Josh Heupel, in just his second year at the helm, has turned Tennessee football into a recruiting powerhouse. The Vols’ 2023 recruiting class is currently ranked ninth in the nation. Their class sits fourth in the SEC behind Alabama, Georgia, and LSU.
Heupel has proven his recruiting prowess, picking up players like five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava and four-star defensive lineman Daevin Hobbs.
When Cooper Mays pledged his commitment to Tennessee football, the program was in a rough spot. As a hometown kid, he didn’t care where the Vols were at.
“When I committed that year, we finished out the season 8-1, so it looked like things were kind of on the up and up,” Mays told Off The Hook Sports. “So I kind of felt like we were getting back to that point where we built again. So it wasn’t that big for me. I think a big thing for me was that it was close to home and to see my brother and everything, plus Pruitt and that whole staff loved me from the second they got to Knoxville, like they never wavered.”
Although people in Knoxville aren’t very fond of Jeremy Pruitt, his relationship and non-stop support landed Mays in the Orange & White.
“I was really small and Pruitt and them never wavered on their supporting of me,” Mays said. “They always recruited me very heavily, really hard and they always believed in who I was as a player and what I could do.”
Heupel’s recruiting skill made national headlines on Wednesday when four-star prospect Arion Carter committed to Tennessee football. Carter seemed like he was leaning towards Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, but he ended up as a Vol.
The Vols’ 2022 success definitely caught many prospects’ eyes.
“Just prolonging success and the more success you have, people just want to be a part of it,” Mays said.
For SEC schools to find success, recruiting in-state has to be a priority. Heupel has shown he can succeed in recruiting the Tri-Star State.
Heupel has landed the No. 1 recruit in the state of Tennessee in Caleb Herring, as well as the No. 2 recruit in the state in Carter.
Heupel has put an even bigger emphasis on in-state recruiting for the 2024 class. He is going after guys like Boo Carter, a four-star prospect out of Chattanooga.
Mays is not surprised by Heupel’s in-state success, and makes a call for more prospects to join the Vols.
“If you look at what we’re doing right now, it’s something pretty special,” Mays said. “If you’re in this state and you don’t want to be part of it. Probably you didn’t want to be here from the beginning because I don’t know how you could really turn it down being a home-state kid and if you had the opportunity to come here, you should probably come here. I think all around the country Tennessee is a great place to be. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t you know, be in big time.”