KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Friday’s signing announcement by Under Armour All-American Alontae Taylor gave head coach Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee football program 13 members in their 2018 Class. The Early Signing Period began on Wednesday and wraps up at the end of the day on Friday.
UT will add several more Vols during the traditional National Signing Day on Feb. 7.
Taylor starred at Coffee County Central High School and was named Offensive MVP of the 2017 Toyota East-West Tennessee All-Star Classic after totaling 180 yards of total offense and tossing the game-winning touchdown pass.
Including Taylor, the Vols have signed five of the state’s Top 10 football recruits, according to Rivals, with blue chip defensive end Greg Emerson (No. 3), Cordova High School teammates Jerome Carvin (No. 8) and Jeremy Banks (No. 9), and 2017 Tennessee Titans District II-A Mr. Football Brant Lawless (No. 10). Taylor (No. 4) rushed for 6,000 yards and scored 75 touchdowns during his prep career.
Tennessee announced the signing of City College of San Francisco defensive end Jordan Allen on Thursday. Allen is ESPN’s No. 9-rated overall junior college prospect in the country. He is expected to play linebacker for the Vols.
Before signing Allen and Taylor on Thursday and Friday, respectively, Tennessee inked 11 newcomers on Wednesday.
“We are very excited to welcome this group of outstanding young men who signed with us today,” Pruitt said on Wednesday night. “They are terrific football players, who also display exceptional character off the field. We appreciate the commitment they have made to the University of Tennessee. They will be the foundation for our first signing class here. We said we were going to build a fence around the state and this is a good start. We also know that Tennessee is a national brand, and it’s exciting that some of these players from across the country will be wearing the ‘T’ on their helmets. We hope to have a few more guys sign these next two days, too.
“We know we still have a lot of work to do on the recruiting trail, as we will sign several more players in February, but today is a great way to begin. We will get back to work when I return in January. I want to thank Vol Nation for all of the support these first two weeks on the job. I am honored and humbled to be your head coach, and I’m looking forward to devoting all of my time to our football team following the College Football Playoff.”
Overall, the Big Orange early signing class features eight members from the state of Tennessee, three Californians, one player from Florida and one South Carolina native.
Seven of the newest Vols have been selected for postseason high school all-star games, including U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant Emerson, a defensive end, and Under Armour All-America Game selections Paxton Brooks, the nation’s No. 2 punter, and Taylor.
The class also features a pair of Knoxville area stars in Gibbs offensive lineman Ollie Lane and Farragut tight end Jacob Warren.
California quarterback JT Shrout rocketed up recruiting boards this season and is ranked as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the nation, according to Rivals, while Dominick Wood-Anderson is the No. 1-rated junior college tight end prospect in the country.
Additionally, the Vols signed one of the Nashville area’s top recruits in offensive lineman Tanner Antonutti and national prep powerhouse IMG Academy defensive lineman Kingston Harris.
After being named head coach on Dec. 7, Pruitt had just 10 days to put together a signing class before the dead period began on Dec. 18, limiting contact with recruits. Pruitt, who was named 247Sports Recruiter of the Year in 2012, and members of his coaching staff worked tirelessly to secure the Early Signing Period class.