Josh Heupel and the Tennessee Vols registered yet another recruiting win on Sunday, gaining the commitment of blue chip pass-rusher Chandavian Bradley of Platte County, MO. It’s the fourth commit to the 2023 class in the span of the week, the fifth total commit during the span and the sixth overall pledge to the Volunteers in the month of July.
Bradley chose Tennessee over Texas A&M and South Carolina – bringing the program’s total number of commits to 17 at the current standing. Rivals pegs the defensive playmaker as the No. 32 prospect of the cycle, meaning he is now the Vols’ second-highest prospect in the class – behind the quarterback Nico Iamaleava who sits at No. 8. Tennessee now sports three top-100 prospects in the class with Bradley, Iamaleava and Sylvester Smith.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder is considered the top prospect in the state of Missouri and the fourth-best weakside defensive end in the class. Bradley, who becomes the Vols’ 10th defensive pledge, owns a Rivals Rating of 6.0 and links up with fellow four-star Caleb Herring as projected LEOs in the committed class.
Here’s a detailed look at what Bradley’s commitment means for Tennessee.
“Chandavian is a physically talented kid who has a ton of growth in front of him, both in terms of physical growth and growth in his game. He is an excellent, stand-up young man. I’m extremely proud to have him in my program.
He is just a gifted athlete. His pass rush is natural – he’s very elegant when he rushes the passer. He runs extremely fluid and he’s very smooth. I would almost call him liquid in a sense of, if he wants to be unblocked, he has the ability to be very slimy. He plays with a good motor and there are a lot of times where the big plays that he is making are when people are running away from him. We see things on kickoff coverage where he’s sprinting down the field and he’s able to make those plays.
I think his given ability and his motor are probably his two best attributes right now.”
— Bill Utz, Platte County head football coach
HOW BRADLEY FITS IN WITH THE VOLS?
Platte County head coach Bill Utz isn’t lying – Bradley’s two best attributes are certainly his motor and given ability. Those two things allowed him to absolutely dominate the prep level in Missouri.
Coming off the edge, Tennessee’s new pledge can do anything that’s asked. He’s more comfortable in a two-point stance rushing the quarterback, but puts his hand in the dirt oftentimes – taking on offensive tackles while getting into the backfield. Bradley can also line up out of the box over a slot receiver and covers well.
At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, the new Volunteer commit can be used in several different ways.
His motor is always running, allowing him to track down plays going away form him (which are many). On explosive plays, Bradley takes good angles and chases down would-be touchdowns. His speed is second-level, coming off the edge with little resistance from offensive tackles or tight ends. He also has great speed to beat down blocks, blowing up plays at the line of scrimmage or at the mesh point.
Another attribute of Bradley’s game is his instincts. The pass-rusher is very active with his hands while taking on blockers – but more importantly – he makes a habit of getting them up to disrupt the pass. His vertical leap is impressive (a basketball player, too) and is a real threat to a quarterback in throwing motion.
Bradley is an all-around player and one who isn’t above running down the field on kickoff and punt units. He gives maximum effort on field goals and PAT blocks and he’s disciplined in the option game, staying on either the quarterback, dive or pitch – whatever his assignment is.
A true LEO in every sense of the position, Bradley will need to put on some pounds to solidify his stature for Southeastern Conference play. He’s got plenty of room to do it, though, with a 6-foot-6 frame. Tennessee’s commitment today could turn into an elite pass-rusher at the next level and it shouldn’t take him long to start making an impact when arriving on campus.
WHAT DOES BRADLEY’S COMMITMENT MEAN FOR TENNESSEE?
It further solidifies Josh Heupel and staff are recruiting at a level to win in the SEC. Not every prospect the staff pursues will end up donning the Orange and White, but Bradley’s pledge is another example of an early priority jumping in the boat prior to the fall season.
There’s a long way to go before signing day, and now Bradley can begin his role as a recruiter to help add to this class. The pass-rusher still hasn’t visited Tennessee officially, although that could go a long way towards one of the football weekends in the fall, even if he makes his way back up at the end of the month for the opening week.
Looking ahead, the Vols will likely say goodbye to redshirt-senior Byron Young at the LEO spot following the 2022 campaign. Roman Harrison is also a senior, although he has a COVID year of eligibility as well, if he chose to be utilized. The Vols have true freshmen James Pearce and Joshua Josephs who are just now getting started on the edge while fellow freshmen Elijah Herring and Kaleb Perry can play the position if needed.
Bradley now joins Herring as two priority targets at the position who have committed. Rico Walker is another pass-rushing target the Vols are pursuing and there’s been some buzz that a call between the Volunteers and North Carolina could be made soon. If not, expect that race to go into the fall.
Tennessee is also on commitment watch for four-star linebacker Jalen Smith today and four-star offensive tackle Lucas Simmons tomorrow.