Coach Spotlight: Brendan Downs

Brendan Downs didn't begin playing football until his junior year at Tennessee High School in Bristol. After one season not only had he established himself as one of the Vikings top players, but began fielding offers from major Division 1 football programs. The Tennessee Volunteer signee is already on the campus in Knoxville.

"Brendan came in the summer before his junior year and took over the starting tight end job in pre-season," said Tennessee High School head coach Brad Stubbs. "As the season progressed he kept getting better week after week, started making big plays and good things happened. We never thought he'd come along that quickly, but he played well enough to start catching the attention of college coaches."

Downs, 6-6, 238, committed to play for Duke and David Cutliffe, former Tennessee offensive coordinator and one time tight end position coach. He also was offered by Baylor, Maryland, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State. Then Tennessee came calling.

"They (UT) got on him late," said Stubbs. "After the change of coaches they called me in the spring of his junior year and wanted him to come down with Mack (Crowder) in May. I think he really liked the coaching staff and getting a chance to continue playing with Mack Crowder. They're both pretty good friends."

Going into his senior season, Downs was named to Murphy Fair's pre-season All-State team and was building quite a reputation in East Tennessee. He backed it up with an All- Big 8 Conference performance with 30 catches for 392 yards and four touchdowns and helping the Vikings to a 6-4 record and a berth in the AAA playoffs.

"We took advantage of Brendan's size and used him some on defense side at defensive end," Stubbs said. "We also put him in motion at H-back. He's an aggressive blocker who has good, quick feet and a nice pair of hands. He could easily add another 20 pounds to his frame without losing anything."

Downs graduated in December and has enrolled at Tennessee. He'll partcipate in spring practice and get a head start on learning the playbook.

"Coach Dooley called me and said he was looking good in practice throwing him the football," said Stubbs. "He's going to have to work at it in continuing to develop and learn the game, but I think Tennessee will be able to make him into whatever they want him to be."

A center on the Tennessee Viking basketball team during his sophomore and junior years, Downs began a love affair with the weight room.

"I think it was the work ethic he had in the weight room that not only sold him on football, but also helped in his developing as fast as he did," Stubbs said. "He's a kid that never misses a practice, very dependable, and highly intelligent."

Brendan Downs carried a 3.9 GPA at Tennessee High School. Both of his parents are lawyers in the Bristol area. He wore No. 85 for the Maroon & White Vikings.

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