Vols coach making Richmond a priority

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Not a ton of prospects see head coaches involved in their recruitment. Drew Richmond is an exception.

Given the Volunteers' need at offensive tackle and with Richmond being an in-state product, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is helping lead the charge to sign the Memphis University School standout.

"Basically, (Jones) asks me how my day is going and stuff like that," Richmond said of their conversations.

Other head coaches involved in Richmond's recruitment include Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze, Memphis' Justin Fuente and Ohio State's Urban Meyer.

"I talk to them a couple times a week," Richmond said. "I'm one of their priorities I guess."

All four of those schools made Richmond's list of top schools that he released in mid-March that also included Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, North Carolina and UCLA.

After taking some summer visits, the 6-foot-5, 323-pounder says he will narrow down his list of top schools yet again.

Vols fans can feel optimistic about the upcoming list: "I like Tennessee a lot; they'll make the next cut."

Tennessee welcomed a number of targets to its annual Orange & White game on Saturday, the No. 11-ranked offensive tackle included. Vol Nation came out in force with one of the most highly attended spring games in the nation.

"I was there last year, so it wasn't a shock to me and I've been to games when it was 100,000," said Richmond, who arrived in Knoxville on Friday and stayed for the spring finale. "I guess they surpassed what they did last year I think."

The Scout four-star prospect is correct. Tennessee drew 61,076 at the 2013 game he attended but set the bar for the second-largest spring crowd in university history on Saturday with an attendance of 68,548.

The second-highest rated junior prospect in the Volunteer State said he spoke with basically the entire coaching staff afterward.

With Ja'Wuan James and Antonio Richardson gone from the Big Orange roster and awaiting their selections in the NFL Draft, the Volunteers must find two new offensive tackles. Redshirt senior Jacob Gilliam, junior newcomer Dontavius Blair, redshirt freshman Brett Kendrick and freshman Coleman Thomas all played tackle in the spring scrimmage finale.

"Yeah, I watched them a little bit," said Richmond, who admits that playing time is a priority and Tennessee offers exactly that.

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney needs a talent like the No. 111-rated player in the country.

"I talk to coach Mahoney a lot," Richmond said. "He's a very genuine guy."

The tackle says he doesn't have any further unofficial visits set up presently.

Richmond competed in the NIKE Football Training Camp weeks ago and earned a spot with 161 of the best in the nation at The Opening in early July.

"I'm very excited," he said.

The MUS Owls reached the TSSAA Division II Class AA state championship each of the last two seasons. Richmond is unclear on the 2014 squad's chances but a return trip to Cookeville is always the goal.

"I can't really say. People doubt us and doubt us. Even after being to the state championship people doubted us. Hopefully this can be our year to win it."

MUS has another gauntlet of a schedule ahead with stout non-region opponents like South Panola (Miss.) High School and four-star running back Eric Glover-Williams' McKinley (Ohio) High School.

See Richmond in action at the Birmingham NFTC by clicking play on the Scout highlights below:

Discuss the offensive tackle's recruitment with InsideTennessee analysts and subscribers by clicking here.

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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