Pruitt happy with Vols Day 1 haul in the early signing period

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee football program signed 17 players during Day 1 of the 2019 Early Signing Period on Wednesday.

The Early Signing Period continues on Thursday and Friday and the later National Signing Day will be on Feb 6.

“I know today’s an exciting day for lots of guys across the country,” head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “I know for everybody associated with the University of Tennessee, we’re excited about the 17 men that signed with us today.”

All 17 signees in Tennessee’s class have at least a three-star designation with 11 earning four or more stars from one of the major scouting services.

“When you’re looking for guys to help build your program, to me the first thing you’re looking for is good people,” Pruitt said. “The guys that we signed, they have character, they have competitive toughness, they’re winners. Most of them were captains of their football team. They’re used to playing in December which I think is important.”

Thirteen members of the Vols’ class were on teams that advanced to state playoff games and Tennessee’s two JUCO defensive line signees were each part of undefeated seasons. Darel Middleton helped East Mississippi Community College to a perfect record and the NJCAA National Championship, while Savion Williams was part of a Lackawanna College squad that finished with an 11-0 record.

Additionally, the class features two Under Armour All-Americans in defensive back Jaylen McCollough and offensive lineman Wayna Morris, and an All-American Bowl participant in wide receiver Ramel Keyton.

Jerrod Means joined Keyton in the receiver corps on Thursday, while the Vols signed a pair of tight ends from the state of Georgia with Jackson Lowe and Sean Brown both headed to Rocky Top.

A pair of recent state champions in the Peach State also inked with Tennessee as Aaron Beasley (Class 2A), who Pruitt expects to begin his career at defensive back, and linebacker Roman Harrison (Class 5A) both led their high schools to titles inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium last week.

Overall, the student-athletes hail from five states (Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Maryland and North Carolina), with Nigeria also represented by IMG Academy offensive lineman Chris Akporoghene.

The lone signee from Florida was quarterback Brian Maurer, who passed for over 3,500 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior.

Defensive back Tyus Fields signed with the Vols out of Cornelius, N.C., following a prep career where he totaled 182 tackles.

Warren Burrell, who led North Gwinnett to a state championship in 2017, rounded out the defensive back signees on Thursday.

Wrapping up the in-state signees were offensive linemen Jackson Lampley and Melvin McBride and defensive lineman Elijah Simmons, who Pruitt said could dunk a basketball despite being nearly 350 pounds.

The states of Georgia (nine) and Tennessee (five) account for 14 of the Vols’ 17 signees with two more days of the Early Signing Period remaining this week.

Tennessee Football 2019 Signing Class (Through Dec. 19)
OL Chris Akporoghene (Seymour, Tenn./IMG Academy)
ATH Aaron Beasley (Franklin, Ga./Heard County HS)
TE Sean Brown (Rome, Ga./Coosa HS)
DB Warren Burrell (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett HS)
DB Tyus Fields (Cornelius, N.C./Hough HS)
LB Roman Harrison (Bainbridge, Ga./Bainbridge HS)
WR Ramel Keyton (Marietta, Ga./Marietta HS)
OL Jackson Lampley (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy)
TE Jackson Lowe (Cartersville, Ga./Cartersville HS)
QB Brian Maurer (Ocala, Fla./West Port HS)
OL Melvin McBride (Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven HS)
DB Jaylen McCollough (Powder Springs, Ga./Hillgrove HS)
WR Jerrod Means (Hampton, Ga./Lovejoy HS)
DL Darel Middleton (Oak Ridge, Tenn. /East Mississippi CC)
OL Wanya Morris (Loganville, Ga./Grayson HS)
DL Elijah Simmons (Nashville, Tenn./Pearl Cohn HS)
DL Savion Williams (Upper Marlboro, Md./Lackawanna College)

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