The Tennessee Vols are experiencing some impressive recruiting results right now under head coach Josh Heupel.

Tennessee currently has nine players committed to its 2023 recruiting class, which is ranked No. 9 in the nation.

The Vols are also in the mix for numerous other top recruits, including four-star wide receiver Carnell Tate.

One of Tennessee’s 2023 commits — three-star offensive tackle Ayden Bussell — spoke to VolQuest this week about the Vols’ recruiting efforts under Heupel.

And Bussell said something that should definitely excite UT fans.

Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel reacts to a call in overtime at the 2021 Music City Bowl NCAA college football game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.
Kns Tennessee Purdue

Bussell suggested that Tennessee is at a point right now where the program can basically pick and choose (within reason) the in-state recruits they want.

“For a long time, you haven’t really seen Tennessee winning the state for big recruits,” said Bussell. “But now we’ve got multiple guys who are in the top-10 or top-15 for in-state recruits. We are getting them now. It’s the guys we want and the coaches have hand-picked these guys.”

“They are actually getting to pick and choose who they want at this point and that’s what we really need,” added Bussell.

The Vols already have a commitment from the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee (four-star edge rusher Caleb Herring). UT is also in the mix for Brycen Sanders, the No. 6 overall player in Tennessee.

It’s important to remember that Heupel and his staff won’t have the same evaluations as the recruiting services. There might be some players the Vols pass on because they don’t have those players graded the same way. Or they might not be good scheme fits.

Bussell, for example, is rated in 247Sports’ composite rankings as the No. 24 player in the state. But Tennessee clearly believes he can make an impact for the Vols regardless of his rating.

Tennessee has a lot of momentum right now in recruiting — both inside and outside of the state.

The Vols are moving in the right direction under Heupel. They just need to keep their foot on the gas and continue adding talent. If they do that, they’ll be relevant in the SEC East division title race sooner than most folks expected.

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