For the longest time, the Tar Heels have been the talk of this 2021 class with the surprise success that has led them to the No. 2 class in the cycle. However, over the past week, it has been the Tennessee Volunteers that have received the majority of the attention, as they have landed seven commitments in the last week. This surge has clearly made a major impact on some of the Tar Heels top remaining targets and could lead to a lot of interesting battles down the stretch for some extremely talented prospects.
One of the first battles could conclude this afternoon, as it seems likely that 2021 3✮ OT Colby Smith will make his decision at that time. Smith posted on social media on Sunday telling people to stay tuned for something this afternoon. With his top five having been released back on April 16th, it seems likely that this will be a commitment. While the Tar Heels may have had some early momentum with him, it appears now that Tennessee will take a significant lead into his predicted commitment tomorrow.
Two of South Carolina’s top prospects that just recently narrowed their lists down have both Carolina and Tennessee amongst their lists and both seem to still have a decent chance with both prospects. 2021 3✮ DT Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins released his top thirteen last week with both a part of it. While the Tar Heels have quietly hung around in this recruitment, the Volunteers have made a nice push to put them in the running for his commitment. Meanwhile, 2021 3✮ WR J.J. Jones is down to his final five and while Tennessee made a nice push to crack the list, the Tar Heels have established a strong relationship with the Myrtle Beach product and have a legitimate chance to make him the third wide receiver in this class. The biggest obstacle standing in the way in both cases will be the in-state South Carolina Gamecocks, but the momentum for both of these schools is definitely playing a factor in these recruitments.
The most interesting battles between the two, though, may be with the recruitments of 2021 4✮ SDE Jahvaree Ritzie and fellow 4✮ DT Payton Page. Two of the best players in the state of North Carolina, both players are likely to commit before the summer is over and the Tar Heels have been long time factors in both recruitments. Tennessee has made their presence felt, though, recently with each of these two guys, something that is beginning to concern Tar Heel fans. With Page, Tar Heels fans seem to have come to the realization that Clemson is still a strong favorite and that both the Heels and Volunteers will have their work cut out for them. The bigger concern is with Ritzie, a player that is seen as a key piece for many different reasons. Not only have the Tar Heels had Ritzie on the verge of a commitment for the past couple of months, he is a teammate of one of the top players that is already committed in this class and would be a phenomenal vocal presence to help recruit other top talent wherever he goes. The Tar Heels still hold the edge over the Volunteers in this one right now, but the success that the Volunteers are having is definitely being noticed by Ritzie.
Don’t get me wrong, the Tar Heels 2021 class is still in phenomenal shape and will likely finish up as the best in school history. However, Tennessee’s push is not something that can be ignored, especially when it is starting to have an effect on one of, if not your top remaining target.