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  • Tyler Harden

Tennessee commits talk Coach Josh Heupel and the rise of the program after a win against Alabama

Players (Top to Bottom): Chandavian Bradley, Caleb Herring, Jordan Matthews

The Tennessee Volunteers have taken the college football world by storm. From their electric offense led by quarterback, Hendon Hooker, to knocking off Alabama in what most might say the “Game of the Year,” the Tennessee football program is turning itself around. But what Coach Josh Heupel has built in Knoxville looks to have long-term effects.

The Volunteers currently hold the No. 10 ranked recruiting class in the Class of 2023 recruiting rankings, according to 247sports. In the last two seasons, Tennessee finished outside the Top 20.

Tennessee’s commits in the Class of 2023 see the impact Coach Heupel has had on the program, they trust in him, and they want to be a part of the rise of the Volunteers.

“It’s amazing to see what he [Coach Heupel] has done in the last two seasons,” Four-star edge rusher and Tennessee commit, Caleb Herring, said. “He brought the success that he’s had at UCF [University of Central Florida] over to UT [University of Tennessee] and it’s crazy to see how fast he’s turned this program around.”

Coach Heupel’s impact at Tennessee branches beyond what’s seen on the field. He and his staff are able to connect with recruits as people, and the staff brings a family-like atmosphere when recruits come to campus.

“From the first visit, from the first day I went, it just felt like we knew each other for so many years,” Four-star cornerback and Tennessee commit, Jordan Matthews, said. “We bonded, we clicked so fast, and it just felt like family.”

Against Alabama, over 100,000 fans packed Neyland Stadium in Knoxville Saturday afternoon. In an atmosphere unlike many in college football, commits in Tennessee’s class also love that extra perk that comes with playing for a red-hot team.

“Everything is so amazing in Tennessee,” Four-star edge rusher and Tennessee commit, Chandavian Bradley, said. “I love Knoxville. It’s the best city in the country.”

The 2023 class for Tennessee is led by five-star quarterback, Nico Iamaleava, who plays at Warren High School in California. With Hendon Hooker making as much noise as he is at the quarterback position for Tennessee, Volunteer fans are itching for Iamaleava, who is ranked as the No. 2 quarterback in the country and has a $1.1 million NIL-valuation according to, to arrive on campus and make a similar impact.

Along with Bradley, Herring, and Matthews, the Volunteers add eight four stars. These include athlete, Cameron Seldon, tight end, Ethan Davis, safety, Sylvester Smith, wide receiver, Nathan Leacock, offensive tackle, Shamarad Umarov, defensive lineman, Tyree Weathersby, athlete, Trevor Duncan, and cornerback, Rickey Gibson.

“We just add more depth and skill to the lineup and coaching that’s really good,” Bradley said. “We will just improve everything I feel like.”

Tennessee’s 2023 class also adds nine three stars in linebacker, Jalen Smith, edge rusher, Nathan Robinson, cornerback, Cristian Conyer, safety, John Slaughter, offensive tackle, Ayden Bussell, linebacker, Jeremiah Telander, safety, Jack Luttrell, running back, Will Stallings, and wide receiver, Nate Spillman.

It’s safe to say Tennessee doesn’t plan on falling in the college football landscape, and that the Volunteers are going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Volunteer fans should first thank Coach Josh Heupel, his staff, and the players in the program that started the trend in trusting him.

“He’s put together an amazing staff, and everything has come together,” Herring said. “It’s crazy to think we’re nowhere near close to where we’re going to be.”

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