The Volunteer State is loaded at wideout for the 2019 class, as Trey Knox, Kendrell Scurry, Shamar Nash and Lance Wilhoite are all priority targets for Tennessee next cycle.
Wilhoite was the only one of the group who attended ‘Orange Carpet Day’ though, visiting Tennessee for the second time this spring last Saturday.
After getting another opportunity to bond with new receivers coach Kevin Beard, the Vols have positioned themselves as a favorite landing spot for the 6-foot-3, 165-pound wideout from Franklin Road Academy.
“Tennessee sticks out more than others,” said Wilhoite, who also holds offers from Ohio State, LSU, South Carolina, Louisville and Kentucky, among others.
“They’re a top school for (me).”
In recent weeks, the Nashville native has enjoyed getting to know Beard better, saying, “Coach (Zach) Azzanni left, but coach Beard, his replacement, it’s been good that he’s really trying to get to know me as a person, not only as a player.”
“Other coaches kind of talk to you like you’re a grown individual, but I’m still young,” Wilhoite added.
“I’m only 16. So (Beard) really understands that I’m younger, and he really isn’t trying to push me like I’m an 18-or 20-year-old kid, so he really gets to know me as a young teenager. Not as like a young adult. That’s why we vibe a lot.”
Wilhoite said he's drawn to Tennessee for multiple reasons — It's an SEC program. It's the in-state school — but also because the Vols present an opportunity for the 4-star wideout to play with his close friend and former FRA teammate/Vols commit Adonis Otey.
Wilhoite is also buddies with several other top 2019 targets from the Nashville area including Knox, defensive end Joseph Anderson and corner Wesley Walker.
“That plays a big role,” he said.
“We’re pretty stacked. 2019 probably has the strongest class for Tennessee. Me, Adonis, Trey Knox, Joe. Wesley. He really good, too, so there’s a lot of people who are really good. … I think Tennessee will be really good if we all stay home. I know it might not happen, but if it does happen, we’ll probably see ourselves in a few SEC Championships.”
Wilhoite managed respectable numbers as a sophomore playing in a tough situation last season at FRA, recording 17 receptions for 273 yards and three touchdowns. He’s already pinpointed a few areas to improve upon, too, hoping to emulate his game after former All-American wideout Julio Jones.
“He’s a very dominant player,” Wilhoite said.
“I’m 6-2.5 and he’s 6-3. There’s a lot of comparisons there. I’m also trying to gain weight so I can get more physical off the line. That’s what I’m really working on. If I master that I’ll be straight because my footwork and speed are progressing daily.”
Along with Tennessee, Wilhoite said Louisville, UK and South Carolina are standing out the most to him right now. Ohio State and LSU could be factors, too.
He plans on visiting all the schools over the next year and then “narrow(ing) down my list after my junior season going into my senior season.”