Helm: 'I'm ready to go'

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Daniel Helm was born in Los Angeles, resided in California until the age of 8, moved to Wyoming and is currently in Chatham, Ill. That is…until January.

At that point, Helm takes part in the greatest athletic and academic challenge of his young life as he enrolls at Tennessee.

After visiting for the Vanderbilt game at Neyland Stadium in late November, Helm returned to Knoxville for an official visit last weekend with his parents. It was the second time all three drove to Rocky Top together after tripping as a trio back in the summer.

"We all just wanted to know a bit more details-wise about what will happen when I get there," said Helm, who reiterated that he's 100-percent committed to Tennessee.

"It was definitely more enjoyable. We were pampered a little more than usual. It was a lot more hanging out. The coaches didn't really have any obligations football-wise — maybe a recruiting trip here and there. For the most part, it was hanging out and we talked a little bit of football.

"The food was great. The boat was cool, too. I think what probably stuck out the most was they did kind of a simulation of what pre-game would be like. I thought that was pretty cool even though there's nobody on the stands."

Tennessee tight ends coach Mark Elder worked tirelessly to capture and maintain the pledges of Helm and fellow Scout four-star Ethan Wolf.

"I like him a lot," Helm said of Elder. "He's a really cool guy, very chill. I know he's going to push me but it's a healthy balance between pushing and not getting on someone too much."

Since Mychal Rivera finished up his eligibility at Tennessee and moved on to the Oakland Raiders, the Volunteers have not had a tight end threaten defenses. Helm figures to change that. He got a mini-education on how that will happen during his visits this year.

"I talked a little bit with coach Elder about formations," the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder said. "They didn't really talk to me about how I'd be used in the offense because that was how they sold me in April with the whole recruiting pitch. It was more just kind of teaching me some of the offense and stuff."

Helm, rated by Scout as the No. 178 player in the nation, is the top tight end to leave the Land of Lincoln in many years. He accumulated 35 receptions for 565 yards and 13 touchdowns for Glenwood High School. He doubled as a strong safety his senior season, totaling 68 tackles (28 solo) with four pass breakups and an interception.

The zone just beyond the line of scrimmage and up the seam figure to be open range for tight ends like Helm once defenses have to account for Tennessee deep threats like freshman Marquez North and incoming outside receivers such as four-star prospects Josh Malone and LaVon Pearson.

"It's very healthy to have that balance," Helm said. "Then, they can't overguard a certain area as you see in high school a lot. But, in college, once you get a lot of talented guys in there… I mean we have great guys coming into the backfield too with Jalen (Hurd). So, it's really hard to pinpoint just one spot. We're looking to make it difficult on teams and hopefully we succeed on that."

With the college destination all set, another aspect of the acclimation process is deciding on what number the Illinois native will don.

"I like 17; that's the first number I asked for," said Helm, who requested the same digit as incoming linebacker Dillon Bates.

Helm flies out to take parti in preparations for the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl on Dec. 30. Joining him at the event are fellow Vols commits Derek Barnett, Cortez McDowell, Emmanuel Moseley, Charles Mosley, Cory Thomas and Vic Wharton.

Kickoff at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla., is on Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. EST.

"It can only help. I love playing against competition like in Chicago against some of the brilliant players. It will get my football legs underneath me for sure," he said.

Helm, who carries a 5.3 grade point average at Glenwood, is undecided on a major. He says his roommates come January at Tennessee will be Malone, Moseley and Jakob Johnson.

"I'm very excited," Helm said. "I've been ready to go for awhile. This weekend really showed me how close it all is. I'm ready to go."

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 Scout team July 2011.
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