North Gwinnett (Ga.) High School standout Dante Sawyer was in Knoxville this weekend and left impressed with the Vols, who notched not only their first Southeastern Conference win of the year but won their first game against a ranked opponent since 2009.
The FOX Sports and Scout four-star defensive end left Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon raving about the environment.
"I was very impressed with what I saw and the environment was crazy," the 6-foot-3, 257-pound Suwanee, Ga., native told InsideTennessee. "I really liked this trip a lot."
The signature win for the Tennessee program not only encourages Sawyer that the Volunteers are heading in the right direction, but could factor in for his final decision.
"This was a big time statement win for (Tennessee) coach (Butch) Jones and the program," said Sawyer, ranked the No. 27 defensive end in the nation. "This might set a standard of how I feel about coming to Tennessee."
"I told my dad yesterday that I'm probably going to start taking officials instead of unofficials," Sawyer said. "We will see where it goes from here. It will be fun."
One of the things that stuck out the most to him in his trip to Knoxville was the fan base's warm welcoming to him.
"This fan base is crazy," he said. "I was coming out and all the fans were telling me you look good in orange. It was like they knew me. It felt really good."
Despite not being able to talk to the Vols head coach after the game he was still able to talk to two coaches that have constantly targeted the much sought after pass rusher.
"I was talking to (Tennessee running backs coach Robert) Gillespie and (Defensive line coach Steve) Stripling," he said. "I didn't get to talk to coach Jones because he was doing his head coaching duties and celebrating with the team."
That doesn't mean he and Jones will not be in communication soon.
"I'm going to keep calling him and I'm looking forward to seeing what is going to happen. All the coaches are really fun to be around."
While the recruiting process is on Sawyer's mind, he is also focused fully on his final season in high school with North Gwinnett, which is 7-0 on the season and one of the top teams in Georgia. He has been a key force for the Bulldogs with over 50 tackles and 10 tackles for loss.
Sawyer said he has been timed at 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash and his bench press max is up to 330 pounds. After his season is over he will partake in the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio, Texas.