Monday, 03/16/09

Knoxville a good fit for Brown.

In choosing to sign with the University of Tennessee, Bryce Brown will play in an offense that perfectly fits with his skill set. The 6-foot, 215-pound running back will be a key contributor in an offense that will rely on a downhill running game to move the chains.

Brown is a nice blend of speed and power. He has the ability to run inside and outside, but thrives most when he's between the tackles. That's not to say Brown doesn't have breakaway speed. During his career at Wichita East High School he showed an ability to bounce outside, turn the corner and go the distance. Still, Brown's skills seem more suited for Tennessee's system than they were for the spread run by many of the teams he was considering.

Brown played against mediocre high school competition in central Kansas. During his brother Arthur's freshman season at Miami, the older Brown struggled at times and didn't see the field much outside of special teams duty. It will be interesting to see if Bryce is able to hit the ground running in Knoxville.

Much was made of the fact Tennessee is setting a new bar for assistant coach salaries. Thus far, that investment in a coaching staff littered with big names has paid off.

The Vols closed strongly in 2009, adding wideout Nu'Keese Richardson and DB Janzen Jackson on signing day and Brown and running back David Oku in the weeks after it. Brown is Tennessee's 21st 2009 commitment. The Vols' class was ranked 15th by Scouts Inc. on signing day, but with the late additions of Oku and Brown it's a top-10 class.

Monday, 03/16/09

A second trip to Knoxville, Tenn., this past weekend by the nation's top
football prospect proved prophetic in more ways than initially imagined when
Wichita (Kan.) East High School running back Bryce Brown selected Tennessee as
his college destination Monday during an afternoon press conference at the
Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Wichita.

Brown, 6 feet, 215 pounds, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, chose the
Volunteers and Coach Lane Kiffin from a group of finalists that included Kansas
State, Oregon and LSU. He visited Tennessee twice in the past month and cited
divine intervention that he encountered during his most recent trip on an
unofficial visit to the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains state as a prime
factor in signing with the Volunteers.
Brown, rated as the nation's No. 1 prospect for 2009 by and, is the second high-profile recruit in the past 5 1/2 weeks that LSU
has lost to Tennessee. Barbe defensive back Janzen Jackson signed with the
Volunteers on Feb. 5, one day after National Signing Day, despite having been an
LSU commitment for nearly a year.

Wednesday, 02/07/07

UT bumper crop fulfills Fulmer.

Most experts rate Vols as top 5 class.

On Wednesday, the Vols put the wraps on what most analysts said was a top 5 signing class nationally.

And while Fulmer again insisted that it's never been about winning the recruiting ratings game in February, he didn't try to hide his exuberance about the 32 players who comprise the Vols' 2007 class.

"Is it the best year ever? It's one of them," Fulmer said. "I can say that. I do believe that. But again, we need to get them to campus and see what we've got."

The Vols were third nationally in the most-up-to-date ratings by They were fifth by

It's a far cry from a year ago, when Tennessee checked in at 23rd nationally and lost eight players to either academics or off-the-field problems.

Similar to Peyton Manning in the 1994 class and Arron Sears in the 2003 class, Fulmer has no doubt that there are some stars in this class.

Receivers Kenny O'Neal and Gerald Jones, tailback Lennon Creer, cornerback Eric Berry, linebacker Chris Donald, defensive end Ben Martin and safety Nevin McKenzie were all highly-sought-after prospects.

Equally important, according to Fulmer, is finding the guy that's not as coveted and then developing him into a star.

"It's not hard to identify Robert Meachem," Fulmer said. "Two minutes of tape will tell you. Those guys are easy. Getting them to school is not always easy. But the guys that are the middle-of-the-road guys as far as recruiting are the ones you've got to be right on more than you're wrong."

Filling their needs

Receiver and defensive back were a priority, and the Vols signed 14 players who fit in at one of those two positions.

O'Neal, Jones, Brent Vinson, Ahmad Paige and Franklin's Todd Campbell will get a chance immediately to prove they belong in the receiver rotation.

"The last thing you want to do is handcuff Erik (Ainge) with a whole bunch of brand new guys who really don't know what they're doing," Fulmer said. "At the same time, if you're physically gifted, I've found in the past that ability will overtake experience almost every time. We're going to get them on the field."

Fulmer said the nucleus of in-state guys committing so early helped build momentum. Five players in this class have been enrolled since January, and several took an active part in the recruiting process.

"It doesn't really matter how you recruit. It matters how you play," said Darris Sawtelle, an offensive lineman from Birmingham, Mich. "But looking at the information we have on these kids and what they've done in high school and the caliber of talent they are, they're solid and we're going to be good. I have no doubt."

Pope injured: Offensive lineman Cody Pope, one of the five signees now on campus, broke a bone in his right foot working out and will likely miss spring practice, Fulmer said.

Pope was in a walking boot and on crutches Wednesday.

Numbers game: Even though the Vols over-signed by five the number of players (27) they can bring in when the August semester begins, Fulmer said he's confident everything will work itself out.

The Vols can count two players against last year's total, which gets them to 27. Fulmer said a handful of players also have academic issues to clear up and might have to attend prep school or junior college.

"We had to make some tough choices at the end," Fulmer said. "We let some guys go because numbers-wise we couldn't handle it."

December 17 2006

Berry commits to Vols

Fairburn, Ga., prospect ranked fourth in nation.

Eric Berry decided to keep it in the family, and in doing so, gave
Tennessee's football team one of its highest-profile commitments in
several years.

Berry, rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in the country by, said Sunday night that he's decided to follow in the
footsteps of his father, James, and will sign with the Vols in

"I wanted to go ahead and let it be known," said Berry, who rarely
came off the field last season while starring for Creekside High in
Fairburn, Ga. "I sat down and prayed about it (Saturday) night and
actually knew then. I woke up and told my dad. He kept asking me if I
was sure. I said, 'Yeah, I want to be a Tennessee Vol.'"

The 6-foot, 195-pound Berry had narrowed his choices to Auburn,
Georgia, Ohio State, Southern Cal and Tennessee. He's been on a
couple of unofficial visits to Tennessee, but has yet to take an
official visit to Knoxville. He plans to cancel all of his remaining
visits to other schools.

"I'm done," he said. "There's no need playing around. I'm 100 percent
a Tennessee Vol."

Berry is rated the nations top cb .

JANUARY 16, 2005 

Vols load up at All American Bowl.

San Antonio, Texas.

The Tennessee Volunteers were the big winners in the commitment
department at the U.S. Army All American Bowl held on Saturday at the
Alamo Dome.
Tennessee moved into the national top five thanks to players like Rico McCoy.

McCoy said he chose the Vols just this past Thursday.
"I didn't decide on Tennessee until Thursday night," said McCoy, a 6-
foot-2, 210-pounder from Washington (D.C.) St. John's College. "It
was a tough decision between Ohio State and Tennessee. There were
players who committed to both teams in the game, but in the end it
just came down to a gut feeling. I like the coaches at Tennessee and
I think there's a good opportunity to learn in the first year and
then start after that, but I also felt that way about Ohio State.
Sometimes it comes down to a feeling and that's what I got from

Safety prospect Adam Myers-White, from Hamilton, Ohio, got that same

"It was between Nebraska and Tennessee and for awhile there I thought
I was going to Nebraska," said the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder. "But I
weighed everything out and spoke with my family and Tennessee just
felt right. Half of my family is from the area so that was a factor
and Tennessee is putting together a great group of players. I wanted
to be part of that."

The third player to choose the Vols was Oak Creek, Wis. defensive end
Raymond Henderson.

"It was Tennessee pretty much from the time I visited," said the 6-
foot-5, 250-pounder who played for the West squad. "I was trying to
create a little confusion about where I was going so it would be a
surprise though. The things I mentioned about bad things happening at
the school I was choosing and that there might be some NCAA stuff
going on, that was all a smokescreen and to throw people off. Nothing
bad is happening to Tennessee, you know? I just wanted to shock the
nation, but I know some people already knew where I was going."

JANUARY  4,  2005

Vols land nation's No. 1 center.

Signing a center was among Tennessee's top priorities this recruiting
period, and the Vols have reeled in the most coveted one in the

Josh McNeil of Collins, Miss., became Tennessee's 15th commitment
when he said he would sign with the Vols. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound
McNeil is rated by and recruiting analyst Tom
Lemming as the nation's No. 1 center prospect.

''I just had a gut feeling about Tennessee after my visit there,''
McNeil said. ''Coach (Phillip) Fulmer was a big reason I chose
Tennessee. He's an offensive line guy. The offensive linemen are his
boys. He's around them more than anybody, and I wanted to play for a
coach with that kind of offensive line background.''

McNeil's other visits were to LSU, Mississippi State, Southern Cal
and Florida. He said Nick Saban's decision to leave LSU for the Miami
Dolphins had no effect on his decision.

''Coaches come and go,'' McNeil said. ''What I tried to do was look
at the school. I knew Tennessee was the best place for me.''

McNeil's older brother, Chris McNeil, will be a senior at Mississippi
State next season, and the younger McNeil conceded there was pressure
to stay in state.

''Me and my whole family were State fans, but they support me 100
percent,'' McNeil said. ''Now, we'll be State and Volunteer fans.''

JUNE  25,  2004

Crompton makes it official, commits to Vols.

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. -- Jonathan Crompton is a Tennessee commitment.

The Waynesville, N.C. quarterback announced his college commitment at
a press conference held at his high school this afternoon. Crompton
(6'3", 205), from Tuscola High School, said he committed to Tennessee
coaches after the Vols' Mississippi State game last year.

Crompton received
offers from several other schools. He said the desire to play in the
SEC was a major factor. His comfort level at Tennessee was also a
factor. Crompton said he has already called other Vol prospects in
hopes of swaying them to commit to Tennessee.

February 4, 2004

UT on way to Top 10 recruiting class in the country.

Tennessee closed strong on nationally signing day with the addition of versatile lineman Ell Ash and quarterback Brent Schaeffer.

All in all there were few suprises, and Tennessee once again walks away from national signing day having met most all of its needs. It's a class that figures to be ranked in the top 10 by most major recruiting services.

Deerfield Beach's Schaeffer signs with Tennessee.

Deerfield Beach's Brent Schaeffer, Broward County's most prolific
quarterback, signed a national letter of intent to play for Tennessee
on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Schaeffer was deciding between Tennessee and
North Carolina State.

Schaeffer, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Class 6A-5A-4A Player of
the Year, led the Bucks to a school-record 12 wins before losing the
Class 6A state semifinal to Orlando Edgewater.

The star athlete McArthur coach Keith Franklin declared "the Michael
Vick of high school football" threw for 3,150 yards and 31 touchdowns
in 14 games, rushed for 575 yards and 15 touchdowns, and returned a
kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown.

Schaeffer's career passing totals (5,903 yards, 61 touchdowns) rank
second all-time in Broward County.

February 3, 2004 

Four-star LB Ayers makes pick.

Four-star Bennettsville (S.C.) Marlboro County linebacker Robert
Ayers ended one of the South's most heated recruiting battles on

He announced his college decision on live television in Mytle Beach
at approximately 6:25 ET, picking Tennessee over South Carolina,
Florida, Florida State and N.C. State.

"I'm going to Tennessee," Ayers said. "I feel comfortable with all
the coaches there. I just felt like it was home."

South Carolina and Florida were considered early favorites for Ayers.

The Volunteers, however, closed with a bang and added one of the
nation's elite defenders to an already strong signing class currently
ranked No. 10 nationally.

Ayers (6-3, 218, 4.68) capped his senior season by recording 112
tackles and four interceptions. He is rated the No. 10 inside
linebacker in the nation by

December 17, 2003

Ainge commits to Vols
Portland, Ore., QB threw for nearly 3,000 yards in 2003

Tennessee's biggest question of the recruiting season might have been answered Tuesday afternoon.

His name is Erik Ainge, and the 6-foot-6, 200-pound quarterback from the Portland suburb of Hillsboro, Ore., plans to be the Vols' quarterback of the future.

"I decided to go to Tennessee over everywhere else because I hit it off with their players,'' said Ainge, who has given the Vols' coaches a verbal commitment that he'll sign to play at UT on Feb. 4. "They have the best group of young receivers in the country, and I love the coaches I'll be working with, coach (Phillip) Fulmer and coach (Randy) Sanders.''

Ainge is the nephew of former Boston Celtics guard Danny Ainge. His father, Doug, attended Brigham Young on a basketball scholarship.

April 17, 2003

305-pound Tyner lineman Bolden gives Vols first commitment
Fulfills childhood dream.

Defensive lineman Demonte Bolden said his childhood dreams will come true in February when he signs with the Tennessee Volunteers.

"Tennessee has always had a good program since I was young, and I've always been a Vols' fan,'' said Bolden, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound athlete at Chattanooga's Tyner Academy. "I've always known I would play for the Vols.''

Bolden said he takes a great deal of pride in being the first commitment in Tennessee's Class of 2004.

"That is kind of neat,'' he said. "Coach (Phillip) Fulmer first offered me a scholarship four or five weeks ago.''

Bolden, who was named Mr. Football among Class 2A linemen last season, accepted the Vols' scholarship offer at the Orange and White Game on Saturday.

"Demonte has tremendous ability, agility, speed and quickness,'' said Tyner coach Wayne Turner, whose Rams went 10-2 last season. "We've gotten quite a few calls from other schools, but I really would be surprised if he changed his mind.''

Penn State, Michigan, Colorado, Notre Dame, Virginia, Georgia and Florida have all expressed interest, but Bolden said he wants to focus on getting his academics in order his senior year.

"I don't want to get caught up in all that drama with people coming to my house and my school,'' Bolden said. "I just want to get everything straight in school.''

Bolden said his mother has encouraged him to take a look around, but he said he won't waiver in his commitment to the Vols.

Bolden said he'll attend Auburn's Nike Camp in May, as well as Tennessee's camp in June. Bolden made 26 tackles-for-loss last season, and he's considered to be one of the top recruits in the Southeast.

"There's a lot of guys at Tennessee that I've liked,'' Bolden said. "John Henderson, Eddie Moore and Reggie White, and my favorite game was the one Florida game at the Swamp (2001).''

FEBRUARY 5  2003

UT's Fulmer hasn't lost recruiting touch.

It's becoming increasingly obvious today that Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer hasn't lost his touch in the recruiting circles.

The Vols have closed the recruiting season with a barrage of All-Americans that were thought to be on the fence entering the day.

Tennessee picked up a pair of Parade All-Americans in defensive end Turk McBride (Camden, N.J.), who chose the Vols over national champion Ohio State, and receiver Bret Smith (Warren, Ark.), who turned down the home-state Hogs.

The Tony McDaniel soap opera finally ended when the promising 6-foot-7, 280-pounder out of Columbia, S.C. signed with the Vols. A Clemson recruiting site had erroneously reported that he was a Tigers' commitment two weeks ago, only to have McDaniel's father, Walter, debunk the report and say it was still wide open.

More good news came from the Carolinas when Parade All-American offensive linemen Eric Young held off heavy in-state pressure and stood by his word, signing with the Vols.

The Vols put the finishing touches on their signing class by adding Oklahoma's No. 1-rated prospect, and Parade All-American receiver Robert Meachem.

A signing class of 22 players that includes five of the nation's 55 Parade All-America selections indicates the Vols' will maintain a healthy talent level.

JANUARY 22 - 2003

Vols get state's top star, LB Brooks of Jackson.

Jackson Central-Merry senior linebacker Daniel Brooks,
considered the top prospect in the state, committed to Tennessee

''I just felt more comfortable there,'' Brooks said. ''I really
enjoyed being around the coaches and felt I could trust them.''

Brooks, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker, is considered among the top
five linebackers in the country.

Brooks was named to USA Today's national first team as one of three
linebackers honored. He had 113 total tackles, nine for loss and two
sacks this season. He will also be named a first team All-American by

APRIL 26 - 2002

Tennessee landed its first football commitment from the Class of
2003, and he's a hoss.

Jared "Hoss'' Hostetter, a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder, has verbally
committed to sign with the Vols following his senior season at
Lawrence County High School in Louisa, Ky.

FEBRUARY  6 - 2002

Trio adds finishing touch to Vols' solid class

James Banks said it was quite a scene in the Ben Davis High School auditorium in Indianapolis on Wednesday with a dozen TV cameras around him and some 200 teachers and students standing by for his decision.
"Really, there were too many cameras," said Banks, who recruiting analyst Tom Lemming says is the best player in the state of Indiana. "I put on a Tennessee hat and passed out Tennessee jerseys to my family. I was glad to finally get it over with."

Offensive tackle Brandon Jefferies and tight end Aaron Kirkland expressed the same kind of relief after committing and signing with the Vols on Wednesday.

James Banks signs with UT

James Banks, QB, 6-3, 195, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis
He was named Parade All-American and Lemming rates him No. 8 quarterback, No. 18 overall.
Sporting News ranks him No. 30 overall. Rivals ranks him No. 3 "dual-threat'' quarterback and PrepStar ranks him as No. 5 quarterback on Dream Team. He was named Indiana's Mr. Football and led Ben Davis H.S. to consecutive state championships.

Brandon Jefferies signs with UT

Brandon Jeffries, OL, 6-5, 265, Crest High School, Shelby, N.C. signed with UT today. He was named Parade All-American.  The Sporting News has him the No. 3 OL, and No. 19 overall. PrepStar has him on their Dream Team, and he is included in the Atalanta Journal Constitution Super Southern 100.

Kirkland signs with UT

Aaron Kirkland, TE, 6-5, 240, Jack Britt High School, Fayetteville, N.C. signed with the Vols today.
He was named to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Super Southern 100 list. The Sporting News rates him the No. 3 tight end and No. 80 overall.

Jonathan Mapu Commits to Tennessee 
January 29, 2002

PrepStar Dream Team All-American defensive lineman Jonathan Mapu, who prepped at Hawaii;s Kahuku High School, as accepted a football scholarship offer from the Tennessee Volunteers. Most experts regard Mapu as one of the half-dozen best defensive linemen in the country. To land him, Tennessee had to overcome vigorous recruiting efforts from just about every major power in the country.

Jonathan;s short list included Tennessee, Washington, Brigham Young and Hawaii. Other prominent schools known to be in hot pursuit until recently included Nebraska, Penn State, UCLA and Wisconsin. Reliable sources state that close to one hundred schools contacted Jonathan, his coaches or his school!

Mapu is a 6-3, 260 pound powerhouse who runs the forty-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. Jonathan came into national prominence at the end of last season when he led Kahuku to a stunning upset win over long-time Hawaiian power Honolulu St. Louis in the Hawaii State Football Tournament.

A remarkable athlete who also stars in basketball, Jonathan has had to fight his way through double and triple teams for the past three years to reach his current status. Indeed, that is what enthralled and awed recruiters and recruiting services when they analyzed Kahuku videotapes...

Oct 29-2001

Red Bank's Riggs picks UT

Tennessee added a thoroughbred to its football recruiting stable.
Gerald Riggs Jr., who is universally regarded as one of the top tailbacks in the nation, announced Monday that he will sign with the Vols in February.

"I felt Tennessee was the best fit for me for a number of reasons," said Riggs Jr., who is 6-foot tall and weighs 214 pounds. "It came down to the fact that Tennessee was the place I felt most comfortable."

Riggs, who has rushed for 1,273 yards and 21 touchdowns on 140 carries this season, chose the Vols over Nebraska, LSU and Michigan.

October 30-2001
The Vols land Omar Gaither from Charlotte, NC.

I committed to Tennessee last night, said linebacker Omar Gaither.I love the coaching staff. They really made me feel like part of the team. Game day at Tennessee really sold me. The atmosphere is awesome. Plus, I really think I can get a lot of playing time there.
Gaither, from Charlotte (N.C) Meyers High School, is 6-2 and 210 pounds. He bench presses 320 and vertical jumps 32-inches.
RB Bryce Brown the top player in the country will play at Tennessee in 2009.
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