- Josh and Swain Newsletter
- 🏈 Momentum for Josh Heupel, Tennessee Football
🏈 Momentum for Josh Heupel, Tennessee Football
The Vols are going after a bunch of 5-stars
Hello. This is the Josh and Swain Newsletter, a quick roundup of the week’s top stories and topics involving Tennessee and the sports world.
Here’s what we have for you today:
Why Tennessee fans should be excited about off-field momentum
How Tennessee Basketball’s profile has changed under Rick Barnes
A record prediction for Tennessee Football in 2023
Putting a bow on a successful Tennessee Baseball season
ABC = ALWAYS BE ‘CROOTIN
This is a quiet time on the college football calendar.
Players are going through summer workouts, but that’s a behind-the-scenes activity that fans aren’t watching.
The season is getting closer (70ish days to go!) but far enough away to need some filler conversation.
That brings us to the world of recruiting.
It never stops — and right now it’s very busy.
In last week’s newsletter, we mentioned that Tennessee is in the middle of the most important recruiting stretch of the year for the 2024 class.
Since then, Tennessee has landed commitments from:
◾ Athlete Boo Carter from Chattanooga
◾ Linebacker Jordan Burns from Atlanta
◾ Offensive lineman Max Anderson from Frisco, Texas
All three prospects have received a four-star rating from different recruiting services. And all three players were priorities for Tennessee’s coaching staff.
That combination makes this past week a success. UT’s staff has hit needs with players they prioritized early in the recruiting process.
Landing Anderson is especially important.
Tennessee needs big-time linemen to win in the SEC.
Josh Heupel’s offense can succeed with just about anyone on the field.
But the more talent he can work with, the more chances Tennessee will have to compete against Alabama, Georgia, and other top SEC programs.
Look at last year’s offense.
The skill position players earned most of the attention, but the Vols wouldn’t have produced the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense without right tackle Darnell Wright.
There’s a reason Wright was the first Vol taken in the NFL Draft – by a wide margin.
Tennessee needs more players like that.
And there’s a lot more work to be done as Tennessee has a bunch of highly-touted players remaining on the board.
How Tennessee performs over the next 5-6 weeks in recruiting will go a long way in determining how the Vols’ 2024 class finishes.
And Tennessee’s staff expects success.
We asked Austin Price of Volquest to help with an over/under on commitments for the Vols between now and Aug. 1.
Price: “If it’s not way over 3.5 by August 1st, I think that is bad, bad, bad. It should be way over 3.5.”
Oh, ok. How about over 5.5?
Price: “I still think it’s over by August 1st.”
That question came before Anderson’s commitment on Wednesday afternoon. So there’s one off the board, putting Tennessee at 14 commitments.
So at least five more commitments coming in the next 35-40 days?
For die-hard recruiting fans, this will be a fun stretch to follow.
And for casual fans who want good recruiting results but don’t want to follow it day in and day out… at least there should be something good to check on until football season arrives.
Learn more about the latest with Tennessee’s recruiting in our chat with Austin Price. ⬇️⬇️
ANOTHER VOL HOOPER DRAFTED
Fomer Tennessee basketball player Julian Phillips is headed to the Chicago Bulls.
Phillips was drafted in the second round (35th overall) on Thursday night by the Boston Celtics. A couple of trades, one involving the Washington Wizards before the draft, sent Phillips to the Bulls.
Phillips played one season at Tennessee.
He made a big splash early when he scored 25 points against USC in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November.
But that was Phillips’ only 20-point game of the season. He didn’t score more than 10 points in a game after Jan. 17.
Health might have been a factor late in the season. He missed more than two weeks of games in February due to a hip injury and played fewer minutes when he returned.
Tennessee’s offense was not exactly a fine-tuned machine for much of the season, either.
Did Phillips lose confidence on the offensive end during the season?
Phillips’ defensive ability helped his draft status, and his athleticism combined with potential creates hope for his offensive game in the future.
Phillips continues a recent trend for Tennessee.
The Vols have had seven players drafted into the NBA in the last five years.
A program that doesn’t have a lot of NBA history now is on the professional radar.
From the Rick Barnes era, Grant Williams is by far the most successful NBA player to this point.
The former two-time SEC Player of the Year is set to receive a big contract this offseason.
Who from Tennessee might be next as an NBA Draft prospect?
That’s tough to answer.
Josiah-Jordan James might’ve been a second-round pick had he stayed in this year’s draft. He’ll be a possibility next year.
Freshman Freddie Dilione is an intriguing prospect, and big men Jonas Aidoo and Tobe Awaka could command attention in the future.
Jahmai Mashack will show up on draft boards if his offensive game makes a jump. See: Josh Richardson in 2015.
It’s unlikely Tennessee has a one-and-done freshman on the team, as has been the case the last three years.
Maybe that’s a good thing for the Vols
Kennedy Chandler made a big impact in his one season a year ago.
But Phillips, Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer came and went without much for Tennessee fans to remember.
Sending players to the NBA is great for Tennessee as it will always help on the recruiting trail.
But keeping and developing talent is important, too.
Tennessee’s basketball team should have a lot of that to work with this upcoming season.
🏈 Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports predicted every game in the SEC this fall. See Tennessee’s results here. (And hear Barrett on Friday’s Josh and Swain at 12:30 ET)
🏈 Kevin Clark offered a reminder to college sports executives regarding what fans actually care about: the sports.
🏈 Tennessee probably won’t win the national title this year. Read why that is NOT a negative statement.
⚾ LSU beat Wake Forest on Tommy White’s 11th-inning walk-off home run on Thursday. LSU will play Florida in the MCWS championship round.
🏀 Here are the full NBA Draft results. Notice there was only one college player selected in the top five and two in the top seven.
🏀 Will Wade and LSU basketball/football received their punishments from the NCAA. Will we see lighter penalties in the future (including in Knoxville)?
🏀 Chris Paul is headed to the Warriors. What? The deal will send Jordan Poole to the Wizards, where Paul had been headed after a trade with Phoenix.
STICK TO SPORTS!
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg aren’t actually going to fight.
According to the two tech CEOs, yes, they will.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)
Jun 22, 2023
So if Musk and Zuck fight, who are you taking?
Allan Bell of SportsLine told us he’d set odds at -300 in favor of Zuckerberg.
Surprised? Don’t be when you learn more about Zuckerberg’s Brazilian jiu-Jitsu training.
If this all sounds absurd… good.
Because it is.
This section of the newsletter is called “Stick to Sports.” Much of the world will say “stick to tech” with this story.
ONE LAST BYTE OUT THE DOOR
Tennessee’s baseball season came to a disappointing end on Tuesday when the Vols lost to LSU.
But some perspective: Tennessee lost in the College World Series after winning a game in Omaha for the first time in more than 20 years.
Tennessee’s season provided a roller coaster ride.
It began with a preseason No. 2 ranking that was too high at the time.
With so many players from last year’s team gone, this year’s squad needed more time to gel as a team.
A daunting SEC schedule left Tennessee 5-10 in the middle of conference play.
But the Vols turned things around and provided an exciting ride that included a series win at South Carolina, a comeback win at Clemson in the NCAA Regional, and rallies against Southern Miss and Stanford that showed the improvement Tennessee made.
Tennessee baseball has arrived as a nationally relevant program and will continue to be that as long as Tony Vitello is the head coach.
Don’t expect anything to get easier playing in the SEC. This weekend’s final matchup of Florida-LSU is a reminder of that.
But the last few years have given Tennessee fans something to look forward to during baseball season.
And fans have given Tennessee baseball something they can be proud to represent.
Just look at this video from departing senior Griffin Merritt.
"Something you learn with age and time in this game is perspective. Trust me it hurts, but I'm grateful."
@G_Merritt10 reflects on his year with the #Vols.
— Sam Rothman (@samrothman_)
Jun 21, 2023
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