Recruits have a lot to consider when making their collegiate decisions. Distance from home is commonly a factor, as is the program’s coaching staff and schematic strategy. Each of these areas can be evaluated by the recruit from his hometown, but the type of gameday atmosphere a school presents is an intangible quality that must be experienced in person.
That said, fall Saturdays are always big recruiting moments for schools across the country, and perhaps no game was billed as more important this week than the contest between No. 9 Tennessee and No. 1 Alabama. The Volunteers played host to not only Alabama, but also a slew of highly coveted recruits, and a win over the Crimson Tide could trigger a domino effect on the recruiting trail.
According to 247Sports.com, Tennessee boasts the No. 10 recruiting class for 2017, and Butch Jones has done an impressive job of spreading optimism and energy across the Volunteers’ campus. In fact, 24 different senior prospects have bought into Jones’ vision for the school and issued their commitments, a total that stacks up as fifth-best in the competitive Southeastern Conference.
One recruit on the Tennessee campus for the potential SEC Championship Game preview is four-star offensive tackle Thayer Munford, a prized prospect from Massillon (Oh.) Washington High School. Munford tweeted out an announcement of his visit for the Crimson Tide contest before the game began.
Munford is a physically impressive recruit at 6-foot-6 and 339-pounds, and his size is impossible to miss on film. Because of his stature, Munford looks stiff and has a tough time bending to put his hand on the ground, but his physical tools cannot be ignored.
When run blocking, Munford throws defenders around when clearing a path and uses his strength to create clear alleys to run through. At this stage in his development, Munford is a more skilled run blocker and would be tested in pass protection against a speedy edge rusher.
Ranked the No. 29 offensive tackle in his class, Munford holds offers from Alabama, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Ohio, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and UCF. At first glance, this game would possess even more importance to Munford since he holds offers from both programs, but Alabama is nearly full at the offensive line and is believed to have moved on from the Ohio native at this point.
Tennessee originally offered Munford back in July and the two parties have grown closer since that time. As it stands, the Volunteers have 24 commits but only one that is an offensive lineman, three-star Huntington (W.V.) Spring Valley tackle Riley Locklear, so there may be an opportunity to take the field early if the Vols do not fill their class with other blockers.
After this season, Tennessee will lose center Dylan Wiesman to graduation, so there may be a bit of shuffling along the offensive line. The Volunteers will have two sophomores in the two-deep, showing that Jones is not afraid of playing young talent in high pressure games. Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Drew Richmond has actually gained extended run this season, so playing time is available at Tennessee.