Skipper decides on Tennessee

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In building depth along the offensive front for the future of Tennessee football, coach Derek Dooley and his staff stayed in-state for tackle Austin Sanders and guard Brett Kendrick.

To add the third prospect to the mix and another bookend tackle, Tennessee went quite a bit further in its search — about 1,400 miles west — as Dan Skipper of Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, Colo., gave his pledge to don the Power T late Tuesday night.

Skipper gives the Volunteers 14 verbal commitments in the Class of 2013, including seven in the month of June.

First-year Tennessee offensive line coach Sam Pittman is Skipper's lead recruiter.

FOX Sports Next ranks the 6-foot-10, 280-pound Skipper as the No. 57 offensive tackle in the land and a three-star prospect.

Comparisons galore incorporate Skipper and Buena Vista. Colo., native Nate Solder, who added nearly 40 pounds to his frame from when he first arrived at Colorado as a tight end before becoming a first-round selection (17th overall) of the New England Patriots in 2011.

Tennessee offensive line coach Sam Pittman is the front-man on Skipper's recruitment.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Although the Centennial State product is new to the radar of Vol recruiting followers, make no mistake about it, Skipper is a legitimate Div. I prospect, sporting a double-digit number of offers, including Southeastern Conference counterparts Missouri and Vanderbilt.

Skipper's height lends to tremendous length, which is exactly what college and pro coaches want from their offensive tackles so they can get their hands on explosive pass rushers. What separates talents like Skipper from others with the same stature is the athleticism and lower extremity quick twitch that allows him to drop step off the snap, set up in an aggressive base, accentuate the point of attack and win the battle.

"Someone my size always has to work on staying low, have good footwork and good hand placement," Skipper told DevilsDigest.com. "Those are skills that you work on everyday anyway."

At 280 pounds, the three-star prospect doesn't yet have the strength and weight to play early. However, he still has an entire senior year of high school to start packing on good weight. Also, Tennessee is on schedule to have a potentially elite tackle in Antonio Richardson on the field for his junior season in 2013, which would allow an incoming left tackle time to develop.

A couple solid years in strength and conditioning coach Ron McKeefery's program (along with a tool like the new Football Training Center) should allow Skipper's run blocking potential on the college level to catch up with his pass pro. Earlier this spring, he reported that he was squatting 420 and power cleaning 280.

Ralston Valley enjoyed a successful 2011 season, finishing with a record of 10-2. As the No. 4 seed a 32-team field, it reached the CHSAA Class 5A state quarterfinals before falling to Grandview 17-14.

Skipper kicks off his senior season with the Mustangs at Longmont, Colo., on Aug. 30.

The well-spoken future Vol carries a 3.91 GPA, plans to major in engineering or science and has voiced how important academics are to him.

"I'm not going to go in and major in eligibility. That is not my goal," Skipper told Buffalo Sports News.

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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