Bituli: 'Vols believe in me'

InsideTennessee has you covered. Here, you can find all the latest Tennessee football recruiting news. Scroll down to read about a rising in-state prospect who was recently offered by Tennessee.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones and staff have prided themselves on locking down the state's boarders from Day 1 – going to great lengths to ensure top talent within the Volunteer State play their college football in orange and white.

Often times, that means jumping on a prospect first.

And that's just the case with Daniel Bituli.

The Class of 2016 Scout four-star outside linebacker said he was "speechless" when he learned Tennessee was the first to offer.

"It's a really good feeling." Bituli told InsideTennessee. "…The Vols, man, that's just awesome. That's a great, big-time offer."

But more offers are likely on the way.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder says he's been receiving "heavy" interest from Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Virginia, Cincinnati, Michigan, Vanderbilt and "countless" others.

Bituli calls the Vols' scholarship "a dream offer" – but Tennessee could potentially share that title with 13 other programs as Bituli's recruitment progresses.

"Tennessee, man, that's a dream for me," Bituli said. "But I'd call any SEC offer a dream offer for me. I grew up watching the SEC and an SEC fan, so I'd love an offer from any of those schools. That's where they play the best football. So, I'd be interested in any of them."

But the Vols were the first. That won't be lost on Bituli.

Bituli says the early offer from the Vols shows the in-state program has "confidence" in his skills.

"They believe in me, that's what it says to me," the Nashville Christian product said. "It's always good to know a big-time school has interest in you like that."

While Bituli said playing his college ball close to home "would be nice," it won't be a major factor in his still-young recruitment.

"I mean, if the school is close to home, that would help them – yes," Bituli said. "But I also understand that I need to look around. If I have to go far for the best fit for me, I'll do it. I guess it really just all depends."

Bituli has visited the Knoxville-based campus once last September, but is longing to make the short trek again to learn more about the Vols.

"They're a really good program. I've heard a lot of good things about them. But I've only ever been over there and to their campus once. So, I don't know too much about them, personally," Bituli told IT. "But I want to get over there again and learn more about the school. That's just an awesome place over there."

Among other things, Bituli is anxious to take an in-depth tour of Tennessee's newly finished athletic facilities.

"It seems like they have all the stops over in that facility. I know they have a great facility and workout area," Bituli told IT. "That's really cool. It's like the best around I hear. It's amazing. Like, I love their fans, too. People love Tennessee around here. It's just a really good place."

As of now, Bituli is unaware of his future visitation plans.

But wherever he visits, Bituli says he will be taking a close look at what a given program can offer academically.

"Academics are most important to me," Bituli told IT. "I want to go to a school that has plans for my life after football. You can't play forever. I really care about academics."

Discuss Bituli's recruitment with InsideTennessee analysts and subscribers by clicking here.

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