Vols bring No. 1 DL target back to campus

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As Tennessee continues to transition its defense from a 4-3 set to the increasingly more popular 3-4 under new coordinator Sal Sunseri.

With that set, the Volunteers must have plenty of stature up the middle to occupy space and blockers. And, the staff on Rocky Top have made it clear to Rod Crayton that they have a spot for him in orange and white filling that role in the future.

Crayton and one of his high school coaches made the trek up to Knoxville on Friday night so they could get an early start on Saturday checking out what Tennessee has to offer.

It was the 6-foot-1, 310-pounder's second unofficial visit to The Hill. He maintains the distance from his Dadeville, Ala., home is of no concern. This trip he got the chance to see the current Volunteers compete in a spring scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

"They work real hard and the coaches expect the best out of them," Crayton told InsideTennessee.

Before hitting the road back to the Heart of Dixie, Crayton spoke one-on-one with Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.

"It went good," Crayton said. "He told me that I'm the No. 1 D-lineman on their board, and he asked me about my time frame on when I wanted to commit to a school. I'm just trying to see what I can right now, but Tennessee is high on my board."

Scout.com has him ranked as the No. 33 defensive tackle in the country and a three-star prospect. Along with UT, he holds offers from the likes of Arizona, Arkansas, Louisville, LSU, Memphis, Michigan, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Penn State, Vanderbilt and Washington State.

Crayton appears to be leaning toward a college career in the Southeastern Conference as he placed LSU and Mississippi State at the top of his list of favorites next to the Vols.

The Dadeville High School product said some members of the Florida coaching staff are high on his skill set, but his height may be something of a concern, preventing them from putting an offer on the table.

He was told by Tennessee coaches that he'd be a nose guard in their 3-4 set. LSU wants to play him at the three technique.

Looking at photos of Crayton, it's easy to see how an opposing offensive lineman could get intimidated.

"I'm one of those quiet players that just likes to do it on the field," he said.

Crayton plans to continue building a base of knowledge in the recruiting game as he checks out one campus after another. He will soon be at Ole Miss and Arkansas (April 21).

Danny Parker is currently the Associate Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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