If the Tennessee Vols are going to be successful under Josh Heupel, the program will need to keep elite in-state talent at home.

Previous coaching staffs at Tennessee struggled at times to keep elite players from leaving the state. The Vols watched in-state recruits like Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers, Jacoby Stevens, and Jacob Phillips eschew Tennessee for opportunities elsewhere.

Heupel understands the importance of landing elite in-state talent. It’s something he talked about a lot during his introductory press conference in January.

“The most important thing that we do is lock down our borders,” said Heupel. “We have to keep the kids inside of this state here.”

“A focus on recruiting in-state from me has got to transcend through our assistant coaching staff, but it’s also got to reside inside every Vol fan here inside the state of Tennessee,” added Heupel. “I say that meaning that everybody’s got to bring energy and passion, create and sustain a positive movement through everything that we’re doing to create the sustainable change we need to lock down the borders here with our recruits.”

One of the elite in-state players the Vols absolutely have to land is 2023 four-star wide receiver Adarius Redmond.

Redmond, 6-foot-1/180 lbs from Powell, TN, is ranked in 247Sports’ composite rankings as the No. 8 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 1 player in Tennessee. He’s also rated as the No. 58 overall player in the 2023 recruiting class.

The dynamic wide receiver is extremely talented, he grew up close to Tennessee, and he’s the cousin of former Vols basketball player Jordan Bowden.

There’s absolutely no reason Heupel and the Volunteers should miss on Redmond. If he goes to another school, it would be a crushing loss for Tennessee.

Fortunately for the Vols, it sounds like Redmond is high on UT.

“I like all of them equally, but when I got that Tennessee offer, I was very shocked because I’m in Knoxville,” said Redmond this week to VolQuest. “I was surprised and happy at the same time because it meant a lot to me and I grew up liking them since I grew up here. I watched them growing up because of my family.”

Alabama, Florida, and Georgia have also extended scholarship offers to Redmond, so the Vols are going to have plenty of work to do to land the talented wide receiver.

But this should be the Vols’ battle to lose.

Featured image via Rivals.com