Tennessee Volunteers Back in the Lead for Josh Malone?

By Patrick Schmidt
Josh Malone-Tennessee Volunteers
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee target Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn. Station Camp) has kept his recruitment close to the vest and even said he may take his official visits without telling anyone. Over the course of the summer, the Volunteers have been viewed as the favorite for the No. 6 wide receiver recruit and according to some, not even in consideration for an official visit.

Any confusion in regard to Malone and his standing with Tennessee can officially be put to rest after this weekend when the 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver and the No. 2 recruit in the state visited Knoxville for the team’s open practice. Among the 39,000 in attendance witnessing Butch Jones’ team, the appearance of Malone may have trumped any storylines relating to the on-the-field product.

Saturday’s visit to Tennessee was his fourth since Junior Day in February—the most of any other school—but it was also his first appearance since June 10. This was an opportunity for the coaches to show him the love and tell him how much they needed him to be a part of this team. Seeing nearly 40,000 on a rainy Saturday night for a practice was another benefit of the trip to see the amount of enthusiasm and support from the fan base.

Georgia is assured of an official visit and now Tennessee is going to host the No. 52 player in the 247Sports composite rankings, but that date has yet to be determined.

“It’s a good chance to go up there and play early, and the offense moves the ball around a lot and likes to throw the ball around a lot,” Malone tells Ryan Callahan. “And the coaching staff, it’s a good coaching staff. They’re really likable, and I really enjoy being around them, so I decided I need to take an official up there.

My guess is his visit will be the Oct. 5 game vs. the Bulldogs. Besides Georgia, the teams to beat to get Malone’s commitment, which will come at the end of the year so he can enroll early, are Vanderbilt and Florida State.

The lure of playing in-state and with his friend and current Tennessee commit Rashaan Gaulden along with the opportunity to play early in a pass-happy offense could be what moves Tennessee to the top and keeps them there this time.

Malone had 28 receptions for 408 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. His Station Camp team will play on ESPN2 on Sunday at noon ET vs. Beech which is home to Tennessee’s top commit and five-star running back Jalen Hurd.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

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