Top-rated Tennessee recruit Lance Wilhoite: Jeremy Pruitt showing love Butch Jones never did

tennessee-recruiting-lance wilhoite-jeremy pruitt-butch jones

Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee’s new staff making up ground for an important in-state prospect.

Making up for lost time

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is trying to make up for lost time with 4-star in-state prospect Lance Wilhoite. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound wide receiver from Franklin Road Academy ranks as the best 2019 prospect in the Volunteer State, according to the 247Sports composite.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt said in his introductory news conference the Vols would dominate in-state recruiting with him at the helm. In order to do so, however, Pruitt is having to mend some relationships that soured with the previous coaching staff.

“They are trying to build a relationship because I know in the past I didn’t like Tennessee because how the staff treated me,” Wilhoite told SEC Country. “I veered away and wasn’t too worried about them. Once they show me they love me, they’ll come back into the picture a little bit.

“The older staff, with Coach [Butch] Jones, was cool and all in, but we didn’t chop it up like I chop it up with the other schools really high on my list.”

Pruitt and the coaching staff are putting in a lot of work to get back into the picture. Wilhoite says Tennessee is one of the schools recruiting him the hardest, along with Arkansas, Florida State, Ohio State, Louisville and Florida.

Wilhoite is thinking about possibly taking a visit to Tennessee on March 22. If he doesn’t make it, he plans to come sometime in April.

“I’m looking forward to talking with Coach Pruitt more,” Wilhoite said while wearing a Tennessee basketball jersey. “I know I’ve talked with Coach Pruitt more than I talked with Coach Jones in the time he’s been here. That goes for the staff, too.”

Running back coach Chris Weinke reaches out to the Nashville native every day, and other Tennessee coaches keep in touch, as well. The Vols are trying to make up for the relationship that clearly got so sideways with the Jones staff.

“I’m not going to put in-state players on a pedestal,” Wilhoite said. “I guess you’re supposed to get a certain feeling from a coach because you’re an in-state player. Knowing that school is behind [you] 100 percent, whether you go to that school or not. I just didn’t feel that from them throughout my whole recruitment process. They offered me my freshman year, after that, they didn’t really talk to me my freshman, sophomore or junior year.

“Since they have a new staff, they are talking to me more than the old staff was.”

Critical visit

Whenever Wilhoite eventually comes to Rocky Top, it’ll likely be Pruitt’s most pivotal visit since taking over at Tennessee. And if it doesn’t go well, it might be tough to get Wilhoite to return.

The staff will likely need to pull out all the stops. Florida State impressed Wilhoite on his recent visit to Tallahassee. Arkansas really popped for the playmaker, as well.

“Not going to lie, I liked Arkansas a lot after the visit,” Wilhoite said. “I want to go back. That put [the Razorbacks] higher on my list after that visit.”

Not only does he want to go back, but he wants to back soon. The possible March 22 trip to Knoxville was originally planned for Arkansas but it’s spring break in Fayetteville.

Wilhoite values relationships a lot in his recruitment. Arkansas’ staff did an excellent job using the visit to build some meaningful relationships.

“Other than Arkansas, maybe Ohio State and Florida State, I’m super comfortable with the whole entire staff,” Wilhoite said. “Arkansas brought out everyone on their staff, including defense and special teams. I’ve built a relationship with every single one of the coaches. So that made them stand out to me.”

It’s only March and there is plenty of time for Pruitt and the staff to close the gap in this recruitment. Speaking with him every day is a great start, but the visit will be critical.

Graphic made for top defensive prospect

Tennessee is trying to break into North Carolina and recruit some of the top talent in that state, as well. The Vols made a graphic for 4-star defensive back Savion Jackson on Wednesday.

Jackson plays defensive end for Clayton High School and ranks as the No. 36 prospect in the country, according to the 247Sports composite.

The 6-2, 245-pound priority prospect has notable offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Ohio State and others, along with Tennessee.

The Vols are casting a wide net early in the Class of 2019 recruiting process. Jackson the high-end prospect this staff is going to be putting effort into.

Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news here.

The post Top-rated Tennessee recruit Lance Wilhoite: Jeremy Pruitt showing love Butch Jones never did appeared first on SEC Country.

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