COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Since Jalin Hyatt donned a set of football pads, all he’s ever wanted to do was make plays.
Needless to say, the Dutch Fork wide receiver has done his fair share of making plays with the Silver Foxes during their championship runs. It’s the talent he possesses that has drawn attention from several Division I schools. In the end, Jalin committed to Tennessee after decommitting from Virginia Tech.
“It feels good to get it all over with,” Jalin said. “The recruiting process takes a while. It was hard for me to decommit. But taking my visits, I knew Tennessee would be the right spot and I’m glad I chose that decision.”
The recruiting trail can be demanding for recruits, but Jalin’s family wanted to make sure they provided the support the Dutch Fork senior needed throughout the process.
“The biggest thing that we wanted to do was to let him know that we’re here for him to bounce any information off of us,” said Jamie Hyatt, Jalin’s father. “He has a lot of people in his ear and they have good intentions to tell him you should go here or you should go here. We really didn’t want to have that role. We wanted the role of, ‘Tell us what you’re thinking. Let’s say it out loud and let us help you with that and kind of process that information.’”
For Jalin, there were many reasons why both teams caught his eye. However, the Vols won out because of their need for wide receivers.
“Just talking to Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt, I believe in his plan,” Jalin said. “They’re losing four seniors at receiver. That was big because I have a chance to go in there and make an immediate impact as a true freshman. That’s what steered me away.”
Joining the Vols would give Jalin the chance to play in arguably the toughest conference in the country -- the SEC. For him, it’s a test he welcomes with open arms.
“I’m up for the challenge.,” he said. “I know it’s going to be harder, but I’m just going to keep working and keep getting better every day and stay humble. That’s my main focus.”
Without question, Tennessee’s conference schedule has no breaks for the Vols. But Jalin already has his eye on one particular game once he begins his career in Knoxville.
“South Carolina,” Jalin said without hesitation. “I’m ready to play them. That’s the team I’m focused on. When I get to college, I’m going to have them circled. When we get to the College Playoff, we’ll worry about Clemson later.”
Playing at Tennessee would also give Jalin the opportunity to reunite with former Dutch Fork teammate Bryce Thompson. The duo was instrumental in helping the Silver Foxes win the Class 5-A state title in 2017. Now, they’ll look to help the Vols bring home some hardware at some point in the near future.
“Every time he has the chance to come home, he’ll tell me, ‘You need to come to Tennessee,’” Jalin said. “I’m glad Bryce is there. He helped me a little bit with my decision. That made it more comfortable. I’m glad I have him as a friend.”
Still, National Signing Day is a long way away and the Dutch Fork senior still have one more shot to win another state title. As much as Jalin is ready to play at Neyland Stadium, he’s still got unfinished business left with the Silver Foxes. While he hopes to lead his team to another championship, Jalin will work on sharpening his skill at the same time.
“The number one thing I want to do is be a leader,” Jalin said. “I want to set an example for the younger kids who are coming through. I just want to keep getting stronger and stronger every day and stay humble. That’s the biggest thing. I love Coach (Tom) Knotts and I believe in Coach Knotts and Coach Jason Barnes. So, it’s not boing to be hard at all.”
Dutch Fork begins another title defense on Aug. 23 when the Silver Foxes host Mallard Creek.