Tennessee is expected to get some early fireworks for Independence Day on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern time when four-star linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Ponte Vedra) is expected to announce his plants to play for the Volunteers.
If you’ve been reading my coverage of Bates or follow recruiting you know that this is not a secret as Bates has been a Volunteer lean for the longest time. Despite attention from Alabama and Florida the 6-3, 220-pound outside linebacker never appeared to waver on his desire to play for the same school as his father Bill Bates. The elder Bates was a four-year starter at free and strong safety, earned second All-SEC honors as a junior and senior, and went on to have a 15-year NFL career.
Bates has been stealing the headlines, and deservedly so, but other players have flown under the radar in recent days and weeks. Here are a few players Tennessee fans should monitor moving forward.
Stanton Truitt (Monroe, Ga. Monroe Area) once looked like a lock to come to Knoxville for his college career after the Vols sent the three-star athlete more than 100 recruiting letters earlier this year. Tennessee, however, is slipping in his mind and recent interest from Kentucky and South Carolina have the two passing Tennessee.
The reason for the change-of-heart is interest in playing wide receiver and not defensive back. This is why I believe Kentucky receives his commitment where four-star quarterback commit Drew Barker is selling him on the program. He is visiting the Wildcats Jul. 19, and after that visit they should be viewed as his leader.
Ray Raulerson (Tampa, Fla. Plant) is a new name on the recruiting trail compared to the previous two players, but the three-star offensive lineman is a fast-riser who has the Vols near the top of his list. The 6-4, 280-pounder came away highly impressed following his Jun. 20 visit and had glowing remarks about the university, fan base, coaches and facilities. Raulerson tells Ryan Callahan, “The campus is really cool. The fan base is one of the best in the country, which is very cool, and the facilities are all brand-new and all that. It’s just a really cool place. It’s a sleeping giant, as one of the coaches told me.”
Raulerson is expected to trim his favorites down to a top five; Tennessee is not only expected to be in that group, but also I believe they are No. 1 school and the favorites to receive his commitment. He could project to either guard or tackle in college and as it stands would be the third commitment from an offensive lineman.
Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill. Plainfield South) officially named Tennessee in his top two, and although the visit is not scheduled, he is trying to visit Tennessee by the end of the month. I wrote about his looming visit here, and the impact his time on campus and in front of the coaches could have on his recruitment.
I’ve maintained all along Tennessee is the underdog for the 5-star outside linebacker who has LSU well out in front and don’t want to get fans’ hopes up. Therefore, this visit is the biggest event awaiting the Volunteers program on the recruiting trail. Garrett is not planning to announce until this winter so plenty of time exists to let Butch Jones and his staff work their magic.
Recruiting is a fluid situation and things change in a flash, but these are the latest notes for the Volunteers heading into Wednesday’s announcement from Bates who should be the face of the defense for the next four years.