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Lace ‘Em Up, It’s Time

Monday, the TSSAA dead period ended, and Tennessee high schools can begin pre-season practice.

Next Monday, Atlanta will be the center of the college football universe when SEC Media Days convene.

To heighten the excitement and intensity, especially for throngs of Tennessee football fans, recruiting news has reached a fever’s pitch.

Last week, Tennessee earned the commitments of Cristian Conyer, three-star defensive back who is regarded as one of the top four players from Kentucky.

Next came the news that four-star athlete Cam Seldon jumped on the Big Orange bus. He’s a player from Virginia who could fill a lot of roles.

Tennessee also garnered the commitment from prized four-star Georgia offensive tackle Sham Umarov. That was huge because Georgia badly wanted him.

Then the big news came. Five-star defensive end Chandavian Bradley, from Missouri, climbed aboard. His commitment was huge and helped propel the Vols to No. 5 spot in the 247 recruiting composite rankings.

This sort of helps take the sting off missing on five-star wide receiver Carnell Tate and five-star offensive lineman Francis Mauigoa. Sure, it hurts the UT fans, but that’s the nature of recruiting. You win some, you lose some. But at least Tennessee was in the hunt, something it couldn’t declare not too terribly long ago.

The new family environment and last year’s seven-win season, despite much adversity, has made Knoxville a desirable destination. The kids like the atmosphere, the campus and the coaches.

As a result, the Vols could finish with a Top 10 recruiting class for 2023. Kids are coming from the border states as well as the home turf. The staff is filling needs all over the field on both sides of the ball.

Butch Jones recruited well, but he and his crew just forgot to coach them once the showed up in Knoxville. I don’t think UT fans have to worry about that with thus staff.

When you look at this year’s schedule, a 10-win season certainly is possible. With that kind of momentum, recruiting will become a lot easier. Keep in mind, however, that these are kids and, as such, they are subject to youthful whims and short attention spans. All this could change in an eyeblink.

But these kids won’t be in orange jerseys for another year. Patience is a virtue that has worn thin with the Rocky Top faithful.

That said, Tennessee fans are starting to get that old feeling back where what the Vols do matters.

For now, that’s a good start.

Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m. CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB, 95.9 FM in Camden, Tennessee.

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