Canes in Battle For 5-Star LB

Josh Tatum suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this season but that's not about to slow down the 5-star linebacker.

"I'm rehabbing Monday through Friday," Tatum said. "I have one of the best surgeons. He does a lot of the pro athletes from Yao Ming to Barry Sanders to Terrell Owens."

After suffering the injury in late September, Tatum had surgery on October 2. He provided an update.

"My knee is feeling really good," he said. "I've been off crutches for two weeks. I'm walking with a brace on. I'm walking without a limp with the brace. I'm shooting for a return of early February. Then I'll just work with trainers and get ready, train hard for college."

Josh Tatum, 6-1 1/2 and 225 pounds, is still one of the most heavily recruited linebacker prospects in the entire country.

"Recruiting is going really good," he said. "I feel like I'm in a blessed situation. Everyone that committed to giving me an offer are still there. I have a top three of USC, Miami, and Tennessee. I go to USC on December 2nd, Miami on November 19th, and I took a trip to Tennessee when they played Georgia."

The talented linebacker spoke more about that first visit to Knoxville.

"It was a nice visit," he said. "It's a cool city, a great stmoephere. They have real loyal fans. The facilities were awesome. All the players were cool and down to earth. I'm friends with Kevin Simon. I've known him for three years."

Next up on the visit schedule is Miami. He was scheduled to be at UM in October but Hurricane Wilma changed those plans.

"They're doing their thing," he said. "They had a big win (Saturday night). I was really impressed. They're trying to get me out there."

Tatum spoke more about the big win the Hurricanes posted over the Hokies on Saturday.

"Miami just had the swagger," he said. "They really came to play. The defense looked amazing. Their linebackers are real fast and physical. They look like they play with a lot of passion. That fits well with how I play. I was looking at how they move their linebackers around a lot. They'll put them over the tight end, let them run with the backs. It looks like a great situation."

Tatum is being recruited by linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves but he also speaks to Larry Coker and Randy Shannon from time to time.

"Coach Hargreaves is the one I talk to most," he said. "I've talked to Coach Coker about three times. He was actually the first coach to call me after my injury, saying they were honoring my scholarship and that they've had many guys overcome that."

Despite his obvious interest in UM and Tennessee, the USC Trojans are just five hours down the road. He talked about what he likes about them.

"The overall environment is cool," he said. "They have a great coaching staff and they're winning national championships. They're doing something right. They know how to win. Coach Carroll being a defensive guru, he knows how to use his players. Academic wise, USC's a great school."

When asked about the distance factor that could be involved, Tatum had something interesting to say about that.

"It's not so much (an issue)," he said. "I'm taking these visits by myself to see what it's like to get away from my loved ones. I just need to find the situation best for me because they're all good."

The talented senior, who is qualified academically, says he is being recruited to play will linebacker.

"That's what they're saying," he said. "That way I can use my speed to get to the ball."

Cal and Michigan are on the outside looking in at this point.

"I was gonna go (to Michigan) for a visit but when I got injured, I couldn't make the trip," he said. "Cal is in December. Their defensive coordinator is doing a really good job this season."

Tatum, who isn't ready to single out a favorite, plans on making a final decision shortly after his visit to USC.

"I'm making my decision on ESPNU in December," he said. "It's scheduled after the USC visit."

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