Versatility Counts

Because he likes multiple tight end sets, Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley gradually planned to phase out the fullback position. Now there may be a change in plans.

Channing Fugate was so impressive as a freshman fullback last fall that the Vols may continue recruiting to the position. As fate would have it, there's a pretty good prospect right here within the state's boundaries.

Caleb Counts is a 6-0, 225-pounder from Henry County High in Paris, the same school that produced Vol cornerback Marsalis Teague. What makes Counts especially intriguing is the fact he has the versatility to play tight end and H-back, as well as fullback.

"Last year I was a true tight end but everybody's looking at me as a fullback/motion type of guy," Counts said during an unofficial visit to the UT campus earlier this summer. "My high school is going to play me mostly at fullback but motion me around. They're going to split me out wide a little bit and just let me go get the ball."

Counts relishes playing a position that allows him to be deployed in a variety of ways. He figures anything that gets the ball in his hands is fine with him.

"I like it," he said. "That's my favorite. I like to go out there and compete."

Counts says he recorded 16 catches for around 200 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. He did not carry the ball last fall but expects to tote the rock quite a bit this fall.

Several colleges think Counts may project as a better defensive prospect at the next level.

"Some schools have talked about defense," he said. "Arkansas State is talking about using me at the 5 technique (end) or maybe as a linebacker."

Counts played some defense as a sophomore but played exclusively tight end as a junior. He expects to play on both sides of the scrimmage line as a senior this fall.

"I started out there but we've got so many kids ..." he said, not finishing the thought. "This year I'm going to play some defense."

Counts participated in Tennessee's June camp and enjoyed the experience thoroughly.

"I liked the intensity," he said. "I liked the coaches and I like the facilities. Overall, I just loved the camp. It was great."

Asked what he's looking for in a college, he replied: "Academics is one. Closeness to home and a good football program."

Counts says Vols coaches video-taped all of the the camp drills, so they could take a longer look at some of the prospects.

"They said they'd evaluate it and get back to us, tell us how we did and let us know where we're at," he said. "They worked me both at fullback and tight end. Basically, I was the motion H-back type of guy that they're wanting."

Counts is no stranger to the UT campus. He previously visited The Hill in 2005, when his grandfather served as head coach for the Tennessee-Kentucky all-star game.

Visit No. 2 was a lot more meaningful. Counts hopes he caught the eye of Tennessee's staff during the camp.

"I enjoyed it a lot," he said. "It was fun. I worked with the tight ends coach (Eric Russell) and the offensive coordinator (Jim Chaney), the running backs coach (Chino Fontenette) and (offensive line) Coach Harry Hiestand.

Whether the Vols offer a scholarship or not, Counts is pleased that he participated in their camp and pleased with his performance.

"I feel good about how I worked out," he said.

Counts also has visited or planned unofficial visits to UT-Chattanooga, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Cincinnati and Arkansas State.

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