Tennessee’s 2013 class received a much needed boost Wednesday night when Marquez North announced his commitment to Tennessee.
North is one of the nation’s top-rated wide receivers from Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C. He also plays a position of great need at Tennessee because of the departures of Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Zach Rogers.
North’s commitment to Tennessee gave the Vols a quick boost in the national rankings.
Tennessee improved from below No. 40 to the 32nd-ranked class in the nation (as of Thursday afternoon), per Rivals.com. Below is Tennessee’s current standing in both the nation and the SEC according to the nation’s top four recruiting services.
ESPN – 29/11
Rivals – 32/11
Scout – 43/11
247Sports – 25/10
As you can see, Tennessee, which has 17 commitments and can sign up to 27 prospects in the 2013 class, still has its work cut out to keep up with the rest of the SEC. The good news for the Vols is they remain in the running for several highly-touted prospects.
Here’s a look at some of the top players remaining on Tennessee’s board with less than a week to go until signing day.
DB Vonn Bell – Ridgeland High School in Rossville, Ga.
Bell looked like an Alabama lean for several weeks, but the Vols might have taken the lead following his official visit to Tennessee last weekend. The Chattanooga native has grown up a fan of the Vols, and Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff have worked tirelessly to convince Bell he’s badly needed in Knoxville. Ohio State has also made a strong push for Bell, who will announce his decision on signing day.
DE Carl Lawson – Milton High School in Alpharetta, Ga.
It looks like a three-team race between Tennessee, Auburn and Clemson. Lawson, who’s committed to Auburn, is expected to visit The Plains this weekend. Does that give the Tigers the edge? Ask several different analysts and you’ll hear several different opinions. The truth is Lawson might not know yet where he will sign.
DE Davin Bellamy – Chamblee (Ga.) High School
Bellamy decommitted from Florida State earlier this week and named Georgia his leader, which should make the Bulldogs the team to beat. But Tennessee has impressed Bellamy, who has shown a strong interest in the Vols since attending UT’s spring game last April.
DE Jaylen Miller – Gaffney (S.C.) High School
Miller represents Tennessee’s best chance to add another defensive lineman to the 2013 class. He said this week he doesn’t plan to announce his choice until Wednesday, but this looks like a poorly kept secret. Perhaps Georgia Tech, Maryland or Wake Forest could pull a stunner, but the fact Miller has visited Knoxville the last two weekends should make his plan a dead giveaway.
RB Johnathan Ford – New Hope (Ala.) High School
He plays a serious position of need for Tennessee, which has already seen 2012 running back signees Davante Bourque and Quenshaun Watson leave campus. Ford, who decommitted from Vanderbilt this week, has shown strong interest in Auburn. Georgia and Florida State tried to enter the picture with scholarship offers last weekend.
LB E.J. Levenberry – C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Va.
Levenberry has been committed to Florida State since April but has always shown an interest in Tennessee. He’s scheduled to visit Knoxville this weekend, which indicates his interest remains genuine. The Vols will surely make a push for Levenberry to switch his commitment during his trip.
QB Josh Dobbs – Alpharetta (Ga.) High School
Tennessee’s coaching staff would like to add another quarterback to this class to go along with Riley Ferguson from Matthews, N.C. Dobbs, who’s committed to Arizona State, seems like a good fit. But he knows there’s playing time available at Arizona State, while Tennessee appears to have a full depth chart with Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman already on campus.
Chongo Kondolo - Fresno (Calif.) Community College
Kondolo isn't necessarily highly-touted (unless we're putting together an all-name team), but he is very much needed in this class. Tennessee has three offensive linemen committed, which really isn't enough considering the Vols didn't sign a single offensive lineman last year. Kondolo, who's also considering Nebraska, could be a starter in 2014 if he chooses to sign with Tennessee.
Want to hear more recruiting talk on the radio? Check out Football Futures - presented by Tropical Smoothie Cafe - on Saturday morning from 10-11 eastern time. As always, don't hesitate to send me a question or comment on twitter: @Josh_Ward.