgia on Nov. 18, when the Bulldogs whipped Kentucky.

Taylor is the No. 118 prospect nationally and the No. 23 receiver, according to the 247Sports.com composite player rankings. In 41 career games at Coffee County, he amassed a staggering 75 touchdowns.

The 6-foot, 184-pounder announced his commitment via Twitter, posting "1000% COMMITTED," after listing Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Tennessee's first quarterback departure Wednesday was Michael Penix of Tampa, a three-star recruit who is the No. 20 pro-style quarterback, according to 247Sports.com. The 6-2, 182-pound Penix recently received a scholarship offer from Florida State and announced via social media that Tennessee's change in coaching staffs resulted in his decision.

"I would like to thank the previous coaches at the University of Tennessee and the fans for believing in me," Penix posted on Twitter, "but after conversations with the new staff, it seems that's not the place that I'm being wanted."

Adrian Martinez, the four-star quarterback prospect from Fresno, Calif., announced Wednesday evening that he had flipped his commitment to Nebraska and new coach Scott Frost. The 6-2, 205-pound Martinez is rated the No. 8 dual-threat quarterback nationally and had been committed to the Vols since May, taking visits to Knoxville in June and in September.

"Thankful for this incredible journey.#FrostEra," Martinez posted on Twitter.

Tennessee once had a top-five class in the 247Sports.com team rankings for the 2018 recruiting cycle but had slipped to 46th as of Wednesday night. The Vols rank 12th among Southeastern Conference schools, ahead of only Arkansas and Ole Miss.

Vols add Thomas

Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday that Tennessee is adding Austin Thomas, who's served as LSU's general manager since coach Ed Orgeron was given the full-time job with the Tigers in November 2016. Thomas, the first GM in SEC history according to his LSU bio, is expected to serve in a similar role in Knoxville.

Thomas is a 2008 graduate of Lipscomb and received his master's in sports management at Tennessee, where he served as a recruiting intern during the 2008 season and as a defensive assistant under former UT coach Lane Kiffin and former UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin during the 2009 season. He followed the Kiffins to Southern California, where he served as a defensive assistant and a recruiting assistant during the 2011 season before moving into an operations role for the 2012 season.

According to his LSU bio, Thomas, "leads the way in the oversight and management of the entire LSU football program. One of the top personnel managers in all of college football, Thomas works closely with NFL personnel to maximize the opportunity for LSU student-athletes at the next level."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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