By: Jake Hubbard, Junior Staff Writer
Photo | Vol Football on Twitter
Tennessee heads into bowl season with an impressive 10-2 record under second-year head coach Josh Heupel. There was no doubt that Heupel would produce an explosive offense with gaudy numbers. With only two losses, Heupel and the Vols overachieved this season, winning two more games than projected.
On the field, Heupel has proven he can win. But attention has turned off the field and onto recruiting as Early Signing Day rapidly approaches. Can Heupel and company turn the on-field success into wins on the recruiting trail? Can Tennessee win toss-up recruiting battles with Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia? So far, the answer has been yes.
On 247Sports' class rankings, Tennessee is ranked ninth in the country and fourth in the SEC.
Nicholaus Iamaleava, QB- If you haven't heard about Nico, you’ve been living under a rock. This flashy, talented product of California is a program-changing commitment. He has not only been a big-time recruit for the Vols, but he has been a huge recruiter for the Vols. Everyone knows about his playmaking ability and his generational talent, but Nico has already proven to be much more. Nico is a player that others want to be around. He has leadership ability that you cannot teach. He has a big body, a big arm, and a big personality. This will lead to big things on Rocky Top.
Daevin Hobbs, DL- A coveted, big-bodied DL out of Concord, NC. A multi-sport athlete with outsized speed for his size. The 6-4, 277-pound lineman will thrive under Rodney Gardner. Look for Hobbs to make an immediate impact in Knoxville.
Chandavian Bradley, Edge- A freak athlete out of Missouri, Bradley brings in the size and athleticism that can be deadly on any defensive front. Bradley posted a 5-10 high jump in track and field and could boast this talent in what could be an exciting pass defense under Gardner. Bradley also shows interest in the basketball program at Tennessee. Quite honestly, the kid is a stud.
Cameron Seldon, ATH- Virginia’s number one athlete, Seldon has shown that he is a physical playmaker. Whether he steps in at wide receiver or finds himself on the defensive side of the ball remains up in the air, but his physicality and speed would be a great fit in Heupel’s up-tempo offense.
Caleb Herring, Edge- Winning the state is super important, especially in the SEC. For Heupel, this starts with landing Herring, Tennessee’s top-ranked player in the state. Coming to play alongside his older brother, Elijah, Herring brings a lot to the table. Herring, who has plenty of length and speed, will likely play opposite Bradley in the future.
Nathan Leacock, WR- Leacock, continues to soar up the rankings of the 2023 class. His tall frame and track-like speed could prove a mismatch for most cornerbacks. He attacks the ball at the high point and wins 50-50 balls. I see Leacock finding the checkerboard often throughout his career at Tennessee.
Arion Carter, LB- Again, recruiting for the state is crucial. Carter chose to stay home, although he had offers from Ohio State, Alabama, and more. Out of Smyrna, Tennessee, Carter won Tennessee’s 6A Mr. Football award in 2022. He has the speed and toughness that are needed in the SEC. Look for this guy to be a leader on the defensive side of the ball. He is one that I am most excited to watch blossom, as I think his potential is vast.
These are just a few of the players that highlight this class. Tennessee has turned heads on the field and subsequently put together a big time recruiting class for this cycle. The transfer portal will assist in finding depth in several positions and give this class time to develop. The Volunteers' full class is listed below:
Nico Iamaleava, QB
Daevin Hobbs, DL
Caleb Herring, Edge
Chandavian Bradley, Edge
Nathan Leacock, WR
Ethan Davis, TE
Cameron Seldon, ATH
Arion Carter, LB
Jordan Matthews, CB
Shamurad Umarov, OT
Rickey Gibson, CB
Tyree Weathersby, DL
Jalen Smith, LB
Nathan Robinson, DL
Cristian Conyer, CB
Khalifa Keith, RB
John Slaughter, S
Trevor Duncan, OT
Vysen Lang, IOL
Jeremiah Telander, LB
Ayden Bussell, IOL
Jack Lutrell, WR
Nate Spillman, WR
Larry Johnson, OT