Former teammates of Tennessee football Volunteers quarterback Harrison Bailey could be on the move.
Recruiting continues to provide an interesting twist for Tennessee football. The early signing period for 2021 high school recruits is just around the corner, but near the conclusion of every season, recruiting from the transfer portal becomes just as important.
On Monday, two former recruiting targets were rumored to be leaving their current university. Meanwhile, the Vols locked down a commitment from Amari McNeil while suffering a third decommitment in two weeks from Darrell Jackson, thus continuing what is always guaranteed to be a wild December in recruiting news.
Multiple reports indicate that LSU Tigers tight end Arik Gilbert and defensive end B.J. Ojulari may both be considering leaving the program to play closer to home. The two current LSU teammates also played together at Marietta High School with Tennessee football quarterback Harrison Bailey.
Following a plethora of opt-outs this season, Gilbert is the Tigers’ active leading receiver with 368 yards and two touchdowns. At tight-end, a position that UT has struggled to pull serious production from in recent years, the former five-star’s talents would be greatly appreciated.
Gilbert, one of the highest-graded freshman tight ends in the country, even missed LSU’s practice on Monday. That shows how serious of an option the transfer portal is for him, and he would be a great addition to UT.
Ojulari should sound familiar to Tennessee football fans. The former four-star recruit in the 2020 class was committed to the Vols for a little over two months before flipping his commitment to Ed Orgeron’s program.
His brother, Azeez, now a redshirt sophomore edge rusher for the Georgia Bulldogs, has been terrorizing the Vols for years. Obviously, joining his brother and playing closer to home sounds like the most comfortable choice, inclining many to believe UGA is the favorite to land Ojulari if he leaves LSU.
Sure, if the two former high school teammates from Marietta High school are homesick, it’s easy to call out the Bulldogs as the hometown favorites to land the two expected transfers. But unlike many of the schools mentioned in their possible re-recruitment, no one has ties to the two freshmen, with the exception of UGA because of their proximity, quite like the Vols.
For starters, Ojulari was at one point on his way to join UT’s program. Any time a player is leaving the current institution they attend, you have to take a look back at what programs were heavily involved in their recruitment. Now, some may believe that Ojulari’s initial commitment wasn’t genuine from the start, but the Vols still certainly fit that bill.
In terms of what’s next for Gilbert, if homesickness is really the issue, Knoxville is certainly not far from Marrietta, Ga. What feels even more like home than having your high school quarterback, the same player that helped you earn Gatorade National Player of the Year honors, slinging you the ball at the collegiate level?
No, Tennessee football doesn’t seem to be the initial frontrunners to land Gilbert or Ojulari, but saying they don’t have a chance is nonsensical. If their 2-6 record is an inclination of anything, it’s that either one of these players would likely have a great chance of playing right away if they were to choose Knoxville.