Much has changed

One prospect who visited for Tennessee's recent Junior Day found the campus virtually unchanged but the football program significantly different.

The last time quarterback Jonathan Wallace of Central-Phenix (Ala.) High School visited The Hill, Phillip Fulmer was the head coach and the Vols were coming off a 10-4 season that included an SEC East title.

The Big Orange has been through two head coaching changes and some difficult days since then, posting records of 5-7, 7-6 and 6-7. Lane Kiffin succeeded Fulmer, Derek Dooley succeeded Kiffin, and a full-blown rebuilding effort is underway. Clearly, the program has evolved considerably since Wallace last visited Knoxville in 2007.

"It has," he said with a grin and a nod.

Even with two changes at the top of the program, however, the core of Tennessee football is the same as always. The tradition is still rich, the facilities are still first-rate, the fans are still rabid, the coaches are still determined to sign quality players and win big.

"I haven't seen too much of a change," Wallace said. "They're very friendly. They want to get to know the players, build that relationship between us. It was like that in the past, so it's not too much of a change."

Neyland Stadium has undergone some alterations since Wallace last visited in '07, and he says Vol coaches promise that more modifications are coming in the near future.

"They talked about the new facilities they have coming in next year," he said. "The visit, all-around, was great. It's a great campus. It was very friendly. We got to meet the coaches, build a relationship with them. We talked football, too, so it was pretty fun."

Wallace liked Tennessee's campus and football program in 2007, and his fondness for both have not changed with the passage of time.

"This is my first time back after a couple of years but I love it," he said. "The tradition here is just great."

After meeting Dooley, Wallace came away impressed with Tennessee's head man.

"He's a nice guy," the prospect said. "He's very straight-forward with what he does. He's a nice guy all-around."

Wallace, who doubles as the starting point guard for his high school basketball team, is versatile enough to play multiple positions in football. Still, he's looking for a college that will give him a shot at quarterback and also give him a quality education.

"First off, academics," he said when asked what factors he most values in a school. "Other than that, playing ball. I really want to extend my talents playing football. Overall, academics, then football, then location-wise."

Wallace says he hasn't gotten many scholarship offers to date but that he is getting a lot of interest from "Oregon, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Auburn ... I can't name all of them."

For what it's worth, Tennessee appears to be among his favorites.

"It's top-notch," he said. "It's one of the best colleges in the nation. I look forward to staying in touch with them."


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