During a recent Riverdale football practice, senior Caleb Herring helped pull a fast one on coach Will Kriesky.
“We were cutting up at practice and I was picking on (one of the players),” Kriesky said. “(Herring) snuck up behind me and held me while they poured a bucket of water on me.”
That’s the kind of personality Herring has, and it shows how much the Tennessee football commitment has evolved during his time with the Warriors.
“The kids really have a good time with him,” Kriesky said. “He’s a people person and he has really good relationships with the players and coaches. Any time a kid is having a tough practice, you always see him sneak over and talk to him.”
But confidence didn’t always come that easy for Herring.
DANDY DOZEN NO. 3:Why we told you more about our Dandy Dozen athletes than just recruiting news
DANDY DOZEN NO. 4:What Ravenwood 4-star QB Chris Parson has learned from studying Tom Brady, Russell Wilson
DANDY DOZEN NO. 5:Marcel Reed broke age, race ceilings at MBA, next up at Ole Miss and playing for Lane Kiffin
The state’s No. 1 prospect for the Class of 2023 according to the 247Sports Composite and the No. 1 player on The Tennessean’s 2022 Dandy Dozen said he had his moments of doubt when he started getting ranked by national recruiting services.
“At first I was kind of nervous,” Herring said. “I thought I would have a lot of pressure on my back. My sophomore year, first year playing varsity, I didn’t know if I would be that good and live up to it. I thought it was a lot of pressure because I didn’t have varsity film.”
Herring, a four-star edge rusher, shook the nerves and has lived up to the billing. After being ranked No. 3 in the 2023 class, he was quickly moved up to No. 1 after his sophomore year.
“He will not allow negativity to be spoken,” said Caleb’s mother, Tiffany Herring. “He will sternly snap you back into positivity really quickly.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Caleb is that he is faith filled. He believes that with God’s guidance, he can conquer anything. He is also humble. Through all the football noise he has managed to walk humbly.”
Tennessee bound with brother
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Herring committed to the Vols in April, joining his older brother, Elijah, who is a freshman with the Vols.
He is considered the No. 11 edge rusher in the nation and No. 83 overall recruit.. He had offers from nine SEC schools, as well as Notre Dame, Miami, Michigan, Penn State, USC, Baylor and Wisconsin.
Caleb is looking forward to joining Elijah in Knoxville. The two got even closer during the recruiting process.
“We really didn’t get in the way of each other,” Caleb said. “When it came to recruiting, we just helped each other. After Elijah committed, he instantly started helping me. Whenever I would get stressed, he would say, ‘God put you in this position. Not too many people get this opportunity. Enjoy it.’
DANDY DOZEN NO. 6:Pitt commit Kenny Minchey of JPII knew football was his future, but he had to convince his parents first
DANDY DOZEN NO. 7:What Tennessee football commit Nathan Robinson learned from his Marine dad, who’s a Vols fan now
DANDY DOZEN NO. 8:What makes Blackman football’s Justin Brown one of Tennessee’s most exciting high school receivers
“He wasn’t pushing me to commit (to Tennessee). He always told me it was whatever school made me comfortable.”
Having a year on his own, not playing in his brother’s shadow, should be good for Caleb as well.
“I told someone back in the spring that it was good for Caleb that Elijah left (for UT) in January,” Kriesky said. “We always picked on him and called him ‘baby brother.’ I’ve really gotten to see Caleb grow as a leader, not as much as a vocal leader, but more the way he’s worked and carried himself with teammates and coaches.”
“A lot of people looked up to Elijah,” Caleb added. “When he left, all the attention went to me.”
DANDY DOZEN NO. 9:How Ayden Bussell has become the biggest cheerleader in Tennessee football recruiting’s 2023 class
DANDY DOZEN NO. 10:How Arkansas football commitment Luke Brown endured 18 months of family hardship
DANDY DOZEN NO. 11:How Father Ryan lineman Drake Carlson’s classical violin skills help him on the football field
DANDY DOZEN NO. 12:New Blackman WR Jacob Page may explode in recruiting in new fast-paced offense
Caleb grew up in Georgia before his family moved to Tennessee while he was in middle school.
“I’ve been brothers with Caleb since freshman year and he’s come a long way in his journey,” said Caleb’s good friend and teammate, Isaac Oglesby. “He worked his tail off to get where he is today. It’s been a blessing to be on the field with him and I can’t wait to dominate the season with him for our last ride. I love that guy.”
Herring had 54 tackles (five for loss) with one-half of a sack, an interception and a caused fumble in 2021.
How will he fit in with the Vols?
“He’s around 210-ish, but after they put him on a nutrition program with three square meals a day, weight room and pumping him full of peanut butter and stuff, he’ll put on 20 pounds easily,” said Austin Price, who covers Tennessee football for Rivals.com.
“His frame will be 245-250 (pounds), but he won’t lose his athleticism. It sounds foolish, but it happens all the time here. If he gets here in January, by the time he gets to fall camp a year from now, he’ll be 30 pounds heavier than when he arrives.”