Santos: 'I love Tennessee no matter what'

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Working out at Under Armour All-American football practice should be a time to get to know fellow top prospects, fine tune your game and relax in the gorgeous Florida sunshine.

Tennessee commitment Dalton Santos was on his to having such a week until he walked off the practice field Monday and learned that his primary recruiter, linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, was leaving to join the staff at Washington — along with defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.

Surprised?

"Yeah, just a little bit, but, you know, it happens," said Santos, who is Scout.com's No. 4 middle linebacker in the country.

Given how important Sirmon and his seven years of NFL experience were to Santos' selection of the Vols over schools like Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas A&M, it would seem apparent that the Van, Texas, native would be more willing to look around.

"I just found out," Santos said. "I'm going to have to gather my thoughts and think about this a little bit. That's a big shock to me."

"It's tough you know. I don't really know what to say right now. I'm still thinking about it. Just walking off the field and just now finding out about it, that's a big shock to you. I've got some time today to think about it a little bit it and see what my thoughts are."

If Tennessee and coach Derek Dooley want to secure the signature of Santos and some other recruits that were brought to Knoxville with Sirmon as their primary recruiting coach, filling the three vacant positions before National Signing Day could be vital.

"I love Tennessee no matter what," Santos said. "Even with coach Sirmon not there, I fell in love with that place and not just that coach. I love the facilities, I love the town, I love everything about it. I need to just think about it a little bit and look at some things."

While the 6-foot-2, 240-pounder certainly looked completely caught off guard by the news, he didn't react in haste and was respectful of the decision made by both Sirmon and Wilcox.

"Right now I'm a Tennessee Vol, for sure. We'll just see what happens, Santos said.

Prior to Monday's events, InsideTennessee caught up with Santos for an interview after the first UAAA practice in preparation for Thursday night's game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Check out what the middle linebacker had to say by clicking on the video below:


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