'I love that orange'

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It takes a special athlete to attract the attention of college recruiters at the ripe age of 16, but that is exactly what Reilly Gibbons has managed to do.

Gibbons, who visited Tennessee unofficially with St. Petersburg Catholic (Fla.) High School teammate and best friend Ryan Green on Monday, was officially offered by Tennessee's special teams and tight ends coach Charlie Coiner. It was his first Division I offer.

"We weren't expecting anything, but it was kind of a last minute thing," Gibbons said of his visit with his father Shannon. "I really wanted to meet my tight ends coach and we went down to meet him in his office.

"We were just kind of talking casually and then he brought up my offer in casual conversation and I was like ‘Wow.' It was so surreal. I got myself some nice shorts and a shirt. I love that orange."

The 6-foot-6, 242-pounder is also fielding interest from the likes of Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, South Florida and Vanderbilt. Gibbons has already seen a number of school showing interest, but Rocky Top blew him away.

"I got to see the stadium and it was ridiculously huge," he said. "I have never been scared of heights before until I went up to the club level. I barely went out to the edge to take a picture it was so high.

"I want to see the team as a family and not just a bunch of good athletes thrown together."

Reilly Gibbons

"We went to see the locker room and it was just immaculate. There has been no comparison to the ones I have seen already. They have a lot going on there."

Gibbons, who wears a size 15 shoe, is being recruited by wide receivers coach and new recruiting coordinator Darin Hinshaw, but the rising junior's excitement came from the tight end coaching experience on the Vols' staff.

"Coach Coiner is in his first year at Tennessee," Gibbons said. "He has been in college football before, but he is just back from the NFL. He is a great coach and a good guy.

"One of the cool things that he told us was that he, the offensive coordinator (Jim Chaney) and coach (Derek) Dooley have all been tight ends coaches at the NFL level."

The Sunshine State product is the embodiment of student athlete, reporting a core GPA of 3.9.

"I am always evaluating the school for academics and not just the football program," Gibbons said. "I want to study law and I need a good law school. I also want to see the team as a family and not just a bunch of good athletes thrown together. That is really meaningful to me."

Gibbons, Green and the Barons are coming off a rough two-win season in 2011. The tight end reeled in eight receptions for 83 yards as a sophomore.

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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