The Checkerboard Mailbag 3.0

Welcome to The Checkerboard Mailbag 3.0. Tennessee lit up the recruiting trail, receiving commitments from two defensive backs and a power forward on the basketball court. So much for Rick Barnes and Jeremy Pruitt not being able to recruit.

Let’s chop it up.

Tennessee recruiting its tail off

It all started Friday afternoon, when Barnes received a commitment from Knoxville native Drew Pember. The 6-foot-9, 190-pound power forward from Bearden High School is a three-star, rated as the No. 179 overall player, No. 6 player in the state of Tennessee and the No. 33 power forward in the 2019 class. Pember is the second commitment for the Vols in the ’19 class, joining three-star small forward Davonte Gaines, a native of New York City.

Pember reminds me of the addition of redshirt freshman Zach Kent in the 2017 recruiting class. A guy who has a really nice jump shot but is a project. Pember stretches the floor well as a sharp-shooter from the perimeter. He’ll need to add strength before he becomes a factor for the Vols.

Later Friday afternoon, Jeremy Pruitt received a commitment from four-star defensive back Anthony Harris over North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech. Harris reigns from Havelock High School in Havelock, North Carolina as the No. 171 overall player in the country and the No. 11 ranked safety.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Harris is one of the best defensive backs in the country and is exactly what the Vols secondary needed – a Rashaan Gaulden type that can do it all. Harris has good coverage skills and elite run-stopping ability that will allow him to compete for early playing time when he arrives on Rocky Top.

On Sunday afternoon, Pruitt and his staff received more good news when Aaron Beasleycommitted to Tennessee. As a three-star athlete from Heard County High School in Franklin, Georgia, Beasley committed to the Vols over the likes of Florida State and Auburn. Beasley is the No. 460 overall prospect in the country and the No. 35 safety in the class according to 247Sports.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Beasley does it all for his high school team, playing tailback and defensive back. At tailback, he rushed for over 1,700 yards and 29 touchdowns while tallying 60 tackles and three interceptions at defensive back. Beasley is slated to arrive in Knoxville as a safety.

Run defense is Beasley’s strong suit. He’s stout in run pursuit, delivers big hits and fills the gaps well. His coverage skills are what he’ll need to enhance in order to be a do-it-all safety for the Vols. 

Question from Jaime Johnson (@TripleOGJamie): What is your favorite Turkey Man call and your favorite Triple O call?

Oh man, what a question. So many options for this answer. How dare you make me decide, Triple O.

As for my favorite Turkey Man call, I would have to say the time he called in and pronounced Jarrett Guarantano as “Guantanamo Bay.” We all fell out of our chairs laughing. This is just one of the many glorious phrases Turkey Man has mouthed. 

I don’t have a single favorite Triple O call, because quite frankly, all of Triple O’s calls are great. My favorite phone calls involving Triple O though, are without a doubt the ones that involve Swain and Triple O going at it about the Bears and the Lions. There is nothing better than hearing Swain dog the Lions for going 0-16 and Triple O labeling Chicago as the Care Bears. Those have been outstanding phone calls.

What you need to know: 

John Kelly signs NFL rookie deal with the Los Angeles Rams

Tennessee fan favorite John Kelly has signed his rookie deal with the Los Angeles Rams as he looks to become a fan favorite with the NFC West power. Following the completion of OTAs, Kelly signed a four-year deal worth $2,603,296. Kelly will receive a guaranteed signing bonus of $188,296. The Rams drafted Kelly in the sixth-round with the No. 176thoverall pick.

Austin Thomas

Former LSU general manager Austin Thomas is headed to College Station to join Jimbo Fisher’s staff. After being recognized as one of the upcoming brilliant behind-the-scenes minds in all of football, his path to be a potential NFL general manager has taken an interesting route. 

In December, Thomas left Baton Rouge to join Pruitt’s first-year staff, until contract negotiations derailed the move. Thomas also backed out of a job with Ole Miss in February. After almost seven months of being without a job, Thomas will be recruiting against the Vols as an Aggie.

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

Chamique Holdsclaw and Mickie DeMoss were inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend. Following the induction of DeMoss and Holdsclaw induction, the Lady Vols now have 12 inductees.

Number of the week: 10

Only 10 more Saturday’s to make it through without college football.

Have a blessed week and remember to spread love and peace. Talk to y’all on Friday.