Jalin Hyatt has been committed to Virginia Tech for almost three months, but he showed up at Sunday’s The Opening Regional just outside Charlotte, N.C., wearing orange Tennessee gloves. He said there was a simple explanation, though, for why he was sporting the Vols’ colors Sunday afternoon. “My gloves are old,” Hyatt said, “so that’s why I wore the Tennessee ones.” But that’s not to say the three-star Class of 2020 wide receiver from Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C., has little interest in Tennessee.
Hyatt said he still hears from Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt’s staff “every other day,” led by co-defensive coordinator Chris Rumph and first-year wide receivers coach Tee Martin. “We’re still in great conversation,” said Hyatt, who was timed at 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash and won the fastest-man competition during Sunday’s event at Rocky River High School. “I’m going to take a visit up there this summer. Got to get up there to see Pruitt and Coach Rumph and them, so we’ll do a visit this summer. “I talk to Coach Rumph a lot. We just talk about when I’m coming up there and what’s best for me. I really like Tennessee, and I’m glad I’m going to take a visit up there this summer.”
He’s also a close friend and former teammate of Vols rising sophomore cornerback Bryce Thompson, a former South Carolina commitment who arrived at Tennessee less than a year ago as a late addition to its 2019 recruiting class. “When he comes back home — he’s actually coming back this Wednesday — he’s always talking, ‘You’re going to come to Tennessee. You’re going to come,’” Hyatt said, referring to Thompson. “Having a best friend like that at Tennessee is a big selling point, and I really like that. “He loves it there. He said it’s the best decision of his life because he was committed to Carolina, couldn’t go there, and he obviously went to Tennessee. He said he loves it there and thanks God for it. And I’m glad he’s away from South Carolina, because it made him a better player. He’s focused now. I can see that and I’m proud of him. “I really appreciate him as a best friend and I love him.”
Hyatt said the Vols, who hosted him for their junior day on Jan. 26, “were definitely right behind” Virginia Tech when he announced his commitment to the Hokies, and Tennessee has remained persistent in pursuing him even since he announced his decision on Feb. 2. He said Rumph, his area recruiter for the Vols, stopped at his school on Friday. “They never laid off,” said Hyatt. “That’s one thing I liked about Tennessee. They kept pushing, kept pushing. And that’s what Coach Pruitt told me. He said, ‘We’re going to keep pushing no matter what,’ so I really love the respect that Tennessee is showing me, and I really love it there.”
Martin, a former Tennessee quarterback, has gotten to know Hyatt since joining the Vols’ staff in January, and Martin has made it clear to Hyatt that he could challenge for immediate playing time with the Vols. “He said they’re losing four receivers, and that’s bad for a team like that, so they definitely need somebody to come in and start,” Hyatt said. “And that’s a big selling point. I really like that about Tennessee. For them to recruit me hard, it’s a blessing.” “They’re in the SEC,” Hyatt said. “Tennessee, it’s a big name. They’re always on TV. You’re going to see yourself on TV. That’s what I like about Tennessee. They have great coaches. I really like coach Tee Martin. He definitely has a resume that I like, being in the NFL and all that. I really like coach Tee Martin.