Vols offer blossoming in-state talent

InsideTennessee brings you the best and latest recruiting coverage. Scroll down to read about an up-and-coming in-state talent who landed a Vols offer.

Emmit Gooden paused, searching for the word that best explains his eventful Tuesday.

"Unbelievable," he said. "That's it. That's the only way I can describe it."

"It" being an offer from Tennessee, his hometown school.

The Class of 2016 defensive end from Haywood (Tenn.) High School said he feels "blessed" to pick up his first major scholarship offer.

"It's just amazing. It means so much," Gooden told InsideTennessee. "It was a crazy day. Can't believe it still."

From the time Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling broke the news to him in the morning to when he went to sleep, Gooden's Twitter followers spiked from roughly 200 to more than 1,000.

"Man, the fans just showing me love," Gooden said. "They crazy, and that's a good thing. I love that about Tennessee."

But Gooden wasn't surprised by the floods of fan support.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder was on hand to watch the Vols fall to Auburn last fall and remembers being awed by the "loud" game-day atmosphere.

"The fans they crazy. That was so loud. They greeted that team and me with love," Gooden said. "It was fun even though they lost. You can feel the love and the family vibe and all that."

And that "family vibe" is a major plus for the Vols, Gooden says.

"I'm looking for two things: a family feel first and foremost and the chance to play early," he told IT.

Another plus for the Vols is their top 2014 recruiting class. Gooden says the class ranking serves as evidence that Tennessee is headed in the right direction.

"You best believe they gonna be back," Gooden said. "But, really, it just means a lot to me, you know, to be offered by a school that has one of the top classes, it just is amazing to know they think I'm that type of player and am worthy. I just got to work hard and when my signing day comes, maybe I'll be a Vol. I know I love Tennessee."

While Gooden says he did not grow up a Tennessee fan, he is plenty familiar with the Vols' traditions.

"I know that's a great, big time place," Gooden told IT. "That tradition, you know, I grew up watching them. So I know a little something."

Gooden claims to have posted more than 100 tackles during his sophomore season. He said he's receiving interest from Alabama, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

Gooden said he doesn't plan to end his recruitment early and is excited to fully experience the process. He does, however, know which conference he wants to play in one day.

"I don't know where I'm going yet," Gooden said. "But I want to play in the SEC, that's for sure."

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