Building the bond

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After hitting the combines and camps and receiving a scholarship offer that felt right, Justin King did what a commitment is supposed to do — stay committed.

The outside linebacker from Dunwoody, Ga., hasn't wavered once through his senior season or amidst the recruiting process in spite of still hearing from other schools and even though his team of choice, Tennessee, saw three of its four coaches on the defensive side of the ball head elsewhere.

King tripped to Tennessee's campus in Knoxville in the summer, for the Georgia game on Oct. 8 and took his official visit this past weekend. He seemed to make the trip more about his recruiting class and the program than himself.

"I'd seen a lot of the stuff," King told InsideTennessee.com. "I was just kind of staying with all my different teammates. A lot of us had been up there already. So, I think we just started having that bond for each other and started mingling and making sure we hung out with some of the recruits."

He was hosted by rising sophomore tight end Cameron Clear and spent time with other current Volunteers like Curt Maggitt and Brian Randolph.

A dozen prospects were on The Hill to hear the recruiting pitch from Vol coach Derek Dooley and his staff, including uncommitted players Davante' Bourque, Richie Brown, Korren Kirven, Justin Shanks and Demetrius Wilson. The other seven players are pledged to Tennessee.

"They were making sure that the guys that are coming in are happy with their decision," King noted of what was said from the UT staff. "That's a question they were asking us a lot: 'Are you happy? How are you feeling?' Just making sure that we're satisfied and that Tennessee is our last stop. I think a lot of us fell in love with the coaching staff and the teammates that we'll have in the future."

King enjoyed the message a great deal and felt his fellow Class of 2012 members did their part to expand the class. Some of that paid dividends when Bourque verbally committed on Sunday.

"I think everybody is excited and we accomplished a lot when Davanté committed earlier (Sunday)," said King, who is the third-longest committed player behind Tino Thomas and Drae Bowles.

The 6-foot-3 ½ , 220-pounder has been working at building a relationship with fellow outside linebacker Otha Peters, who was in town as well.

"Actually, we talk over Twitter a lot," King said. "He was the first person I ran into at the hotel. Me and Otha, we have started to bond. He was working with Davanté and hanging out with him a lot. When me and Otha saw each other we started talking, but we really wanted him to talk to Davanté with both of them being from Louisiana. That would be a great fit for both of them to room together.

"I think Davanté really enjoyed Otha being there and experiencing the same things that he's experiencing. I think that played into Davanté's decision. Otha and Davanté really enjoyed the team and future teammates."

It is 143 miles down on the bayou between Bourque's Louisiana home in Crowley and Peters' hometown of Covington.

Peters wasn't the only 'backer that King spent some time with as he and some other future teammates did their best to make Richie Brown feel comfortable.

"I think Richie really enjoyed himself. I think the guys in our class really showed Richie a good time. We all hung out and did things together. I think we all bonded. Everybody said that it feels like we're already there. This class feels like a bonded class. We were all joking around and playing around with each other.

"We ran into Nathan Peterman, Alden Hill. Seeing these guys for the first time, it felt like we've grown up with these people. It was a lot of fun and a lot of joking around. This class is about business when we go in there and that's one thing I've been trying to tell everybody. We just want to start this big bonding for the next 4-5 years that we're staying with each other so we can be successful as a team."

Another key component of the trip was sitting down with defense coordinator Sal Sunseri, who was hired only hours before recruits made their way to town.

"Oh man, I talked to coach (Sunseri), and he's an amazing coach," King said. "I think he's really going to change this program around. He has energy and a motor. Just talking to him, he's a guy that really cares about his future players and cares about current players.

"Coach, he's amazing. I can tell by his energy that we're going to have a great season. He's going to bring a lot of energy to the practice field and to the game."

Speculation has run rampant about what base formation Tennessee will run defensively this fall. Will it be the traditional 4-3? A switch to the 3-4?

"Defensive-wise, I'm not sure what they're settling (on formation-wise). It's probably going to be multiple, but right now I don't know for sure," King said.

The Dunwoody High School standout reiterated that his letter of intent will reach Dooley on National Signing Day on Feb. 1. His school is working on finding a way to broadcast its signing ceremony on the Internet.

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