Vols get 8 commitments in one day, including 3 from Midstate

La Vergne wide receiver Princeton Fant.

La Vergne wide receiver Princeton Fant.

Alontae Taylor of Coffee County.

Alontae Taylor of Coffee County.

Overton's Theo Jackson (left) makes a play.

Overton’s Theo Jackson (left) makes a play.

Tennessee’s Big Orange Carpet Day had a Midstate feel to it Saturday in Knoxville.

Three of the Vols’ eight commitments were from Middle Tennessee high schools. The trio includes La Vergne’s Princeton Fant, Overton’s Theo Jackson and Coffee County’s Alontae Taylor.

Fant and Jackson are seniors and will be part of the Class of 2017. Taylor is a junior and will be part of the Class of 2018.

Big Orange Carpet Day is an annual event for the Vols, who invite some of their top recruits. All eight who committed Saturday attended the event.

Fant is the second from La Vergne to commit to Tennessee, joining four-star prospect Maleik Gray, who committed six days earlier.

“Our program is always fighting for that respect,” said La Vergne coach Stanton Stevens on what it means to have two players committed to an SEC school. “Look, we’re in Rutherford County, too. We play good football. This is a validation of that.”

Commitments are non-binding for the athlete and the school. Senior athletes cannot sign until Feb. 1, 2017. Taylor cannot sign until February 2018.

Other Tennessee commitments according to 247Sports were Hardin County defensive end LaTrell Bumphus, North Augusta (S.C.) defensive end Tre Lawson, West Monroe (La.) running back Trey Coleman, Roswell (Ga.) offensive lineman Jordan Tucker and Newton (Ga.) linebacker Jaquan Henderson.

Fant, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver, had multiple offers. He is the 17th overall prospect in the state according to 247Sports.

Fant sat out his junior year after sustaining a knee injury. He caught 14 passes for 326 yards in 2014.

Fant may end up playing on defense, Stevens said.

“I think he could put on 10 to 15 pounds fairly quickly up there,” he said. “He’s been as heavy as 215. I think he’ll get big and he will grow out of receiver and end up at safety.

“He’s a physical guy. He runs after a catch like a running back and tackles like you want a big-time safety to tackle.”

Jackson (6-3, 185) will play in the defensive backfield and at quarterback for the Bobcats this fall.

“It’s kind of ironic. He reminds me of (former Blackman standout and Tennessee receiver) Jauan Jennings,” said Overton coach Steve Williams, who was a former defensive coordinator at Blackman. “He’s a dynamic quarterback for us that we will have to spell some.”

Jackson had 20 offers and is the 12th-ranked prospect in the state according to 247Sports. He had 33 stops with three interceptions at safety while pulling in 18 catches for 232 yards and five TDs.

Taylor originally committed to Vanderbilt before decommitting last month.

“We hammered Alontae when he said he wanted to commit,” said Coffee County coach Ryan Sulkowski. “We put him through the ringer because we wanted to make sure this was the one that was going to stick.

“When we asked him why Tennessee he said, ‘Coach, I get goosebumps when I pull into Knoxville. That’s before I get into campus.’”

Taylor (6-0, 180) was recruited as a wide receiver for the Vols, Sulkowski said.

“He is such an explosive player with the ball in his hands,” Sulkowski said. “He enjoys carrying the ball. He’s still a little raw running routes.”

Bumphus (6-3, 230) is the 14th-ranked prospect in Tennessee according to 247Sports. Lawson (6-6, 247) is the eighth-ranked prospect in South Carolina. Coleman (5-11, 203) is the 44th-rated prospect in Louisiana. Henderson (6-1, 205)  is the 44th-ranked prospect in Georgia, and Tucker (6-6, 330) is 66th.

Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.

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