"Oh, man! De is in love with Tyler Bray," Ralph Arnett, DeAnthony's older brother, told InsideTennessee by phone from Saginaw. "We knew Tyler Bray was good because when Lane Kiffin was recruiting him he told us Bray was really good. So, we knew Bray was good; he just needed his chance. He got his chance and he ran with it."
Tennessee loses senior receivers Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones at the end of this season. Hunter projects to succeed Moore as the primary deep threat. Arnett hopes to assume Jones' role as the slot receiver.
"The way the Tennessee coaches are talking, they see him filling the Gerald Jones role as a guy that can do everything - play outside, play inside, stretch the field, be that playmaker, that big third-down guy," Ralph Arnett said. "When you double-team Justin over the top you're going to have De coming at you in the slot.
"We're fired up, man. This is going to be a great opportunity for De to showcase his skills in the greatest conference in America."
Ralph Arnett said Tennessee wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett is in Saginaw today for a follow-up meeting with DeAnthony, who committed to the Vols on Nov. 10. Watching the dramatic progress Vol receivers made under Baggett's guidance this fall was a key factor in Arnett's decision.
"De sees what those other guys are doing, and he hopes to get the opportunity to compete and learn from one of the best," Ralph Arnett said. "De just wants to learn from Day One from a great coach, and he feels like Baggett is the perfect guy to do that. There's nobody out there with a better resume. It was obvious that Justin, Da'Rick and the other receivers really came a long way."
In fact, Tennessee's entire team came a long way. After a sluggish 2-6 start, the Vols swept their last four regular-season games to finish 6-6 and become bowl eligible. DeAnthony was duly impressed by the rally.
"He loved it, man," Ralph said. "He sees the future him, Justin and Da'rick have with all of those other recruits coming in. The future is bright. It's huge, man."
Certainly, DeAnthony Arnett's future appears bright. He was one of the breakout performers at Tennessee's 2009 summer camp, even though he and Ralph were a bit weary following an eight-hour drive down from Saginaw the night before.
"When he gets there and the competition gets tough, it will bring out the best in DeAnthony," Ralph said. "I thought De was gassed at the Kiffin camp two years ago but he turned it on the second half of the day. That's when I first began to think he could be something special. He's just getting better and better and better."
Apparently so. Even playing for a Saginaw High squad that went 1-8 and featured just four seniors this fall, Arnett managed to put up some big numbers.
"He had over 700 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns on 38 catches," Ralph said. "Altogether, he was responsible for 17 total touchdowns, I believe. He ran back three on kickoff returns, one on a punt return, ran for a touchdown at quarterback and also threw for two touchdowns."
The Arnett brothers are hoping to attend one of Tennessee's upcoming bowl practices. They also hope to bring one of the top prospects in the 2012 recruiting class with them.
"We'll be back on campus sometime because DeAnthony wants to see a live practice," Ralph said. "We may come down with another receiver Tennessee is recruiting, Corey Smith. He's from Ohio and is probably the top receiver in the Midwest for next year."
Smith and his Akron Buchtel High School teammates play for the state championship on Saturday. He caught 60 passes for more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this fall. Like DeAnthony Arnett, Smith is a 6-0, 175-pounder with superior quickness.
"He's the spitting image of DeAnthony," Ralph Arnett said. "When him and De were at the Michigan camp I thought he was DeAnthony when he ran a route."