NCF On The Trail: Tennessee football

Vols add junior college DT Lambert

August, 13, 2013
The Tennesee Volunteers continue to be one of the hottest teams in recruiting.

The Vols landed commitment No. 24 on Tuesday from junior college defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military).

The 6-foot-2, 275-pound interior defensive lineman chose the Vols over offers from Florida, Auburn, Miami and Georgia, among others. Lambert announced his decision via Twitter and later confirmed his decision via text message.

The SEC is known for having big physical linemen on both sides of the ball. With Lambert's size and athleticism, he should help contribute early in his career in Knoxville.

Lambert becomes the fourth junior-college prospect to commit to the Vols, joining wide receiver Kameel Jackson (Arlington, Texas/Blinn College), outside linebacker Chris Weatherd (Carrolton, Texas/Trinity Valley CC) and wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College)

Tennessee, which holds the No. 3-ranked class in the country, has 10 commitments in the ESPN 300 and 11 commits ranked as four-stars.

Jerome Dews talks Tennessee verbal

June, 27, 2013
Sleeper outside linebacker Jerome Dews (Oxon Hill, Md./Potomac), a 6-foot-3, 197-pound prospect, committed this week to sign with Tennessee, according to multiple reports.

Prior to receiving the Volunteers' offer, Dews was only holding scholarships from lesser-known programs such as Delaware, Hampton, James Madison, Robert Morris, St. Francis and Temple.

"For them to be an SEC school and take that chance on me with me having no other big offers shows they're nothing but real people," he told the Washington Post. "They don't care about publicity and all that stuff, the politics. They like me, and they don't care about none of that other stuff."

Dews continued, "Man, I love everything about Tennessee. I just love the coaches. … You don't usually fall in love that quick. It's crazy. I can't even explain how happy I am."

Last season, he recorded 14 sacks and caught 15 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.

This spring, Dews registered an electronically-timed 5.47 40-yard dash, 4.22 20-yard shuttle, 25.7-inch vertical and 31-foot power throw at a Nike event.

He is commitment No. 17 for the Volunteers.

Christian Morris likes Butch Jones' hiring 

December, 7, 2012
Offensive tackle Christian Morris said he approves of Tennessee's decision to hire Butch Jones from Cincinnati.

The three-star prospect from Memphis (Tenn.) East knows that staff better than most. He was recruited by Bearcats coach Mark Elder. Cincinnati has had a significant recruiting presence in Memphis, aggressively pursuing the city's top talent.

That could pay dividends for Jones at Tennessee, as the Vols struggled with recruiting in Memphis with coach Derek Dooley, who was fired this month.

Morris is committed to UCLA but said he has recently taken a long look at the Volunteers. He has also expressed interest in Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Jordan Wilkins talks new SEC coaches 

December, 7, 2012
Jordan Wilkins knows much more about his recruitment than he did a week ago. Yet he has a lot to learn.

At least the four-star tailback from Cordova (Tenn.) St. Benedict knows who will be the head coach at two schools he is considering: Auburn and Tennessee. The Volunteers hired former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones on Friday. The Tigers hired former Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn earlier this week.

When asked about Jones shortly after the announcement, Wilkins said, "I don't know much about the coach."

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Top dual-threat QB takes note of Jones 

December, 7, 2012
Asiantii Woulard could soon be on Tennessee's recruiting radar -- if he isn't already.

"I wanna see what Coach Jones does with #Tennessee, great program!" the nation's top dual-threat quarterback tweeted shortly after the Vols hired Butch Jones from Cincinnati on Friday.

Woulard committed to South Florida in February, but he backed off of his commitment in April before recommitting to the program in June. He then decommitted this month. He was also considering Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse, Purdue and Ole Miss.

Jones had been recruiting Woulard to Cincinnati. The Vols have one quarterback committed for the 2012 class: Riley Ferguson (Matthews, N.C./Butler). He is considered a pocket passer.

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ESPN 300 QB Riley Ferguson talks Vols 

November, 14, 2012
Riley Ferguson (Matthews, N.C./Butler) isn't worried about a potential coaching change at Tennessee.

Sure, he'd like to play for the coaches he has grown to know so well, namely coach Derek Dooley, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and running backs coach Jay Graham, who has been his primary recruiter. However, Ferguson picked Tennessee in June for more reasons than just a coaching staff.

"It really doesn't affect me," the ESPN 300 quarterback said of the turmoil in Knoxville concerning Dooley's future. "I'm going there for the school not just the coaches. The coaches are a reason I'm going there but if there's a coaching change, I'm still going to most likely going to go there because of the school, how I liked it when I was there, the people that were there and the atmosphere."

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Chauntez Jackson is all Volunteers 

October, 13, 2012

The Tennessee coaching staff was on the road Saturday morning, preparing for a game at Mississippi State, when it received some big news via a phone call from Chauntez Jackson (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood).

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound athlete decided he had seen enough of the recruitment process and committed to the Volunteers.

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High-profile visitors head to Knoxville 

September, 12, 2012
Tennessee will host several visitors for Saturday's game against Florida. Most will be unofficial visits. One of the headliners is clearly Derrick Green, the four-star tailback from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage High School, who'll be taking his first official visit.

Green is scheduled to visit Michigan in October. He has also said he'll visit Auburn and is considering Oregon, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech.

Here are some other prospects scheduled to be in Knoxville this weekend:

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While 25 top quarterbacks from the 2013 recruiting class spent the weekend in California showcasing their skills at the Elite 11 finals, a talented Los Angeles area quarterback in the 2014 class took the opportunity to head across the country to visit two traditional powers.

Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) and several family members had an opportunity to take in the sights this past weekend at Tennessee and Alabama. The visit to Tennessee was his first trip to a college campus that came complete with a tour and opportunity to meet a college coaching staff, and the 6-foot-3, 199-pound quarterback was impressed.

“It surpassed my expectations,” Dawkins said. “It was really great out there.”

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In June, ESPN 150 running back Derrick Henry decommitted from Georgia after visiting the University of Alabama. He consequently named the Crimson Tide his leader. Henry returned to Tuscaloosa over the weekend for one more visit this summer at head coach Nick Saban’s request.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Henry
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comFlorida tailback Derrick Henry has Alabama on top.
“It was fun,” Henry said. “Coach Saban wanted me to get up there one more time just to be around the coaches and be with all of the players and stuff, so we can get that chemistry. I had a real good time.”

The Yulee, Fla., native has not made a decision on his commitment, but it might have seemed he had when he was hanging out with Tide players Kenyan Drake, Geno Smith and Vinnie Sunseri. He and Sunseri spent the most time together.

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Oxford, Ala., running back Racean Thomas already camped once this summer at the University of Alabama, but he returned Sunday to compete in the Crimson Tide’s second prospect camp.

The visit also gave him a chance to bring along his father, and the two continued to develop relationships with the UA coaching staff.

“It was a pretty fun camp,” Thomas said. “I got to know a lot of the coaches. Me and my dad went up there. I got him introduced to some of the coaches that I’ve met, and he got to know them a little bit more.

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Derek Dooley apparently just needed some time to think about it.

Tennessee's head coach called and offered a scholarship to Davidson Day (N.C.) quarterback Will Grier as the quarterback was driving home after Tuesday's camp on the Vols' campus. Dooley and Grier met after Wednesday's camp but the Vols' head man didn't offer immediately. Now, with a Tennessee offer, Grier has five scholarship offers to consider.

“The thing that stands out is the amazing facilities and they’re building new ones,” the 2014 prospect said when asked what he liked about the visit. “They are building a brand new facility that we got to see the plans for. It's amazing.”

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Malcolm Drewery still remembers hearing the chatter about the new guy who transferred from DeMatha Catholic School.

Paul Harris, who committed to Tennessee last week, was pegged to be a standout football player and track star. So Drewery went to the football field to see what he had to work with.

“I went out to one one of the games to check him out,” said Drewery, whom Harris calls "Pops."

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2014 S Jalen Tabor talks Tennessee 

July, 17, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The first school to offer Jalen Tabor a scholarship was duly impressive.

“It's perfect,” the 2014 safety prospect from Washington (D.C.) Friendship said of Tennessee's campus after visiting for a camp Tuesday. “It's perfect for what I would like to do.”

Tabor also appreciated the fact that the Vols extended him his first scholarship offer. He now has several. He also said he likes Tennessee's coaches and that their energy even reminds him of his high school head coach, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Victor Wharton III didn't receive the scholarship offer he was hoping for, but the trip to Tennessee's campus was worthwhile nonetheless.

The athlete from Nashville (Tenn.) Christ Presbyterian showed up in Knoxville and was placed at cornerback, one of the handful of positions he could play in college. His performance caught Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley's eye.

“I thought I performed well,” Wharton III said. “Coach Dooley thought I did well too. I didn't have any balls caught one me and I had an interception.”

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