Three of its best are verbally committed to the Tennessee Volunteers — Jalen Hurd, Todd Kelly Jr. and Vic Wharton. The Vols are after a variety of players in search of getting in-state pledge No. 4. Among them is Brentwood Academy's Derek Barnett.
The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder visited Tennessee for its first spring practice under head coach Butch Jones earlier this month.
"They weren't fully padded up, but they still got some good work in and they definitely made the best of it," said Barnett, who has also seen a Vanderbilt practice.
While on Rocky Top, the FOX Sports NEXT three-star spoke with Jones, tight ends coach Mark Elder and defensive line coach Steve Stripling.
"It all went real good," Barnett said.
His most extensive meeting was with the first-year head man Jones.
"That was more about life, about school and what I want to study," Barnett told InsideTennessee. "They were just showing me a bunch of love and telling me how they want me. Then, with coach Elder, that was a lot about football, about tight end. They showed me how they would use me at tight end and showed me some film. And, I talked to coach Stripling and he knows how coach Jones and coach Elder want me at tight end but they want me at D-line too."
The Vols appear to be recruiting him as a tight end, but he could wind up on either side of the football.
"I don't have a preference, but I'm thinking tight end is possibly where I'd play quicker at," Barnett said.
He has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. IT asked if he has some schools at the top of his list or if there is a league he'd prefer to play in.
"SEC probably; I'm leaning towards that right now," he said. "But, I like Florida State and Ohio State. Vandy and UT are showing me a lot of love right now, so I'll take that into consideration. I'm looking at them the hardest just because they're showing me a lot of love and telling me how they'll use me."
|Barnett had a meeting with Vol head coach Butch Jones while on his last visit to Knoxville.|
"I understand where they're coming from," Barnett said. "I think a lot of in-state guys should stay home, you know? My mom wants to see me play. I've just been thinking about it a lot lately. Whatever is best for me and my family."
Eagle teammates Shawn Brashers, Bryce Matthews, Jackson Pittman and Tyson Terrell joined Barnett in checking out the Vols' workout on Haslam Field.
"Some of them will be big-time recruits," Barnett said.
Barnett said that offer-holding wide receiver C.J. Sanders from the Class of 2015 "will be up there sometime soon."
Older teammates at Brentwood Academy that signed with high-level programs in the Class of 2013 include Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) and Max Staver (Florida). Barnett said having friends who have already gone through what he is experiencing now is fruitful.
"That's really helpful. Me and Jalen talk about the recruiting process a lot. After he signed, he talked to me that day and said, 'Don't commit early.' He said, 'Enjoy the process. Don't feel pressured by anybody to make a decision. Just take your visits and after all of that, you have to feel comfortable.' That's what he told me, and I really appreciate that."
Barnett plans to go through his entire senior year at Brentwood Academy but "that could change." He plans on majoring in something dealing with Human Anatomy.
The Nashville resident hopes to make a decision "probably after my senior season is done."
Barnett visited South Carolina this weekend and plans to return to Knoxville for the Orange & White spring game in Neyland Stadium on April 20.