Ken Talley is just a 2022 prospect, but the rising junior carries himself with an old school Philly swag that matches an already extensive offer list. After Tennessee became his 16th offer last month, the Northeast (Penn.) standout visited the Vols for the first time over the weekend, and Talley left more than impressed. “I like it here. It’s Rocky Top. I like Rocky Top. They showed me a lot of love down here,” he told Volquest. “It’s all love here. The (basketball game) was eye-opening. There’s just so much love here. The coaches love you. The fans love you. It’s a lot of love around here, and I love it.” Talley is a 6-2, 215 pound defensive end/outside linebacker with a frame to add another 30 pounds. As just a sophomore, he had 11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on a stacked Northeast team. Tennessee is among the early standouts to the 2022 prospect, with Penn State, Rutgers and Maryland also in the mix early in Talley’s recruitment. The underclassman had the chance to meet new outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton on Saturday and during a film session explained exactly why the Vols were in on him early. "They told me I’m a game-changer. I can turn things around,” he explained. “I talked with coach Shelton (Felton), and that would be my position coach if I came to Tennessee, and they like my versatility. I could play outside linebacker, defensive end, stand-up inside wherever. I really like that message. I like to be versatile and do a lot of different things.
Talley looks up to his 2021 teammate Elijah Jeudy — another blue-chip OLB that the Vols really covet — but he loves turning on YouTube highlights of Khalil Mack or breaking down film of Rams stud DL Aaron Donald. Still learning the nuances of the position, Talley said he can always learn something by watching the two All-Pros. "I feel like I’m really strong at stopping the run and helping shutdown a whole half of the field, but there’s always things to improve on,” he said. “Kahlil Mack gets off that edge. He’s explosive. But I also watch Aaron Donald because he gets crazy with those moves. So I watch both those guys so I can pick up things from both those guys’ games. They both demons.” It’s super early in Talley’s recruitment but Tennessee caught his attention on his inaugural visit. His early bonds with coach Osovet, as well as his openness to playing anywhere across the country give the Vols a future shot at the 2022 standout. “I have a broad horizon to my recruitment,” he said. “I can play in the Big Ten, the Pac 12, SEC. I can dominate anywhere. I’m just looking for the right fit.”