Tennessee Football Welcomes Class of 2024

By Mark Nagi

I can’t be the only one who misses the old National Signing Day.

The first Wednesday in February brought with it fax machines and madness as thousands of college football fans eagerly anticipated which players would join their team in the Fall.

The early signing period has done away with most of the fun. Better for the student-athletes. Worse for the fans.

But I digress.

Last week Tennessee welcomed its Class of 2024, a group of 27 new Vols. That’s 23 high school kids and four college transfers. Eighteen of them are set to be early enrollees who will participate in spring practice.

“I love the length and athleticism that we’ve added,” said Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel. “You look at what we’ve signed, obviously a point of emphasis was the line of scrimmage. We’ll continue to add really good players to our roster in that way, and then athleticism and length at the skill spots. They’re dynamic in the way that they play. I love the competitive makeup of this group. Some guys have already shown some leadership traits, and I’m excited to get to work with them whenever they get to campus.”

When the dust settles this will be a top-15 class nationally, which keeps the Vols among the elite teams in the country, and smack dab in the middle of their fellow SEC schools.

“As competitive as it is on the football field, it’s even more competitive in recruiting,” said Heupel. “The time, energy, effort, and strain. Everybody is working in the same footprint. I think we’re one of the few leagues left where it’s actually a regional footprint. You’re competing against guys inside of your conference every time you’re talking to a kid.”

Tennessee wants to keep the best in-state players from leaving Big Orange Country. And while they lost some good ones, eight players in this Class are from within the state’s borders. Nashville’s Lipscomb Academy was good to the Vols, with 4-star defensive back Kaleb Beasley and 4-star linebacker Edwin Spillman signing with the Vols.

The secondary is a concern for the Vols heading into next season, and Beasley may be called on to make an immediate impact.

“We have some young guys that got to grow and mature as football players, but I love the athletic traits,” Heupel said of his secondary room. “That’s true of the young guys that were with us this past season (and) true of the signees that are coming in. We felt like we wanted to add some experience in those positions. We’ve attacked that through the portal with a couple guys, as well.”

That group of eight in state also includes the 2023 Mr. Football in Class 6A, Boo Carter from Bradley Central in Chattanooga.

“I thought our staff did a great job inside of our home state,” said Heupel. “Boo Carter has played both sides of the line of scrimmage and was really good as a returner as well. We’ve already seen a lot of those skill sets from him. He’s electric, he’s got great change of direction, quickness, and a really good football IQ. He’s natural as a returner, too. We’ve already seen some of that from him. Really excited about who he is. He’s got a real maturity about him on the football field that is rare for a high school kid.”

In addition, five members of the class are from the state of Georgia, including 5-star wide receiver Mike Matthews of Parkview High School in Lilburn.

“He’s (Matthews) got great length, just talking about his wingspan, extremely explosive,” said Heupel. “The ability to go and high point a ball in the middle of the football field or out on the edge just going vertically. As a wide receiver, you are going to have to develop the ability to play versus man press at the line of scrimmage. Those are things that you typically don’t see (from a high school player). But a really bright guy who’s got a great future.”