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What I learned from this weekend

12/12/2011

Tennessee has options

One of the Volunteers' most pressing needs for the 2012 class is at tailback because leading rusher Tauren Poole just completed his senior season and no other back on the Vols roster has shown he's ready to be Tennessee's go-to ball carrier. That leaves a wide open opportunity for a talented signee.

The Volunteers received a commitment from Quenshaun Watson from Athens (Ga.) Clarke Central earlier this month, but they're not done. Tennessee has aggressively pursued other backs, such as Mike Davis from Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson, Greg Garmon from Erie (Pa.) McDowell, I’Tavius Mathers from Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman and Mario Pender from Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast.

Newly hired tailback coach Jay Graham should help the Vols in those efforts.

On a non-tailback note, credit Tennessee's coaches for landing tight end Justin Meredith. The four-star prospect had long been committed to North Carolina but was concerned about the turmoil in Chapel Hill surrounding an NCAA investigation and volatile coaching situation that led to Larry Fedora's hiring last week.

Meredith was as patient as he could be with North Carolina. Finally, he committed to Tennessee, meaning that the Tar Heels lost their highest-rated commitment. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound recruit from Anderson (S.C.) T.L. Hannah intends to enroll at Tennessee in January.

Still, the Vols still have plenty of challenges. They first had to overcome the loss of strong recruiter and respected coach Charlie Baggett then will have to replace assistant Eric Russell, who reportedly left the Vols staff this weekend to join Washington State's staff. Clearly, change is still the norm in Knoxville. The Vols should be used to that.

Currently, Tennessee has 21 commitments for the 2012 class.

Doesn't matter to Marshall

Keith Marshall, the five-star tailback from Raleigh (N.C.) Millbrook, had a starting position set up for him in Clemson with starter Andre Ellington prepared to enter his senior year.

No matter. The nation's second-highest rated tailback committed to his childhood favorite team, Georgia, last week even with Isaiah Crowell seemingly firmly entrenched in the starting position.

“Hopefully I can push him and make him better and he can push me and make me better,” Marshall said.

Whether or not the two push each other remains to be seen. Crowell needs to prove he can stay in the coaches' good graces or the opportunity in Athens for Marshall may resemble the same in Clemson.

Marshall has further shown he's not afraid of competition by calling several other prospects and asking them to help him form the “ring team” in Athens, referring to the 2012 signing class.

All riled up

Riley Ferguson's recruitment continues to gain steam. He has scholarship offers from Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Louisville and, most recently, Notre Dame. The junior completed 184-of-279 passes for 3,345 yards and 48 touchdowns in 2011.

The standout from Matthews (N.C.) Butler has visited Clemson, Virginia Tech and Michigan but said he'll look around a bit more before he starts to whittle down his list.

Ferguson is also hoping to churn up some interest for his big brother, Zach Turner, who was a senior at Butler last season. The two brothers have considered going to the same school, even if Zach has to go as a walk-on.

“It's definitely a possibility,” Zach said. “I know a lot of big schools don't want to look at me because of my speed.”

Zach ran a 4.6-second time last summer which has caused some schools to shy away. He said he's hearing from West Virginia, Duke and Vanderbilt but has yet to land his first scholarship offer.

Wrong Way for Wright?

Yuri Wright's Sunday afternoon Facebook post couldn't have made Colorado's coaches feel confident in their chances of landing the four-star cornerback.

“Pretty boring night last night out here in Colorado. Headed home in a couple of hours can't wait to get back...” the nation's 40th best prospect in the nation stated on the social networking site on Sunday afternoon.

The 6-1, 185-pound standout from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco is considering a number of schools but has offered little hints as to where he's leaning. California, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Notre Dame and Rutgers are thought to be some of the most prominent programs in contention.

No ducking

D.J. Humpries won't be the last top prospect at Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek, according to head coach Mike Palmeiri.

Palmieri said recruiters should keep an eye on several junior prospects, including athlete Anthony Covington, receiver Marquez North, defensive back Eric Henderson, receiver Jorian Jordan, defensive back Brian Walker, defensive lineman Brandon Fowler, offensive line Tevin Lawshe and sophomore defensive back Jaylen Samuels.