Since being extended an offer from Tennessee Football, 2025 linebacker Elijah Melendez has felt like a priority. The feeling continued during his most recent trip to Knoxville.
Analysts Danny O’Rourke and Forrest Lehman have been the most involved in the four-star prospect’s recruitment but his trip for the camp last week meant spending a lot of time with linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary.
Jean-Mary stopped by Melendez’s high school, Osceola (Fla.) High School, to talk with the linebacker. Melendez also talks on the phone often with the coaches.
“BJ was just putting me through workouts to feel the way that he coaches, I really liked it,” Melendez told OTH. “We went through a lot of drills and went see the locker room.
“Coach BJ is a really good coach. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s a great recruiter. I learned a lot, so fast.”
Jean-Mary also spent a lot of time with Melendez watching film. The pair spent an hour and a half dissecting film. The Vols see 6-foot-2 and 225-pound Melendez as a good linebacker at the Mike-Will combo spot.
“It just felt like I was wanted and it felt like he believes in me,” Melendez said. “It just felt really good and like they had a lot of interest in me. It just felt like home.
“He didn’t just tell me everything I wanted to hear, he sat down with me and taught me things and coached me up watching film. That was just amazing, I just want to be the very best football player I can be and get developed. It just felt like this is where I could get developed to be the best I could be.”
Melendez, who ranks as the No. 255 prospect and the No. 29 linebacker in the 2025 class according to 247Sports Composite, also got to spend some time with Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel.
The pair didn’t talk much football, but they started building a relationship.
“We didn’t really talk too much football, just that he liked my size and we just hang out really and had a good time,” Melendez said. “We played against each other in golf, he has like a golf putting thing outside his office and we played each other. It was really just building a relationship with him.”
During his trip, his first to Tennessee, Melendez also got to meet up with some current linebackers. The message was clear.
“The people on the coaching staff. It’s a really good coaching staff and they’re all great people,” Melendez said. “The facilities are really nice and they’re adding on to it. Any player that I saw that go there say they really love it.”
Melendez has a busy summer ahead of him. He plans to camp with UCF, Auburn, Kentucky, Alabama, Texas A&M Oklahoma and Arkansas in June. With all the trips planned, Tennessee Football has established themselves as one of the top schools to Melendez.
“I think it’s amazing,” he said. “They just made me feel like family instantly. Tennessee is in my top two right now. Tennessee is definitely at the top right now. It was just an amazing visit.”