Vols add kicker, tackle during recruiting cycle dominated by Alabama

USC Athletics photo / Chase McGrath, who kicked for Southern California from 2017 to 2019, has transferred to Tennessee.

It's unknown whether Tennessee's football program has bottomed out from a personnel standpoint following the termination of Jeremy Pruitt or if lower levels can be reached, but the Volunteers were happy to announce some additions Wednesday.

Joining a program that has admitted to NCAA Level I and Level II violations under Pruitt's watch are Chase McGrath, a transfer kicker from the University of Southern California, and Jeremiah Crawford, an offensive tackle from Butler County (Kansas) Community College. Tennessee currently has 11 early enrollees in this 2021 recruiting cycle, 10 signees who did not enroll early and three transfer players, but the situation is quite fluid.

Two of the signees who didn't enroll early, outside linebacker Dylan Brooks and running back Cody Brown, have expressed a desire to be released from their scholarships, and the future of former Auburn defensive end Big Kat Bryant in Knoxville is also uncertain.

Tennessee's class with the additions of McGrath and Crawford was ranked 16th nationally by 247Sports.com as of Wednesday evening. Alabama had the nation's top crop, with Nick Saban's Crimson Tide followed by Ohio State, Georgia, LSU and Clemson.

"Thank you, USC. Blessed to be a Volunteer," McGrath, a 6-foot, 190-pounder from Newport Beach, California, posted on Twitter to announce his arrival into the Southeastern Conference.

McGrath began his USC career as a walk-on but earned a scholarship after the 2017 season, when he made 12 of 17 field-goal attempts. After his 2018 season was cut short by injury, McGrath returned in 2019 to connect on 14 of 17 field-goal tries, but he was affected by knee and hip tendinitis this past season and never attempted a kick.

In his career with the Trojans, McGrath made 32 of 42 field-goal attempts and 118 of 119 extra-point tries.

McGrath is expected compete with Toby Wilson, a sophomore walk-on this past season who kicked in Tennessee's final two games against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M after Brent Cimaglia opted out. Cimaglia made 46 of 62 field-goal attempts in his four seasons with the Vols, including a 23-of-27 showing in 2019, but he entered the NCAA transfer portal last week.

Former Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker could be Tennessee's only other existing transfer addition, depending on Bryant's status.

The 6-6, 315-pound Crawford is from Goddard, Kansas, and also had scholarship offers from Baylor, Maryland, Ole Miss and Central Florida, the former stop of current Vols coach Josh Heupel. Crawford is rated by 247Sports as the No. 40 junior-college recruit and the No. 3 offensive tackle, and he plans to play for Butler County this spring.

"I'd like to thank the coaching staff at Tennessee for giving me this opportunity," Crawford posted on Twitter. "It is one they won't regret."

photo AP photo by Sean Rayford / South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp greets fans before his team's home game against UTC on Nov. 17, 2018.

Muschamp to UGA

Former Florida and South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has returned to Georgia, his alma mater, as an analyst.

"As of last week, we were able to get things completed with Will," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Wednesday afternoon. "He's already made a lot of strides in terms of helping me and helping our staff. He'll be able to help coach the coaches, and he'll be working on the defensive side of the ball.

"It's very, very valuable to have a guy who's been head coach at two places in our conference. He knows the ins and outs of this conference and will be able to help our staff in a lot of ways, and I'm excited to have him join us."

Muschamp compiled a 28-21 record at Florida from 2011-14 and was 22-17 through his first three seasons at South Carolina in 2016-18. His last two seasons with the Gamecocks, however, yielded a 6-13 mark, and he was fired this past November.

Jackson Muschamp, Will's older son, was a freshman walk-on quarterback this past season for the Bulldogs.

"I know he's not through with his coaching days, and it's important for him to go out there and develop relationships," Smart said. "I know he feels like he has moved his family all over the country, and this is an opportunity for him to get back with them and be able to watch his son play."

Muschamp, who received a lump sum salary of $12.9 million from South Carolina in late December, will earn $300,000 for his Georgia role.

Alabama class tops

Alabama already had the nation's top signing class entering Wednesday and added a pair of top-50 prospects: running back Camar Wheaton of Garland, Texas, and safety Terrion Arnold of Tallahassee, Florida. Arnold committed and signed Wednesday afternoon.

The Crimson Tide's collection of 27 signees that includes 15 top-100 players has been rated by 247Sports as the greatest signing class ever.

"We recruit as a team here," Saban said. "Everybody did what they would do on a normal visit, but they did it virtually. That adaptation really helped us develop relationships with players so that we could have the kind of recruiting class that we had."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.