Zanca back on The Hill

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The evolution of college-football recruiting is non-stop. One glaring difference between the past and the present is how early prospects are verbally committing.

Sure, some of the more heavily-recruited players will take their decisions through the entire process before making their intentions known on National Signing Day. However, it's becoming increasingly more prevalent for them to pull the trigger before their senior seasons commence.

When Tennessee landed Dominic Zanca back on April 20, he was the sixth target to offer his pledge in the Class of 2013.

The Altamonte Springs, Fla., native spoke with InsideTennessee on Monday. He was back on The Hill with his family, including his mother and sister, because they didn't see the campus last trip and he wanted them "to see what Tennessee is all about."

The three-star linebacker gave his thoughts on how his life has altered some since putting on a Tennessee hat.

"Well, it's an honor," Zanca said. "It's a lot easier on my recruiting for football. I don't have to worry about nothin'. I can just focus on the season and then getting up here as soon as possible."

His last time up to Knoxville with his father was for the Orange & White game.

"It was crazy to see that many people go just for a scrimmage. I've never seen that," Zanca said.

"It was cool. I got to watch the defense and see the scheme that they run. It looked to me like they blitzed a lot, and I like blitzing so that'll be good."

As a visitor for the Orange & White game, Zanca got the chance to see how future teammate A.J. Johnson (45) operates in the Tennessee defense.
(Danny Parker/
Leading the charge to get Zanca donning the orange and white have been Tennessee assistant coaches Darin Hinshaw and Sal Sunseri.

"I love the staff. I love coach Sunseri. He's crazy, but I love it though," Zanca said.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder will be working out with his Lake Brantley (Fla.) High School teammates starting next week at 5:30 in the morning. He has been keeping in shape with his personal trainer three times a week.

On top of being committed to a Southeastern Conference school and bigger, faster, stronger for his senior season, Zanca will also be allowed to take his hand out of the dirt and work at the position for which the Vols recruited him — linebacker.

"I get to play MIKE this year. I got to play MIKE in the spring and I really loved it, had a really good game," said Zanca, who totaled 58 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks in 2011 mostly lining up in the trenches.

Sunseri told him the Vols plan to line him up at either the MIKE or WILL position. Zanca will be in charge of making the calls and lining up the Lake Brantley defense this fall.

"Obviously, I know the game," Zanca said. "I've been playing it forever. I can read (offenses) pretty good, but I've got a lot to learn still obviously."

The Patriots finished the regular season last year with a perfect 10-0 record. Coach George Clayton's team entered the FHSAA Class 8A state playoffs ranked No. 1 but Neptune Beach Fletcher pulled off the opening-round upset 28-14.

Their star linebacker has high hopes for his prep swan song.

"I think we'll go undefeated again to be honest with you. Our team is a lot better defensively, and we've got a pretty good quarterback," Zanca said.

Look for Zanca to officially visit Tennessee for the Missouri game in November.

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

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