Jelks choosing from 5 in SEC

Given the need for an athletic offensive tackle and to keep in-state prospects home, Tennessee is doing what it can to fight off other schools in pursuit of the signature of three-star prospect Andrew Jelks. Check out what the 6-foot-6 standout had to say to

Tennessee born. Tennessee bred. Tennessee raised.

If there's a high school football prospect in the Class of 2012 that had a Big Orange upbringing it's Andrew Jelks.

The offensive tackle out of Henry County High in Paris is the son of Bill and Debbie Jelks, who both not only attended the University of Tennessee but have also been football season ticket holders since 1982.

After receiving a scholarship offer from Tennessee, several believed Jelks would commit almost immediately, but he is going through the entire process, covering the bases and making sure he makes the right decision.

"It's going good," Jelks told "I've been taking a lot of visits here lately. Recruiting is starting to pick up quite a bit, and I'm just worried about my high school football also."

Jelks lists the five schools he's seen this summer as his final five: Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Internet rumors swirled over the past two weeks that Jelks would join a half dozen other in-state prospects in committing to Vanderbilt. Even though that turned out to not be true, Jelks still considers Nashville and the Commodores a possibility.

"They're one of my top schools," he said. "I believe in what coach (James) Franklin is going to do there. I know they haven't been that good in the past, but they're getting kids like (Brian) Kimbrow and other pretty high recruits that are committing there. So, they're going to be getting better."

All rumors aside, Tennessee offensive line coach Harry Hiestand isn't giving up any ground on the recruitment of Jelks and the two stay in contact regularly. Jelks said the two message back and forth on Facebook almost daily and Jelks calls Hiestand "about every week or so."

He said he does not plan on heading over for the mid-July camp at Tennessee but will take an official visit once the season gets underway, noting that he doesn't have a game he specifically wants to see. Those visits could very well come after he verbally commits to a school.

"I'm going to try to make my decision here in like October, September," said Jelks, a three-star prospect ranked the 43rd best tackle in the country by

One person familiar with the process and understands the pressure of it all is Henry County alum Marsalis Teague, who is entering his junior season as a cornerback with the Volunteers. Teague was committed to Florida for much of his senior year before flipping to UT.

"Me and Marsalis are pretty tight," Jelks said. "We talk quite a bit. We'll text and stuff. He has nothing but positive things to say about UT. He says to go to the school that's going to be best for you. He said don't feel the pressure because you're a Tennessee boy that you have to go to Tennessee. He said don't please everybody else, make sure you go to the school for you."

The last two recruiting classes combined, the Vols have signed 10 offensive linemen. However, Jelks insists that figure means little to nothing to him and is open to the idea of redshirting to add weight to his 6-foot-6, 264-pound frame.

"I don't mind redshirting," said Jelks, who has been told he needs to bulk up to the 290-295-pound range. "That'd be something I'd kind of be in favor for. I talked to coach Hiestand, coach (Derek) Dooley and coach (Jim) Chaney and they sat down with me and they only have three true offensive tackles right now, which is Antonio Richardson, Dallas Thomas and Ja'Wuan (James). That's their only three true tackles, and they're playing like (Alan) Posey and a couple other guys who are inside players playing on the outside and they don't want to do that. They just have to because they don't have any more tackles. So, he says they really, really want me there."

Jelks is taking care of his things in the classroom, carrying a 4.0 GPA with a 22 on the ACT. He will not enroll in college in January.

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