Vols trying to make up ground

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Four-star defensive end Carl Lawson was originally scheduled to visit Tennessee on March 10, but that was before his primary recruiter, Terry Joseph, left the Volunteer coaching staff.

Unfortunately, in the time between March 10 and March 31, when Lawson actually visited Tennessee, SEC foe Auburn was able to secure his commitment. Despite that fact, the Alpharetta, Ga., native still made the trip to Rocky Top.

"I really enjoyed my trip," Lawson told InsideTennessee. "My teammate Josh Harris and I went up there together. It was really fun. I got to meet the whole coaching staff and everyone. It was a good visit."

Earlier in the month the Tennessee coaching staff, namely defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, informed Lawson the he was atop the Vols' board at outside linebacker. Turns out, Sunseri ended up being the highlight of the trip to Knoxville.

"Coach Sunseri is a great coach," he said. "I would probably have to say that he is the best 3-4 outside linebacker coach on the planet. It is awesome how he coaches, and I love the intensity in practice. He is a ridiculously good coach.

"I would probably have to say that (Sal Sunseri) is the best 3-4 outside linebacker coach on the planet."

Carl Lawson

"Overall, coach Sunseri really impressed me along with the practice and the way the players were working. That really stood out to me on my visit to Tennessee."

As the No. 17 defensive end in the country, Lawson has turned the heads of several Scout.com analysts, including national analyst Chad Simmons who notes Lawson's energy level.

"Lawson is a very energetic player on the football field," Simmons said. "He plays with a high motor and he makes those around him better. One of his biggest strengths is his quickness off the ball. He comes off the ball low, he fires off the ball quickly, and he gets to the quarterback in a hurry.

"He also has very good strength and he plays at a good pad level. He is better as a push rusher at this time, but solid against the run."

The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder barely stopped short of going through drills with the Vols on Saturday afternoon on Haslam Field while attending practice as a spectator.

"It was a nice practice," Lawson said. "They were doing a lot of hitting and it was really physical out there. I was glad I got to see that aspect of things. I enjoyed getting in there and really listening to the coaching."

The Milton (Ga.) High School product mingled amongst current players, especially the outside linebacker group, where he fits into Sunseri's new 3-4 defense.

"I talked to Jacques Smith quite a bit," he said. "He plays the JACK outside linebacker position too. I talked to him for a while. He was a pretty cool dude."

Despite the great experience on his visit to Tennessee, the Vols have some serious ground to make up on the Auburn Tigers.

"War Eagle all day," Lawson said of his commitment status. "I just wanted to see what Tennessee is like. That is why I took the visit."

Lawson hopes to visit both the Ole Miss Rebels and Florida Gators in the coming weeks.

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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