Helm ready for the next step

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An aspect of the Tennessee offense missing in 2013 has been a tight end that can threaten the seam of a defense, outrun linebackers and be a matchup nightmare for opponents.

Help arrives soon in the person of Daniel Helm of Glenwood (Ill.) High School.

The nation's No. 4-ranked tight end verbally committed to the Volunteers back on April 23, however, his first trip south from Chatham, Ill., to see Tennessee in action came on Saturday night at Neyland Stadium with Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt in town.

"It was a really great atmosphere," Helm told InsideTennessee. "I enjoyed it."

The Big Orange held a fourth-quarter lead before a controversial play on a fourth down at midfield went in the Commodores' favor.

Officials pulled the chains tight and the nose of the football was short of the first-down marker, which meant the Vols would take over, knee the football and be just a win away from bowl eligibility. However, instant replay concluded that the spot was short and the Commodores got the first down. The visitors then finished marching down the field and scored a touchdown with 16 seconds remaining to win 14-10.

"That was awful watching," Helm said. "What made it worse was the overturned call. If they had gotten it initially it wouldn't have been quite so bad. Had a chance at the end. Oh well."

Classes for Tennessee's spring semester commence on Jan. 8. The Scout four-star prospect with a 5.4 grade point average fully plans to be in attendance on The Hill.

"I'm really looking forward to it. Ready to step into the next part of my life," Helm said.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder has a skill set that could have him on the field his first year on campus. The combination of injuries and inexperience hampered assistant coach Mark Elder's group much of the fall.

"(Helm watched the Tennessee tight ends) a little bit. I know they're hurting at that position right now injury-wise so it's hard to get stuff going with them. (Tennessee junior Brendan) Downs was really effective on that pull with the counter and stuff. It looked pretty cool."

In the 2013 IHSAA Class 5A state playoffs, Glenwood eliminated Notre Dame 31-28 before losing to a No. 1-seeded Sacred Heart-Griffin team 55-7. That brought a finality to Helm's prep career.

Helm checks in to participate in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl week in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 30. That event and work on his body are the goals between now and the kickstart to his orange-clad career.

"Just to lift as much as I can and get ready for everything as best I can," Helm said.

"(The Offense-Defense Bowl) will be fun. That will be very enjoyable."

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 FOX Sports NEXT team July 2011.
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