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Thursday, May 2, 2013
Vols back in Peach State?

By Dave Hooker

It's a trio of signees that Tennessee fans hold almost as dear at the color orange, Neyland Stadium or Smokey.

When safety Deon Grant, offensive lineman Cosey Coleman and running back Jamal Lewis signed with the Vols in 1997, it led to two SEC titles and a national championship in 1998. Yet it meant almost as much when they signed. For a rare time in Tennessee's football history, it could stroll into Georgia and take prospects the Bulldogs wanted.

Can it happen again? After the commitment of offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. from Duluth (Ga.) Peachtree on Thursday, it at least seems possible. First-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones is banking on success in the Peach State.

"It is critical for a number of reasons, including proximity, caliber of player, and great high school coaching," Jones said. "You are getting an individual with high character and great competitive spirit. If you look at the great Tennessee teams, they typically feature a strong presence of talented players from the state of Georgia."

Tennessee is in great position to land more Georgia prospects that the Bulldogs also covet, such as safety Cortez McDowell from Locust Grove (Ga.) High. Many believe McDowell is leaning towards Tennessee and could commit soon.

The Volunteers are also in the running for Evan and Elliot Berry from Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside. Elliot is a linebacker. Evan is an athlete prospect. They are the two younger brothers of Tennessee All-American safety Eric Berry, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.