The Tennessee Vols landed at the top of an important list this week and it could mean that top-five recruiting classes are on the way to Rocky Top. ranked the top 20 most ambitious NIL (name, image, and likeness) collectives and they have Spyre Sports, which is associated with Tennessee, at No. 1.


No collective to date has pushed the envelope more – or been bolder and more ambitious – than this Tennessee-centric collective. Spyre Sports Group is the clear No. 1. As one industry source said, “Spyre is not messing around. They are big spenders and are smart about it.”

Spyre is also not shy about publicizing its grand vision, putting figures behind its ambition. Spyre president and co-founder Hunter Baddour said the collective is aiming to generate at least $25 million annually. The money would be put into the pockets of student-athletes (or recruits). In an ultra-competitive landscape in the SEC, this could help lure an increasing number of five-star prospects to Knoxville.

Baddour didn’t mince words to The Athletic: “We realized being involved in recruiting was going to be a priority. Then we realized how much money we were going to need to be elite. And we’re shooting to be No. 1.”

The state of Tennessee also relaxed its state NIL law to create a friendlier landscape for NIL collectives. That gives Spyre more room to create NIL deals with.

Tennessee Vols
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) runs the ball down the field as Pittsburgh linebacker Cam Bright (38) chases during a game against Pittsburgh at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.
Kns Tennessee Pittsburgh Football

I know a lot of folks don’t love the new landscape of college football, but this is the new reality of the sport.

The teams that win in recruiting will still be the teams that are winning on Saturdays. But the financial aspect is extremely important. And these collectives could be the difference in a kid going to Tennessee instead of going to Auburn or Florida.

The Vols are in a good spot thanks to Spyre. And with the Jeremy Pruitt/NCAA recruiting investigation almost entirely in the rear view mirror, Spyre should be able to soon help the Vols in recruiting without any restraints (Tennessee’s been cautious as they try to wrap up the investigation).

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports