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 In just year two, Josh Heupel and his staff have the entire country abuzz about the Vols in the College Football Playoff race and the recruiting world. With Tennessee hosting Alabama in the biggest game of the season yet, the recruits were rushing to be in attendance. The recruits on visit this weekend had a lot to say about their experience in Knoxville!

The Vols made a move with fast-rising defensive back Tyler Scott this weekend and he had a lot of positive things to say about the environment in Knoxville. "It was the best game I've ever been to in college football. The best part is when we got to rush the field!"

4-star EDGE commit and top in-state recruit Caleb Herring described the newfound confidence around the program. "This weekend was unreal. I went into the game knowing the Vols were going to win, but I also knew it wasn't going to be easy. Everything was crazy! I ran onto the field and made eye contact with Coach Ekeler and we celebrated together. He accidentally head-butted my nose and gave me a blurry nose but it was worth it. This weekend was one to remember!"

While it was a big day for the 2023 class, the underclassmen might've been the class most impacted. Several underclassmen recruits have Tennessee high on their list coming out of the weekend.

“It was epic!! The best game we’ve ever been to for sure!! Jonathan and I believed in this program before the hype! It’s just the beginning!” said Lashon Echols, who accompanied 5-star tight end commit Jonathan Echols on his visit.

High-profile athlete Jonathan Paylor said his experience was "out of this world!" Another 2024 athlete, Mekhai White added, "It was an amazing experience!! The best visit I've been on by far!! Tennessee is definitely one of my top schools!! The energy in Neyland Stadium is unmatched!" Tennessee has put themselves in a position to be at the top of both recruitments following their visit.

Some other 2024 recruits that Tennessee is in a good spot with include Marcus Goree Jr., Boo Carter, Kaleb Beasley, and Edwin Spillman. "It was unreal, I've never been to a game like that before and Tennessee fans are just different!," said Goree Jr.

Boo Carter added, "A great performance like that would lead them to the national championship! The players played together as a team and never gave up whenever Bama was coming back. Coach Heupel and the staff found Bama's weakness and started to move the ball down the field! The defense was holding them down. There were some mistakes but when it can down to a big stop the defense stopped them! For the past 20 years, Bama has beaten Tennessee, but after yesterday's game they have made history!"

There was a lot of buzz about Lipscomb Academy teammates Kaleb Beasley and Edwin Spillman coming out of the weekend, and that proved to be warranted. Kaleb Beasley committed to the Vols following a victory on Friday night. Spillman also noted that, "This program is changing and I could be a part of the change."

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Aug 27, 2022; Alabaster, AL, USA; Lipscomb Academy cornerback Kaleb Beasley (1) enjoys a moment of glory on the sideline after returning a fumble 99 yards for a touchdown at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Ala., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. Lipscomb Academy defeated Thompson 24-14.

2024 running back Micah Welch had a lot of positive things to say about the Vols. "My visit was great, one of the best I have ever been a part of! The performance the Vols had told me that the staff and Heupel are doing a great job preparing the guys for every game. I love the tempo the offense brings and the Vols have an amazing offensive line! Credit to coach [running backs coach Jerry] Mack and Coach Walt with the backs as well! The fan base was amazing and very loud. Loved everything about the visit!"

Wide receiver target Brandon Winton added, "The atmosphere was crazy! I love what Coach [Josh] Heupel and Coach [Alex] Golesh are doing with the offense. Coach [Kelsey] Pope also does an amazing job with the WR group and it showed Saturday."

5 star 2025 tight end/edge rusher Elyiss Williams had a lot of positive things to say. "Neyland was insane! The environment was crazy! Tennessee is back!! How they came out quick and fast and got on Bama was impressive. I talked to Coach Heupel about how the season was going and he told me to enjoy the night."

2025 Quarterback Tavien St. Clair continues to be impressed by what the Vols are doing. "I could not have asked for a better experience, Rocky Top was electric and the game was super intense. Tennessee is back and after that visit, it definitely made a strong statement with some of the top teams."

Several young in-state recruits had positive things to say following their trip to Knoxville.

One of the top quarterbacks in the 2025 cycle, George MacIntyre, is excited about the future under Heupel. "It was incredible. The craziest environment I've ever been in. UTK is back and that's easy to see as an in-state kid!"

Priority 2025 athlete target Martels Carter Jr. said, "It was crazy being at a game where they made history. It was amazing being on the field at the end of the game. It's something I will never forget!"

Shavar Young, who is turning into one of the better players in the nation in the 2026 class, is someone the Vols are trying to get in with early. Young was impressed by the electric atmosphere in Knoxville for The Third Saturday in October. "The atmosphere was crazy. The stadium was electric. I had a chance to speak with coach Pope and coach Cook before the game."

All in all, the environment during the victory over Alabama helped put Tennessee in a good spot with a lot of high school talent. As the Vols keep becoming the trendy school of college football, more high-profile recruits will take notice to keep them in the College Football Playoff race long-term. The long-awaited victory over Alabama has sped up that timeline dramatically and Josh Heupel is taking advantage of it on the recruiting trail.