Crucial Weekend for Tennessee Volunteers' Recruitment of Josh Malone

By Patrick Schmidt
Butch Jones-Tennessee
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The spring was full of optimism at Tennessee where first-year head coach Butch Jones was assembling what could end up as the best recruiting class the Volunteers have had in more than a decade. However, after starting 2-0, the Vols have gone 1-2 in their past three games and the euphoria from the recruiting success has begun to wear off.

The Vols will try to get that feeling back this weekend when the they host No. 6 Georgia and a number of top targets on the recruiting trail.

Recruits who are scheduled to be in attendance include five-star OLB Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill. Plainfield South), four-star receiver Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C. Leesville Road), four-star running back Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C. Havelock) and four-star defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill. O’Fallon Township).

All are important targets for Tennessee, but of the recruits taking official visits this weekend, none is more important than four-star receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn. Station Camp), who just took an official to Georgia when they beat LSU.

Malone is a priority because Jones and his staff are focused on keeping the top talent in the state and bringing them to Tennessee. Malone is the top uncommitted recruit in the Volunteer State, and the No. 6 receiver in the 247Sports composite rankings is going to need to be floored on his visit to stem the momentum Georgia has.

Both schools will allow him an opportunity to play early, but if Tennessee’s ongoing concerns at quarterback continue throughout the season, it could prove difficult to convince him to stay close to home. Georgia will have a new quarterback next season, but the known of a bad situation at Tennessee could outweigh the unknown at Georgia for the 6-foot-3,190-pound target.

Malone is also scheduled to visit Florida State and may visit Clemson and Florida, but I think this comes down to Georgia or Tennessee.

I’m sticking with my prediction of Tennessee for Malone, but Georgia is making it awfully hard to feel overly confident about that pick. Saturday will go a long way towards Malone’s decision-making process, so if there was ever a time for Justin Worley and Tennessee to pull off the upset of the year, now is the time.

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

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