The Tennessee Vols missed out on one of their top 2023 recruiting targets on Monday when five-star wide receiver Carnell Tate committed to Ohio State.

Tate, 6-foot-2/185 lbs from Bradenton, FL (by way of Chicago), is ranked in 247Sports’ composite rankings as the No. 3 wide receiver in the country and the No. 28 overall player in the 2023 recruiting class.

The talented wide receiver also had LSU and Notre Dame among his finalists.

Tate spoke to The Athletic a couple of weeks ago and explained his decision to commit to Ohio State. The Athletic published his comments on Monday after he announced his commitment to the Buckeyes.

“What’s important is player development,” explained Tate. “(Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian) Hartline, what he has done for his receivers, you see Chris (Olave) and Garrett (Wilson) became first-round picks back to back. That stands out for me as well as their receiver-friendly offense. They always have multiple great receivers coming out of Ohio State. I would love to be the next one. Plus, coach (Ryan) Day’s play-calling — he gets his receivers the ball.”

Tate also discussed the role that NIL played in his recruitment.

“It (NIL) hasn’t mixed up the thought process for me at all,” said Tate. “Because I know the big bucks come at the end when you go to the league. I don’t think NIL money can touch the league money as of right now. I know that picking money over development won’t get you into the right spot. Because the NIL money doesn’t help you get to the league.”

From what I understand, based on information from various sources, Tennessee (or a collective associated with Tennessee) offered Tate a competitive NIL package that rivaled (or was maybe even more, exact numbers are unknown) what he’ll be receiving from Ohio State.

It sounds like this simply came down to Tate’s desire to play at Ohio State, which is understandable. Tate is from the midwest so it makes sense that he’d want to play for a program in the midwest. The fact Tennessee was even in this battle at all was impressive. The Vols were the only other program that had a serious shot to land Tate. LSU and Notre Dame were in his final four, but they weren’t serious factors in the end.

You win some and you lose some. Josh Heupel will win his fair share of these recruiting battles, but he had too much to overcome to win this one.

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