Tennessee and Texas Tech night, Miami suffers major setback

(Photo: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics)

When Josh Heupel was named Tenneessee’s next head coach two years ago, the hire was met with mixed reviews. Some thought the offensive genius was the perfect person to modernize a UT passing offense, which had become obsolete under the leadership of Jeremy Pruitt. Others questioned whether he was the right leader to take charge of a program that faced serious recruiting violations. After all, Heupel basically got the keys to a Ferrari once Scott Frost left UCF for Nebraska and instead of doing all the little things a sports car owner has to do (you know, like fill up with premium gas at the pump), he let the Knights go from a 12-win team in 2018 to a six-win team in 2020.

And while it’s still probably a little too early to assess Heupel’s hire, he deserves a ton of praise for what he’s accomplished so far in Knoxville. With ESPN’s College GameDay in town — and most of the country watching on CBS — the Volunteers improved to 4-0 on Saturday with a 38-33 win over Florida. Was it a comfortable win? No. But Tennessee fans need to look beyond that because: 1. Wins over rival Gators haven’t really been a regular thing over the past decade and 2. These are the types of games the Volunteers found ways to lose. time and again.

More importantly, everyone who was part of the board inside Neyland Stadium on Saturday needs to realize that this 4-0 start will only allow Heupel and his team to continue recruiting at a high level, what they did. As of Monday morning, Tennessee holds the nation’s No. 9-ranked recruiting class of 2023 according to the 247Sports Composite. Most casuals know who the five-star quarterback is Nico Yamaleava is, but as 247Sports analyst Cooper Petagna and I explained a few weeks ago on our Preps to Pros show, there’s a lot more to love about the bunch once you’ve dipped into the movie. .

What makes the Volunteers fans even more of a winner in Week 4 is the fact that the 2023 commit list should improve at some point in the near future thanks to Saturday’s result and the atmosphere that ensues. The weekend visitor headliner for UT was two official visitors: defensive lineman Top247 Daevin Hobbs and three-star offensive lineman Vysen Lang. Alabama and Georgia were touted by some as co-favorites to land Hobbs, but it looks like his trip to Rocky Top couldn’t have gone better and that should keep Tennessee in the thick of the action. Lang, on the other hand, could be hired with the Volunteers by the first week of November.

Of course, Saturday wasn’t just about the 2023s, as UT took this week’s crown for having the most impressive group of underclassmen on hand. Notable juniors who have taken in the gameday environment include: Samy Brown (N°1 LB in 2024 for 247Sports), ryan wingo (the No. 2 WR), Hevin Brown Shuler (DL n°2), KingJoseph Edwards (No. 4 ATH), Kam Pringle (the #8 OT) and Kaleb Beasley (CB No. 20).


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