After a couple of seasons of huge, depth-building recruiting classes, the Tennessee football team should take a slimmer haul of prospects during the 2016 cycle.
They'll look to address some major needs and depth at other positions in a class that will likely fall far short of the allotted 25 thanks to classes of 32 and 29 in the past two years.
Even so, the battle for some of the Southeast's top prospects will heat up with the weather, and it appears that UT is in more than its share of neck-and-neck heats. Tennessee looks like it's focusing on three major battlegrounds this year, and all three—in-state, Georgia and North Carolina—are represented here.
With so many slots to fill at this time of year, any list like this is subjective, but a clearer picture of top targets is emerging.
If the Vols can land some of these guys, they'll be on their way to another strong class.
Some positions such as running back, safety, wide receiver and offensive tackle still need impact players. Others, like defensive end and linebacker, are areas where the Vols have healthy depth but are chasing top prospects.
UT is going head-to-head with some of the nation's top programs for these players, but coach Butch Jones has proven over and over that he's a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail, so these next few months should be fun.
Let's take a look at some of the Vols' top targets at this point in the 2016 cycle.
It was a solid NFL draft weekend for the Georgia Bulldogs, as they had five players selected in the draft ceremony in Chicago. Todd Gurley, Chris Conley, Ramik Wilson, Damian Swann and Amarlo Herrera did great things for the Bulldogs during their careers, and they look to do the same thing on Sundays.
Now the Bulldogs have to move forward and replace the players who have gone on to do bigger and better things. Some of the players who will take the place of the draftees have more than enough experience, while there are others that have seen some playing time, but the starting role will be very new to them in 2015.
So here’s a look at the players who are replacing every former Bulldog taken in the 2015 NFL draft.
The Texas Longhorns had five players selected in the 2015 NFL draft, their most since 2010. Per SB Nation's Jason Kirk, that figure also tied them for the sixth-most selections of any college program.
On the flip side of that coin, the Horns now have to replace five pro-level talents, most of whom had unique and essential roles on the team. First-rounder Malcom Brown will be the toughest to replace, though his fellow selections each had key roles as well.
As the Horns cycle in a big crop of young talent, their ability to plug guys into multiple roles diminishes. You simply can't trust a freshman or a former backup to handle being moved all over the field.
That said, it's difficult to predict how each player's production will be replaced beyond simply filling open roles.
Urban Meyer and Ohio State have been on an absolute recruiting tear over the last two months.
Since the start of spring practice in early March, the Buckeyes have gained commitments from 10 prospects for their 2016 and 2017 classes. Two of those verbal pledges came last week when 4-star offensive tackle Michael Jordan and Drue Chrisman—the nation's No. 1 punter—announced their commitment to Ohio State.
On top of that, the Buckeyes' coaching staff spent a lot of time on the road targeting new players. In fact, Ohio State offered seven new prospects last week, equaling the total number of offers it had sent out in the previous four weeks combined.
Here's a look at the Buckeyes' new targets.
Kyle Davis, 4-Star Wide Receiver (2016)
After losing Justin Layne to Michigan State two weeks ago, Ohio State has really picked up its pursuit of top-flight wide receivers. The Buckeyes recently got in the mix for 4-star Javon McKinley, and last week, they re-engaged 5-star Nate Craig-Myers, who decommitted from Auburn on Wednesday.
They also offered current South Carolina commit Kyle Davis.
The standout from Lawrenceville, Georgia, is a 4-star prospect and the No. 58 overall recruit in the country. And even though he has already committed to the Gamecocks, schools haven't let up in his recruitment, as Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and Texas A&M have all offered in the last two months in addition to the Buckeyes.
Rated the No. 5 wide receiver in the country, Davis doesn't have elite speed, running a reported 4.64 40-yard dash. But at 6'3" and 212 pounds, he brings a physicality to the receiver position that sets him apart. He isn't afraid to lower his shoulder and go through a defender, and he's athletic enough—possessing a 48-inch vertical jump—to catch the ball in traffic.
It'll be very hard for Ohio State to pull Davis from the SEC footprint, though, as it appears his commitment to Steve Spurrier is solid.
Jeffrey Okudah, 5-Star Safety (2017)
Ohio State dedicated the rest of its attention to its 2017 class, and the star of the group who was offered last week was Jeffrey Okudah.
Rated a 5-star prospect out of Grand Prairie, Texas, Okudah is one of the most sought-after recruits for 2017, already boasting 28 offers from Division I programs. That group is highlighted by Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and USC, but the home-state Baylor Bears are the current leader for his services.
Can the Buckeyes change that?
Meyer and his staff have had success recruiting in the Lone Star State in recent years, pulling players such as Demetrius Knox, Dontre Wilson and J.T. Barrett to Columbus. But those were players who were recruited by Tom Herman, who has strong ties to Texas.
But that's why Meyer replaced Herman with Tim Beck, who held the same position at Nebraska and recruited Texas frequently for Bo Pelini.
Beck's ability to recruit the talent-rich state became immediately apparent when Tristen Wallace, a 4-star quarterback from DeSoto, Texas, announced his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes' '16 class.
Ohio State is hoping Beck can work his magic again.
Micah Clark, 4-Star Offensive Tackle (2017)
Micah Clark headlined a trio of New Jersey prospects the Buckeyes offered last week.
A 6'5", 265-pound offensive tackle, Clark looks more like a collegiate sophomore than he does a teenager preparing for his junior year of high school. His incredible build—paired with a surprising athleticism—has helped him land offers from Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Michigan and Michigan State.
But checking in as the No. 68 recruit nationally and the No. 10 offensive tackle overall, more schools will certainly be throwing their hat in the ring.
The Buckeyes can pitch a unique vision to Clark, though. Meyer has already secured a commitment from the nation's top offensive tackle commit for 2017 in 5-star Josh Myers, and if he can convince Clark to join the ranks, that could be the foundation for one of college football's best offensive lines.
Other Offers from the Week
Fred Hansard, 4-Star Defensive Tackle (2017)
Jerry Jeudy, 4-Star Wide Receiver (2017)
Dalyn Wade-Perry, 4-Star Defensive Tackle (2017)
Tony Gray, 4-Star Offensive Tackle (2017)
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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