Will Lenoir follow father's footsteps?

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The 2014 signing class for Tennessee has a chance to be a special one for coach Butch Jones for reasons beyond plucking homegrown talent and plenty of it.

Several players are being pursued whose fathers all competed at some point for the Orange & White, including outside linebacker Dillon Bates, athlete Elliot Berry, defensive back Evan Berry, wide receiver Neiko Creamer and safety Todd Kelly Jr.

What a portion of Big Orange Country doesn't realize is that there's a sixth legacy prospect — Bailey Lenoir.

Lenoir is a tight end at East Hamilton (Tenn.) High School. His father is Patrick Lenoir, who played offensive tackle for the Volunteers 1987-91. Like the other five, the fathers aren't forcing any of them to ink with Tennessee.

"He's not putting any pressure on me like that's where he really wants me to go, but to just make the best decision for me," Lenoir said of his dad.

While he is yet to receive a scholarship offer from anyone, he is getting mail from Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Furman, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. If Jones & Co. pull the trigger on offering the in-state prospect, it won't be an opportunity taken lightly.

"It would mean a lot simply because both my parents played there just to follow them if I decided to go there. It would be extra special if I got an offer from there," said Lenoir, whose mother played volleyball on The Hill.

Last fall, he unofficially visited Neyland Stadium to see the Big Orange take on Florida, Missouri and Troy. He also made sure to check out the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center and Vol Walk.

"The Florida game, that was pretty awesome to have all the fans there," said Lenoir, whose father is a season ticket holder.

The Ootewah, Tenn., native tripped to Cincinnati last weekend for a junior day. While there he measured in at 6-feet-4, 234 pounds. He's also attended junior days on Rocky Top on both Feb. 2 and Feb. 16.

Former Vol offensive tackle Patrick Lenoir carried the American flag through the T with the team prior to the Cincinnati game on Sept. 10, 2011.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Tight ends coach Mark Elder and offensive line coach Don Mahoney are the lead recruiters on Bailey for the Volunteers. Lenoir said his relationship with Elder is "really good" and he receives links to videos and stories online from the aide.

The entire Lenoir family was on Shields-Watkins Field back on Sept. 10, 2011. Patrick carried the American flag onto the field with the Vols in honor of his fallen brother, John Robinson Lenoir, who was in the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York when tragedy struck.

"It was kind of cool watching (his dad) go through (the T), but obviously it was very sad," Bailey said.

In 2012, East Hamilton went undefeated in District 6-AA, outscored opponents 503-123 and finished 11-2 under coach Ted Gatewood after eliminating Marshall County and Page before losing to Giles County in the TSSAA Class 4A state quarterfinals. The Hurricanes held a late lead before their hosts scored a go-ahead touchdown with 3:24 to play and were held out of the end zone from fourth-and-goal with 30 seconds to play.

"I don't know if we're going to be quite as good as last year because we're losing a lot of people," said Lenoir of 2013's expectations. "We've still got a lot of good players coming back."

East Hamilton saw its starting two defensive ends graduate, so Lenoir is likely to be asked to put his hand in the dirt on the opposite side of the football. When on offense, he expects to see the ball more at tight end, lining up occasionally as a receiver in the slot.

"I think I'm going to get the ball a lot more. Last year I only had about 12 or 13 receptions," he said.

Future plans are to visit Duke during spring break at the end of March and return to Knoxville on April 6. Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe coached Patrick Lenoir while at Tennessee.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing 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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