Posted: 1-12-2018, 11:08:52 AM
Welcome to Friday. YUUUUUUUUUUGE Weekend and we've got you covered!!!

Tennessee Hoops, Football recruiting & The NFL playoffs take center stage.

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Random musings and short shots as we welcome our Basketball Vols back from a triumphant trip to Nashville and our new head football coach back to his real job.

THE UT BASKETBALL TEAM continued its recent trend of playing lights out in the second half as Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield delivered a beatdown of the Commodores. We don't care how bad this Vandy team is ... winning in that old building is always special. The practical benefit of the win evened the Big Orange's SEC record at 2-2 and now the snakebit Texas Aggies come calling at The Thom tomorrow night.

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A&M HAS HAD A CRAZY season so far. The Aggies had a strong 11-1 non-conference campaign and beat West Virginia soundly. Injuries and suspensions derailed the team before SEC play started. An 0-4 league start has Billy Kennedy's team in almost a must-win situation against the Vols. The Ags have talent and size, and we look forward to a very good game to watch.

RICK BARNES' TEAM'S little two-game hiccup at the start of league play hasn't dampened their rating on the national scene. has the Vols 15th in the nation, Kentucky #21, A&M #22, Florida #23 and the surprising Auburn team at 25th. Joe Lunardi has eight SEC teams in his current bracket. We disagree with Kentucky being a #4 seed and the Vols #5. Tennessee looked like the better team a week ago.

HC JEREMY PRUITT briefed the media on Wednesday and opened the door for the return of WR Jauan Jennings. We're sure JJ will be on a short leash if he gets another chance ... Still no word on a WR coach ... Tyler Byrd is now identifying himself as a DB on twitter. If true, two years later than it should have been but JP is certain to build his defense first ... Seven early enrollees are on campus beginning school but DL Kingston "Pike" Harris has hit a snag and might have to wait until summer. Hearing that QB Quenten Dormady will not be healthy enough to participate in spring football, but he is in school.

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I spent the past couple of weeks fawning all over Jeremy Pruitt and rightfully so, but I'd be remiss if I didn't pause to give some love today to Rick Barnes and his staff.

Those guys have done a GREAT job this year with this Tennessee team in positioning them as a sure fire NCAA Tournament team this year.

If you've been exposed to me, you know that I'm not a big fan of BarnesÊ» recruiting, but that's not what this season is about. Barnes and his guys are developing players.

Look at a guy like Jordan Bone. You can see that young guy turning the corner.

The past couple of games Barnes and staff have done a tremendous job of adjusting at the half and really put the clamps on a couple of usually well coached teams.

Versus Kentucky, Tennessee came out with more energy and a different defensive plan. Plus Rick Barnes did a masterful job of exploiting the mishap with Grant Williams to Tennessee's full advantage. First of all Barnes took control of the game by slowing the whole situation down. Kentucky was never the same after this happened. The reason this is worth pointing out is that when Grant Williams was reinserted into the game he was able to free wheel without fear of collecting fouls from the referees. They had been worked and it was beautiful.

In the Vandy game Tennessee made stellar adjustments at halftime including running plays immediately for Jordan Bowden. The Carter product only had one shot attempt in the first half but less than 2 minutes into the second half he had 8 quick points. That's called by design. That's some damn good coaching there.

Barnes faced an 0-2 start in the SEC that could've been 0-4. Tennessee trailed Kentucky and Vandy by a combined 18 points at the half but managed to pull out both games rather easily. Now Tennessee has 0-5 A&M in Thompson-Boling Arena. It easily could've been a battle between 2 teams looking for their first win in the SEC were it not for Rick Barnes and the deft coaching of his staff.

This is certainly worth pointing out. If you're me and you're going to have credibility when discussing this, you must point out the positives in UT hoops under Rick Barnes. He does a damn great job coaching his kids and getting them to buy in. For this reason, the rest of 2018 sets up to be both compelling and successful. Yeah, this is getting good. Great job Rick Barnes and staff.

Griffin’s 3 Pointers
Griffin’s 3 Pointers - Texas A&M

1. Full team is back in place - Don’t be fooled by their overall record for A&M is now full strength and will be motivated to gain their first SEC win after losing their first 4! Texas A&M was selected 3rd in the Pre-Season by the media.

2. As A Team- 11-5 (0-4 SEC) with notable wins against West Virginia 88-65, USC 75-59 and losses to Texas 69-73, Arizona 64-67, and most recently to Kentucky 73-74. Texas A&M is averaging 77.7 points per game and lead the SEC in rebounding with 43.1 a game. For UT to be successful, they will have to continue to hit the boards and block out for will be much smaller than their opponent on Saturday.

3. Who To Look Out For - Robert Williams 6’10 Sophomore with 7’4” wingspan and projected #16th pick in NBA. Averaging 24.7 minutes a game, 56.8 Field Goal % (42-74), 46.2 Free Throw % (12-26), 9.8 Rebounds a game- leads team and SEC, 27 Blocks (2.2)- leads team and 2nd SEC, and averages 8.7 Points per game. Williams was selected pre-season All-SEC First Team.

'X' Says
Well..... another dead period has come and gone. Welcome to the the annual sprint to National Signing Day 2018. Signing Day is pushed back a bit this year in that 4 full visit weekends remain until the first Wednesday in February. Even with an early signing period, there is still work to be done to close out the remaining spots in Tennessee’s 2018 class. As Coach Pruitt said Wednesday in his press conference, 14 spots in the 2018 class have been filled. Therefore, between 10 and 12 scholarships remain to be filled. While the initial 14 spots have focused primarily on “line of scrimmage” prospects, I believe the balance of class will be comprised of potential impact play makers regardless of position AND I believe Tennessee is positioning itself to close out strong.

Coach Pruitt continued to put his stamp on the signing class even doing work for Alabama during the dead period. Last Saturday during the US Army All -American game, outside linebacker JJ Peterson from Moultrie, Georgia , verbally committed to Tennessee.

Listen, as fans we are all guilty of placing too high a level of expectations on an incoming player or a class for that matter. With that said, Peterson is one of those prospects that if he follows through and signs with Tennessee and barring injury , he is going to get every opportunity to contribute very early. Peterson is a top 100 prospect in the country. At the linebacker position , there are few prospects better than Peterson. If you watch his film, you will find it hard not to be impressed and a bit excited. Peterson is fast enough to chase down ball carriers and he is a violent tackler. Also, if you watch enough of his film, you may see him catching touchdown passes or returning kickoffs. Tennessee has apparently beat out Alabama for Peterson's commitment. Peterson is scheduled to be on campus for his official visit this weekend. He should be joined by the following prospects.

Wide Receiver Geordon Porter. 6'2"180 lb. from Etiwanda, California. Porter is the type of stretch the field wide receiver Tennessee has been searching for. Porter emerged from the early signing day as one of the most coveted unsigned wide receiver prospects in the country. He looks football fast in watching his film. Porter committed to Notre Dame early in the recruiting cycle but backed off the commitment. He has already taken 3 official visits during the fall will every expectation of signing during the early window . Tennessee will be his 4th official visit.

He will likely decide between Texas A&M, Florida, and Alabama for the final official visit. His earlier visits were to Utah, Notre Dame and Arizona St. I don't believe he is attending any of those schools. If Porter visit goes well, I think Tennessee jumps into the drivers seat for his commitment.

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Wide Receiver Warren Thompson. 6'5" 185 lbs, Seffner, Florida. Thompson is a top 100 prospect nationally and was committed to Oregon for the longest time. He decommitted and reopened his recruiting when Willie Taggart resigned as the head coach at Oregon and accepted the same position at Florida State. Most believe Thompson will follow Taggart to Florida State. However, Tennessee jumped into the mix and has snagged one of his official visits.

Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk 6'1" 190 lbs wide receiver , Sierra Junior College, California. Aiyuk is a bit of an unknown and is coming on an official visit without an offer. He was found and recruited by Coach Friend while coaching at his previous stop at Colorado State . Tennessee likes Aiyuk as a a slot receiver and a specialist (punt/kick receiver). Reportedly, Aiyuk has been timed at 4.2 in the 40 yards. If Tennessee were to offer Aiyuk, most believe he would end up being a VOL.

What to watch for !!!!! Tennessee is hosting three wide receiver prospects . That implies Tennessee should name its wide receiver coach no later than Friday morning, if not sooner, such that said wide receiver coach will be on the job and available to host kids this weekend. Front runners for the spot are David Johnson from Memphis; Dez Kitchings from NC State; or sitting assistant coach Brian Niedermeyer.

A huge need to complete this class is at defensive back. There is no secret Tennessee must upgrade the talent and athleticism at corner and safety. One of Tennessee’s top targets at defensive back will be visiting this weekend.

Eddie Smith from Slidell, Louisiana. Smith is a tall, long armed athlete who had been somewhat under the radar until recently. Smith, a three star prospect, whose film looks like anything but a three star prospect is a former TCU commitment. Smith was one of the first prospects Coach Pruitt connected with after he took the Tennessee job and immediately offered him a scholarship. Shortly after receiving the offer, Smith decommitted from TCU. Presumptively , I would call Tennessee his leader but TCU is trying to get back into the picture and Smith is planning to take visits to Alabama and Arkansas between this weekend and National Signing Day. Smith is a very good prospect and one that Tennessee has a legitimate shot with.

C-Bo Flemister, running back/athlete, Zebulon , Georgia. Flemister is committed to Georgia Tech and was all set to sign with Tech during the early signing period. Coach Pruitt offered Flemister a scholarship and asked him to hold off signing to give Tennessee a chance to recruit him during the late signing window. Flemister is relatively unknown. You watch his film you can't really tell if Flemister is simply the best athlete on the field or if he is that good. His film is that impressive in my opinion. Flemister is a good enough athlete to play running back or defensive back. I think he is down the list at both positions for Tennessee but you could see him contributing at either and on special teams.

Michael Williams, linebacker/athlete Baton Rouge. Louisiana. Williams is a jumbo athlete that is on the radar of the top schools in the country. The 6’2, 240-pounder has an interesting profile. He is not that highly rated by the recruiting services yet he holds offers from Texas, LSU, Alabama, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. He took an official visit to LSU in the early signing period but did not commit or sign with LSU. He will be in Knoxville this weekend and will likely take other visits. You watch his film and he is very impressive on both sides of the ball. My guess is he would be rated higher if the services could figure out what position he is best suited for in college. Tennessee is recruiting him as a linebacker /defensive end . With Peterson, a linebacker committed, Quay Walker high on Tennessee's board, and limited spots in the class, I wonder how high Williams is on Tennessee’s board.

Quay Walker, linebacker Crisp County High School (Cordele, Ga.). Walker is an intriguing prospect in many regards. He is a 4-star linebacker, the nation’s number 11 outside linebacker , and committed to Alabama . Last summer Walker chose Alabama over Auburn, Florida, LSU and South Carolina. He recently played in the Army All American game were he noted that he was going to open his recruitment and take visits to other SEC schools including Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Walker , though remains verbally committed to Alabama. His primary recruiters at Alabama were Coach Pruitt and Derrick Ansley. With Pruitt to Tennessee and the news that Ansley is joining the Oakland Raiders, Walker’s commitment to Alabama is tenuous at best. Walker fits a critical need for Tennessee. He is an outside linebacker type at 6'4" 220 lbs who can rush the quarterback. Walker’s recruitment is far from over. Georgia is targeting Walker for one of their last spots in their class and Florida is very interested in Walker as well. Don’t rule out Coach Saban taking over the recruitments and convincing him to sign with Alabama. No doubt though the team that lands Walker is landing a difference making prospect.


Many SEC schools got the lions share of their 2018 recruiting class filled out in the early signing period. By doing so, these schools can concentrate a portion of their efforts on a few 2018 prospects and the majority of their efforts on 2019 prospects. Not to be outdone, Tennessee is hosting double digit 2019 unofficial visitors this weekend. Prospects from the mid state and west Tennessee, Georgia, and the Virginias will be in town. More on the 2019 prospects in about a month.

I hate to take a shot at the former regime BUT Tennessee from a recruiting position is simply fishing in a different pond than 4 months ago. True, in August/September Tennessee had put together a top 5 recruiting class and the top recruiting class in the SEC. The foundation of the 2018 class still features prospects who remained true to Tennessee through the tough stretch. Coach Pruitt has made some tough decisions regarding committed prospects that don't fit his style while adding 6 to 7 new pieces to the class.

The balance of the class will be completed with prospects that could play for literally any school in the country and you see this as fact reflected in their visit lists. Don't get too concerned if Tennessee walks away from this weekend without any public commitments. This is high stakes recruiting . It will look and feel different . I expect the results to be far better than we have been accustomed to.

Visitors This Weekend: All Star LB's JJ Peterson and Quay Walker (Bama commit, top 100 player) both from GA. Talk about playing each other.

SEC Mike: 'Could Peterson be a day one starter? I don't know but he'll play a prominent role. High school coach called him a liability in coverage. 6-3 & 230 pounds. Could probably play wide receiver. Being fast enough to play coverages but understanding coverages.Ê»

Walker: Not going to Bama. Georgia is heavily involved. With Bama's Ainsley off to the Raiders, he's WIDE OPEN heading into the weekend.

Eddie Smith (from Louisiana) 3 star CB was committed to TCU.

WR Jordan Porter out of California (was heavily involved with Notre Dame)

C'Bo Flemister RB (Georgia Tech comitment) Tennessee probably likes him as a back of some kind.

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Brandon Aiyuk: As of now, no offer from Tennessee.

Mike Williams: Baton Rouge 6-2 250 Played QB in high school. Crazy great athlete. Massive guy...Probably play defense.

SEC Mike: Tennessee is desperate for athletes. They need to load up on guys like this. I could see this guy at MLB in the future. Huge run stuffing LB.

Five 2019 kids from Grayson, Georgia. 4 (four star) players and one from Powder Springs.

Owen Pappoe: 4 Star LB
Kenyatta Watson: 4 Star CB Formerly committed to FSU
Wanya Morris 4 Star OL Top 100 player
Ronald Thompkins: 3 Star RB

Jaylen McCollough: Safety 4 stars, (Powder Springs, Georgia)

Trey Knox: Blackman (Murfreesboro, TN) 4 star WR

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Adonis Otey: Blackman (Murfreesboro, TN) 4 Star CB

Darnell Wright: Huntington WV, 5 star OL. Tennessee will battle EVERYBODY for him.

SEC Mike: Elite recruiters do this. With new December signing period, elite recruiters are using these winter dates to get aggressive with rising seniors for next year. I love this love and it's a great sign.

(108) 4 stars & (19) 5 stars combined signed by this staff. This number doesn't account for the # of guys Brian Niedermeyer has been involved with.

John Brice is killing it at This is a GREAT piece on the first couple of weeks with Tennessee.


As I settled in to watch two of the Vols bitter rivals prepare to play for the National Championship of college football I really had no idea how to feel or who to pull for.....


-That had to be an excruciating loss for the Georgia faithful....


The Vols -as so often occurs- had no lack of energy or focus with Kentucky in the house last week. Had they approached the Auburn game with the same level of energy we would be right on schedule....


SHOW NOTE: Please join Geoff Brock; Phil Cooper; Sean Sinclair; Brian Hartman and I as we fill in for Tony on the show Friday. Let’s do another old-school Calhoun’s Saturday Conversation Reunion.


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This is my FAVORITE WEEKEND ON THE NFL Calendar. The NFL divisional round is the best weekend by far. The final 8 teams in the league. All the stars are out. Upsets generally occur. Anything is possible.

Tony NFL Picks:

Eagles: 24
Falcons 21

It's been 40 years since the Eagles lost the first Wildcard game in heartbreaking fashion in Atlanta. Tomorrow the Eagles get a do over. Nick Foles is good enough tomorrow for the Eagles to eek past the Falcons. And before you call me an Eagles homer know that you're right and this is my blog/party and I'll sheep it up if I want to.

New England: 38
Titans: 14

The Patriots must've broken out in a huge smile when they saw they were drawing the Titans. Tennessee has the goods to play with the Patriots in those frigid conditions. Tennessee can run the ball and if Mariota can avoid silly turnovers the Titans could extend that game. As we know the Patriots are NFL Bama. They will feed on Tennessee's inexperience and win rather easily.

Vikings 24
Saints 17

AK has had a special year and the Saints had an amazing turnaround season but the Vikings are Super Bowl bound. They're home. Their defense is terrific. They're going to advance.

Steelers 21
Jags 10

Brian Hartman's guys have had a nice year, but if they want to get past a game like this they need to be better at QB. The Steelers are only better at QB and in the post-season QB play can be yuuuuge.

Finally Postgame Show UT Hoops Tomorrow Night: A reminder for you on the way out today....Garza Law Tennessee Basketball Overtime airs tomorrow night immediately following Tennessee Vs Texas A&M on your Tony Basilio App, live stream plus Periscope. Beeeee there.

A New Direction At Here at we’re creating a series of programming with little to mostly zero commercial sponsorship. In other words, you will be digesting the following programs in coming days with almost no interruption. This is unprecedented in the history of my business. Nobody has ever done this. Here are the offerings coming your way.

Our Family Of Offerings:

‘X-Cast: A Recruiting Podcast’: Featuring Tony Basilio & ‘X’ where we discuss the latest moves, behind the scenes machinations and all the intrigue from the world of recruiting. This will hopefully be offered twice monthly with lengths varying. If this takes off perhaps we can even do some live offerings of this show. THIS IS BEING OFFERED COMMERCIAL FREE!!!

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 1:48 AM
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Posted: Monday, January 15th, 11:03 PM
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Fifth Quarter Fan Reaction: Back for season 4. Sponsored by Marcos Garza. This year with NO OTHER SPONSORS. This will be pure content for you. I’m taking a chance here but I know you will reward me for not bombarding you with messages Vol Network style. This program will run for at least 3 hours following Tennessee Football Games. We will have new visual presentation of this feature as well that we’re investing in. Thanks to Jayson Swain for helping me with the technical side of our visual presentation.

Southeastern Sunday Night: 7p to 9p on Sunday Nights airing on Periscope/Facebook Live and other platforms including your Tony Basilio Show App. This will be a regional program that aims to keep it real. We will tell the truth on us, them and all with you. This could be a lot of fun if you help me spread the word across the region. This hopefully will turn into a free for all that is free for all. ZERO SPONSORS. COMMERCIAL FREE OFFERING.

Vol-Scars: A podcast featuring Vol Historian Tom Mattingly and Eric S where we go back in time and commemorate the painful losses in UT football history that left a mark. These shows are extremely time intensive to put together. I’ve worked all summer on these offerings and am really proud of what we’ve compiled thus far. I think you’ll really enjoy this. COMMERCIAL FREE.

Gate Twenty Won: A podcast Featuring Vol Historian Tom Mattingly where we celebrate the greatest wins in UT history in time capsule form. These are a breath of fresh air and the type of programming I’m aiming to bring to you . COMMERCIAL FREE

Chill Cast: Tell Me A Story: A podcast where I grab folks from the sports world and our community and allow them to share their stories with us. This will be done in the spirit of the recent re-launch programs that I did. We’ll aim to go deeper here. Stay tuned. COMMERCIAL FREE.

Tennessee Basketball Overtime: Back for year 5! Immediately following Tennessee Basketball Games. A Tennessee Basketball Call-In show featuring ONLY ONE SPONSOR…GARZA LAW FIRM. Therefore we keep the conversation going without bombarding you Vol Network style. What a concept!!!!

Garza On The Law: A Podcast dealing with the legal issues that invade the sports world featuring the great Marcos Garza. We will go deeper here. I promise that you will find this interesting. Presented by Garza Law Firm.

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FAQ's Asked Of Tony Per Our Relaunch Announcement:

Q: Tony, you didn't say anything about your daily show yesterday. Will you continue to do this?

A: Absolutely. I'm looking forward to year #24 with you.

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Posted: Friday, January 19th, 1:48 AM
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Q: So, if I'm not subscribing and I'm already reading this, why give?

A: Because you value the content and our contribution to the market and you want to help us keep this stuff free for everybody.

Q: Are you going to beat us up for money all the time here?

A: Absolutely not. I will bring this up a few times heading into the football season as we attempt to meet our financial goals and create new programming. I'll also mention it in the post-game format as well as the regional programming. I will not however wear you out with this. Either you feel the need to help us or you don't. This is why I'm taking today to field some question I received after day one.

Q: What happens if this doesn't generate the revenue you're seeking?

A: We will scale back our online offerings accordingly. The blog itself could even disappear. I really don't want this to happen but will be forced to spend my time in the most profitable way necessary. That's why we're having the conversation. All my cards are on the table here.

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