For recruits all across the country, their high-school football careers reached a finality in the last several weeks. The next stop takes them out of their element in more ways than one.
Ethan Wolf's journey south spans roughly 357 miles with a huge chunk of it coming on the southerly drive down Interstate-75. Come January, Wolf will venture to Tennessee with boxes in tow and a smile on his face as he prepares to embark on the next phase of his life.
The No. 5 tight end in the nation declared during a six-week stretch that saw seven prospects contribute heavily to the backbone of the program by verbally committing as the Volunteers partaked in their first spring practices under first-year head coach Butch Jones and his staff.
The Scout four-star prospect cemented his decision to play for the Volunteers with an official visit last weekend.
"It was awesome," Wolf told InsideTennessee. "I love being around the coaches and constantly being around them and just getting to know them all better. Also, being with some of the commits in Cortez (McDowell), Joe (Henderson), Aaron (Medley) and Brandon (Powell) was there as well. So, we we're still trying to get him to come to play for Tennessee."
Wolf and family made the trek down from Minster, Ohio, to Rocky Top for the first and last games of the 2013 season at Neyland Stadium, seeing the Orange & White dismantle Austin Peay in late August before losing in a heartbreaker to Vanderbilt in November.
"The atmosphere was ridiculous (for the Vanderbilt game), especially getting into the crunch time of the game," Wolf said. "People were screaming and yelling. Unfortunately, things just didn't fall in place. As far as the atmosphere goes, it was incredible."
Seeing Tennessee go 5-7 doesn't deter Wolf, rather it ramps up his anticipation to join a highly rated recruiting class to return the Big Orange to glory.
"I'm definitely getting a taste of it," he said, "especially being at these games. It makes me want to get here and start the grind and win those close games."
"I watched Brendan a little bit," Wolf said. "He's a good player. He's a big, physical kid. I think we're going to have some depth with getting two more guys in there."
Joining Wolf on Rocky Top next month and contributing to that depth will be Scout's third-ranked tight end, Daniel Helm.
"We don't talk all that much anymore cause we're busy," Wolf said of his relationship with Helm. "But, when we see each other…we're friends. I'm looking forward to playing with Daniel. I think we compliment each other's skill sets very well."
Saddled with the job of meshing the veterans and the freshmen will be Vols tight ends coach Mark Elder, who Wolf says stays in steady contact.
"It's great," Wolf said of his relationship with Elder. "We talk a lot. I feel like we have a very strong relationship. He's going to teach me the ropes and things are going to gel pretty well."
Look for the Minster High standout to arrive in Knoxville for the spring semester on Jan. 6. Until then, Wolf knows he has work to do.
"Get as strong and as fast as I possibly can until then," he said. "With football we only lifted twice a week. So, I dropped about 7-8 pounds. I was at about 232. I go to speed training in Lima. They have a scale there. I'm about 240-242 right now.
"I have a six-day program that I'm doing with speed and weights. It's my goal to just work as hard as I possibly can and make some gains."