The Tennessee Vols have been on a recruiting hot streak over the last couple of months.
In late March, the Vols landed a commitment from five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, the No. 6 overall recruit in the nation (247Sports composite rankings).
The Vols also recently secured a commitment from four-star edge rusher Caleb Herring, the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee.
Josh Heupel and his staff aren’t showing any signs of slowing down on the recruiting trail, but something happened this past week that could cause some problems with two of the Vols’ top 2023 recruiting targets.
Football Scoop’s John Brice reported last week that former Tennessee assistant coach Brian Niedermeyer was recently hired as the defensive coordinator at IMG Academy in Florida.
Niedermeyer was fired by the Vols in the midst of the Jeremy Pruitt recruiting scandal that rocked the program in late 2020/early 2021.
It’s safe to say there’s probably some bad blood between Niedermeyer and Tennessee.
Niedermeyer was a popular assistant during his three years at UT due to his ability to land top-rated recruits for the Vols. That ability to land high-end talent, however, appeared to be the result of some illegal recruiting methods.
How Brian Niedermeyer could cause some issues for the Vols on the recruiting trail
The Vols are in the mix for a couple of IMG Academy players.
2023 four-star wide receiver Carnell Tate and five-star offensive tackle Francis Mauigoa are two IMG Academy players that Tennessee is currently pursuing.
The Vols seem to be in a good spot for both. Tate is trending toward Tennessee, while the Vols are becoming more of a factor for Mauigoa as his recruitment progresses.
Now here’s the big question: Is Niedermeyer’s arrival at IMG Academy going to cause issues for Tennessee’s recruitment of these two elite players?
I think there’s a slight cause for concern. Niedermeyer is a bit of a wild card. It wouldn’t be wise of him to get involved with the recruitment of Tate and Mauigoa. In theory, he should have nothing to do with their recruitment since they’re on the offensive side of the ball.
It would also be a bad look for Niedermeyer to come in and immediately cause issues with a major SEC program like Tennessee. That’s a relationship that’s beneficial for both parties and I can’t imagine IMG Academy would be alright with Niedermeyer damaging the relationship.
Ultimately, I don’t think there’s anything too much to worry about here. But I think it’s at least something that Heupel and his staff should be cognizant of while they’re recruiting Tate and Mauigoa.
If Niedermeyer is going to stick around at IMG Academy for any length of time, then Tennessee is going to have to build a relationship with him. There are going to be more players that UT targets from IMG. And there will be a point when they need to spend time with Niedermeyer. Heupel needs to build a bridge with the disgraced former Vol assistant.
Recruiting is fluid. We see recruits change their mind at the last minute all the time for the tiniest reasons. It’s plausible that Niedermeyer — if he’s feeling spiteful — could get in the ear of Tate or Mauigoa and try to dissuade them from committing to Tennessee.
Maybe I’m totally off base and Niedermeyer working at IMG will be a good thing for the Vols. Maybe he’ll recognize that he’s no longer at UT because of his own actions (and the actions of Pruitt).
Either way, Heupel and his staff need to be prepared to deal with this potential obstacle. Otherwise, they could miss on a chance to land two elite players that Tennessee badly needs in Knoxville.
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