KNOXVILLE — Just one day before the Big Orange Caravan began its tour of the region with Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer and football coach Jeremy Pruitt on board last month to drum up fan support, one internet headline might have raised some fans' eyebrows.
"Tennessee Volunteers continue to struggle on the recruiting trail," read the headline on Gridironnow.com.
The article pointed out that the Vols at the time had just five verbal commitments for the 2019 recruiting class, which put them 10th in the Southeastern Conference.
Just more than a month later, momentum is building for Tennessee on the recruiting trail.
The commitments of defensive backs Aaron Beasley and Anthony Harris last week brought the Vols to 10 commitments for the 2019 class. Half of them have a four-star rating or better, according to 247Sports and Rivals.
"I think the most important thing is you're trying to find good people," Pruitt told the "Swain Event" radio show in Knoxville last week. "We want to recruit good people. Obviously, we want to recruit the best football players we can find. But we want to find guys that are hungry that are willing to work that they know there's going to be more to life than just football. They want to get a degree. They're willing to sacrifice. They're good teammates. I think that kind of sums it up."
Several more prospects have been on the Tennessee campus this week for the program's high school prospect camp, which will be followed by this weekend's 7-on-7 tournament for high school teams.
Tennessee's 2019 recruiting class stands at 16th nationally and sixth in the SEC, according to Rivals. According to 247Sports, the class now is 15th nationally and seventh in the SEC.
Just over six months remain until December's early signing period for the class of 2019, and the Vols remain in contention for one of the nation's most highly touted players. Top-rated offensive tackle Darnell Wright of Huntington, West Virginia, has been to Tennessee's campus twice since Pruitt and his staff arrived in Knoxville.
But Pruitt and his staff are not relying just on internet rankings and mythical "stars" to hone in on high school talent. Before the Big Orange Caravan stop May 17 in Nashville, Pruitt was asked his thoughts on how recruiting was going.
Tennessee had received a commitment from four-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton the day prior. The first-year coach responded that he believed his staff was "doing a really good job of evaluating."
"I think they're working hard at what they're trying to get done," Pruitt said. "We have a plan, and I think our guys, they're doing a good job of accomplishing what we want to get done."
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.