Breaking: In-State Receiver Merrill Talks Decision to Commit to Tennessee

Matthew Ray

Walker Merrill released a top list of seven schools roughly one week ago, and he then announced on Monday evening that he was down to three final schools, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Tennessee is now the lone team remaining, and Merrill breaks down his pledge to the Vols here. 

Merrill said on staying home and choosing Tennessee, "Tennessee is home, and I get to stay home. I know I have a great opportunity to come in and play early to impact the program early. That is what I really want to do. I want to compete for a spot as a freshman, and I think Tennessee has a great history sending guys to the NFL, and I think I have a great shot of playing in the NFL, as well as having a successful life after football. I think Tennessee provides me with all of that stuff."

Merrill had the option to choose several highly academic schools such as Duke, Wake Forest, and Vanderbilt. In the end, Merrill believes Tennessee offers him all of that and more. 

He said on life after football, "well, obviously, I want to make it to the league, but after football, that is still a thought in process, maybe something that involves the medical field." 

Merrill's relationship with Tee Martin was key in this recruitment. He said, "it was (big) for sure. You want a coach who is going to coach you, and he has produced guys, obviously. JuJu Smith-Schuster is in the league and doing very well. Why would you not want to be a receiver and go play for someone who makes great players?"

Tennessee has big plans for Merrill in their offense, and he said, "They have told me that they see me as a slot guy, but that is not going to be a primary position. They think I can be an outside receiver, as an X, and come into slot. They think, just because of my route running ability, coach Martin says they need some guys who can come in and run routes. Right now, they have a lot of taller dudes, like 6'3 who can do jump ball stuff, but they need some dudes who can come in and break people off like these LSU and Alabama receivers do. He needs a solid route-runner, and I think I can fill that spot."

Merill said on what kind of player the Vols are getting, "well, I think I bring a lot to the table. Like I said, the route running aspect of it because that is something I have always worked on. I look up to guys like Jerry Jeudy and Justin Jefferson, goats of route running. I have always strived to be a great route runner. That draws eyes. I think I have natural hands to catch the ball, so I think I bring that to the table, as well as my competitive spirit." 

So, who is Merrill going to target on the recruiting trail? He said, "Junior Colson. That is one of my best friends." Below is a video of a 1-1 matchup between the pass catcher and the linebacker. 

Merrill's message to Colson will be, "Let's build a championship team. Come on now." 

Merrill is rated as a four-star per ESPN, and the 276th prospect in the country.