Tenacious tackler

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He describes himself as an "animal," yet he may pursue a college degree in cosmetology.

Are you intrigued yet?

If so, you have that in common with college football recruiters through the Southeast. Draequon Murphy of Carver High in Montgomery, Ala., is coming off a sophomore season that suggests he could be en elite safety prospect in the Class of 2014.

All the 6-foot, 200-pounder did last fall was record 40 tackles, 5 interceptions and a forced fumble as a sophomore starter on a team loaded with college prospects. Linebacker Harding Harper is now a freshman at Vanderbilt. Four-star senior quarterback Jeremy Johnson is committed to Auburn. Senior safety Shaun Rupert has 12 offers that include Penn State, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt.

Murphy may be the best of the lot. He could be a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder by the time he graduates, and he already is known for his ferocious hits.

"Animal," he said when asked to describe his style of play. "If I had to compare myself to somebody, I'd probably say Ed Reed (all-pro free safety for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens)."

For an animal, however, Murphy's potential college major seems surprisingly sedate.

"My major ... cosmetology or engineering," he said.

The obvious question: Why cosmetology?

"Everyone always needs a hair-do or a haircut," he said, "so you can cut 'em up whenever you get ready."

Although he has just one offer to date, Arkansas State, Murphy is getting interest from across The South. He was among the top prospects attending Tennessee's recent high school camp. It was his first visit to Knoxville, and he found several items noteworthy.

"The weight room because I like to work out," he said. "And the new turf is very nice."

Murphy spent a significant portion of his Vol visit in the company of assistant coach Derrick Ansley, a fellow Alabamian (Tallassee) who attended Troy University.

"He's a cool person," Murphy said. "Real cool guy."

Since Ansley coaches cornerbacks, Murphy was asked if he might be capable of playing that position.

"I could play it," he said, flashing a soft smile.

Ansley wasn't the only Vol coach who made a point of speaking with Murphy. Head coach Derek Dooley, defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and running backs coach Jay Graham stopped by to say hello. Not many camp visitors get that kind of attention.

Naturally, 100,000-seat Neyland Stadium impressed Murphy. So did the plans for the new state-of-the-art practice facility. He believes the Big Orange is about to return to glory.

"I like the coaches and the new facility ... everything," he said. "I think Tennessee's a program that could win a national championship one day ... again."

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