Alumni Analysis: Recruiting reflection

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In ‘Alumni Analysis,' fans will be able to hear from former gridiron Vols on various issues concerning the Orange and White. Read as we bring you in-depth analysis from former Vols Terry Fair, Jabari Davis and Eric Westmoreland.

Terry Fair

Q:What was the recruiting process like for you?

A:I think the recruiting process started off fun. I saw my brother go through it when he played basketball at UCONN. He was an All-American safety as well in football. I have seen so many head coaches come to my living room and sit down. I got to be a part of it early so when my time came I couldn't wait.

It is an exciting time in your life. It feels good to be wanted first of all. I think when you begin to be recruited, especially by big schools, it just lets you know that you have put in the hard work and time to be recognized by some of those schools. I think as it goes on and it winds down you begin to think about the next four years of your life, how important it is going to be and where you are going to spend that time. I think the most important thing for me was where was I going to go for four years and being around guys that I was comfortable with.

I think on my visits I wanted to see what guys I was going to be most comfortable around, where I could fit in well and what coaches I could learn from and learn their system. I wanted to play in some big-time games, being in Phoenix, for me and my family it was always about playing big-time ball and playing on TV a lot in big conferences.

Q: Being from Arizona, how big of a factor was distance in your recruitment?

A:I think with my brother going and playing basketball for UCONN, we always wanted to play in the best conferences, whether that be at home or not. Being from Phoenix, we wanted to say that we were the first to do this. I think my brother was the first to play basketball in the Big East, I was one of the first to play in the SEC, so I think being that first and knowing that you are going to play in one of the biggest and best conferences in America, I don't think the distance was a problem. I think that my mom understood that we always wanted to do that, so she was with us 100 percent with whatever decision that I made.

I think, for me, I got to school probably a week before all the other freshmen, of course Peyton was here all summer, but that whole week was the worst for me being here and not having anyone around. I think I slept 20 hours out of the day and just reflected on home and being off by myself. Then when all the guys got here everything changed. You began to grow and become men with all those guys. After that it was fine. I think the biggest thing about it was my family was able to see me on TV each and every week. I knew that if I wasn't going to be close to home that I wanted them to be able to see me on TV.

Q:Did you feel like you committed to Tennessee or did you commit to your recruiter or coach? How close was that relationship and how much was it a factor in your recruitment?

A:Lovie Smith and Larry Marmie recruited me out of Arizona and I think a lot of these kids know of the schools, but I don't think anyone says ‘I am going to school because it is Tennessee.' You have to have someone that is constantly in your ear developing that relationship. I think the guy that is recruiting you, the better that your relationship is with him the more you are going to want to go to that school because you have to feel comfortable with your coaches.

There are some big-time programs out there that everyone recognizes, but it has to be someone that you want to go there and play for or it has to be someone that says all the right things to get you there. First and foremost, I think it is about the relationships that you build with the coaching staff and the guys that have recruited you. You already know about the school and if it is a school that is nationally relevant, but I think the icing on the cake is the relationship that you build with your recruiter.

Jabari Davis

Q:What was the recruiting process like for you?

A:It was a wild process going into my senior year because I was ranked and I did all the camps and combines. I put myself on the grid and I was a part of all the top players coming out of that class. It was a fun experience because you got a lot of attention and it was cool going through the magazines and seeing your name. Then you go to see FoxSports Countdown to Signing Day and all those shows and seeing your interviews and stuff like that. You got to meet a lot of other great players at camps and different football events. I would say my best memories were going on all my visits and having fun with all the top players being recruited.

The most challenging thing for me was when you narrowed your schools down to your top four or top five and you have been talking about ten schools. When you had to tell them that you weren't interested in their school any more, that was hard for me. I had my mom and my dad take care of that for me. I appreciated everything that each school did for me, but it was too hard for me to tell them that I didn't want to go to their school. Other than that I enjoyed it all a lot.

Q:Did you feel like you committed to Tennessee or did you commit to your recruiter or coach? How close was that relationship and how much was it a factor in your recruitment?

A:It was a big rollercoaster ride between Georgia and Tennessee for me. At first it was Georgia, Tennessee and Texas because I was a big Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams fan, but I knew if I went to Texas my Mom and Dad wouldn't see me much. I am a big family guy and I like to go home and I knew that was going to be a problem, so I narrowed it down to Tennessee in Georgia in the last couple of months.

One thing that I see now that I didn't see back then is a lot of kids commit early. When I committed to Tennessee about a week or two before signing day my position coach recruited me and he had a really big impact on me making my decision. He had a great resume of what he had done with a lot of other great backs, particularly Jamaal Lewis, Travis Henry and all those guys. My family just felt like, for the next couple of years, that Tennessee was going to be the best fit for me and he was a big part of that.

Q:What is it like to see a former Volunteer like Jay Graham on the staff and how much can that aide Derek Dooley's staff in recruiting the running backs position?

A:I definitely think that it will add a big spark to it. Jay actually coached me my last year there. He was a graduate assistant and the assistant running backs coach, so I had about six months working with Jay. He taught me a lot of great things and even though he was an assistant we had a lot of respect for him because he was Jay Graham. He played at the highest level and he helped build Tennessee into that dynasty football program that they had become. He had played in the NFL and he was a great back. He would also get on me, he was more north south, and he would always get onto me ‘hey I don't know why you think you can do all these moves, you are 240 pounds, go run some people over.' He would always get onto me and he helped me out with a lot of different things.

We respected him because you have have a great IQ at that position and nothing is better for a coach than if they played the position. I think recruits will see that in Jay and it can help in recruiting in a big way. I think he is a huge addition to the staff and we are going to see a new level of backs next year because he is going to light a fire under their butts.

Eric Westmoreland

Q:What was the recruiting process like for you?

A:It started out as a slow process because recruiting then was nothing like it is now with all the Internet coverage and everything like that. It was a really slow process, going into my senior year I had about four or five schools that I was narrowing it down to, which was Tennessee, Alabama, Notre Dame, Miami and Clemson. It ended up coming down to Tennessee and Alabama for the simple reason that where I am from, in the Marion County community, you are either a Tennessee fan or an Alabama fan. It ended up being between those two schools that I was going to chose from.

Q:Living in a town like that, how much pressure was there from people around you to go one way or there other?

A:It was kind of crazy because I had different people from my community that were obviously Vol fans and then on the other end there were Alabama fans. It was a difficult situation for me at that age, but I just had to block all that out and do what was best for my family and me. That's what I did and Tennessee was that choice.

Q:Did you feel like you committed to Tennessee or did you commit to your recruiter or coach? How close was that relationship and how much was it a factor in your recruitment?

A:I really felt that I committed to the players that were already on the team. I had a good time at Alabama when I went on my visit and then when I went to Tennessee there were obviously a lot of guys from Tennessee that I knew. There was Al Wilson, who was from Jackson, there was Antron Peebles, who was from Murfreesboro Riverdale, so those guys were key in my decision. It was the guys that were there that made me feel like a part of the family and a part of the school. That was a big thing that I made my choice on.

No. 13 Terry Fair: Defensive back and return specialist 1994-1997. Fair started as a freshman for the Vols and never looked back. He recorded 163 tackles, 11 interceptions and returned two punts for touchdowns. Fair was selected in the first round of the NFL by the Detroit Lions and spent eight years in the league.

No. 34 Jabari Davis: Running back 2001-2004. Davis rushed for 1,228 yards for the Orange and White and got to the checkerboard 22 times for the Vols. Davis spent one season in the NFL with the Chicago Bears.

No. 42 Eric Westmoreland: Linebacker 1997-2000. Westmoreland was a pivotal player in Tennessee's '98 National Championship game. He finished second in tackles that season with 79. His career stats totaled 253 tackles and 34 tackles for loss. The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Westmoreland in the third round of the NFL Draft.

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