Croom is working diligently to convince former Norcross (Ga.) High School teammate Myles Autry to join him on The Hill. Although he has a brother, Anthony, playing football for Georgia Tech, Myles Autry's friendship with Croom could be the tipping point in his recruitment.
"That'll be a big factor," said Autry, who visited Tennessee's campus for Family Day last weekend.
Asked about his friendship with Croom, who redshirted as a Vol freshman last fall, Autry broke into a big grin.
"That's my boy," he said. "He's been recruiting me, kind of telling me how great Tennessee is. He and Ryan (mid-term freshman Ryan Jenkins of Marietta, Ga.) say it's a great place. At the end, that could be a big factor."
Autry is looking at several other factors in choosing a college, of course.
"If they've got my major, finance, and the possibility of me starting or getting playing time as a true freshman," he said. "And, at the end of the day, do I feel safe at this place? That's the big three that I really look for in schools."
|Autry's relationship with current Vol wide receiver Jason Croom (pictured) helps Tennessee's chances at signing the running back.|
"I'm an athlete — running back, slot receiver, punt returner, kick returner, DB," he said. "I was all around."
Autry, who says he clocked a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash at the Nike Camp last summer, describes himself as "elusive, quick after-burst, great hands, can create space and speedy."
Oregon came through with a scholarship offer last week, he said, adding that he likes Oregon "a lot." He also mentioned Ohio State, Tennessee, Florida and Florida State before qualifying: "I like a lot of people. I really don't have no top schools right now. I feel like it's too early for it, so I'm taking it day by day."
Still, he admitted that Saturday's Knoxville visit turned his head.
"In this process," he said, "Tennessee is really good, and they could be at the top."
Autry attended a Vol football game with Croom in the fall of 2011 and enjoyed himself thoroughly.
"Tennessee's a great place," he said. "Last year when my boy Jason was being recruited here, we came to watch Tennessee play South Carolina and had a great time. This is my first time to spend the night here in Knoxville, and I've been liking it."
One thing that caught his eye on the most recent visit was the furious pace of Tennessee's Saturday workout.
"Practice was kind of intense," Autry said. "Everybody was moving. The players were hyped. The coaches were hyped."
After spending just a few seconds with Vol head man Butch Jones, Autry came away impressed.
"I met him for the first time and shook his hand," the prospect said. "He seemed like a pretty cool coach. I want to see this year if he's a good coach and can he change Tennessee's legacy."