Offensive linemen are at a premium during every recruiting cycle. Year after year successful, championship-caliber programs battle for elite linemen to pave the way for ball-carriers and buy time for their quarterbacks.
As head coach Butch Jones and his staff continue their rebuilding of Tennessee, they have become no strangers to recruiting battles across the country for such players.
One prospect they see as a big-time potential contributor on the line is Reistertown (Md.) Franklin offensive tackle Patrick Allen.
The 6-foot-6, 282-pound Allen has attracted a number of suitors besides the Vols, however. The Scout four-star prospect's offer list is a collection of college football's annual contenders. In addition to Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida State, LSU, Florida and Arkansas have offered, among others.
However, a couple visits earlier this month may have changed things for the rising senior who, in a previous interview with Scout, described Oklahoma as the school that "just always stuck out to (him)."
When asked which visits caught his attention lately, he wasted no time mentioning a pair of Southeastern Conference Eastern Division foes.
"I visited Tennessee and Georgia," Allen said.
Allen, Scout's No. 30 offensive tackle and No. 290 overall prospect for the 2015 cycle, praised his time in Athens and Knoxville.
"Both were very hard to pick (as his favorite)."
As the recruiting season progresses toward its culmination in February, Allen will become a major priority for Tennessee in particular. Some former targets — three star Austin Clark and four-star Chuma Edoga — have already pledged their intentions to attend other schools. Drew Richmond, an in-state offensive tackle and Scout four-star prospect, has long been one of Tennessee's top targets but is giving very legitimate consideration to Alabama, Ohio State and Ole Miss.
With urgency to add quality depth to the offensive line, Allen has noticed a lot of attention from Tennessee's coaches.
"They are coming hard," the Reistertown standout said.
"I talk to them maybe once a week (and the coaches tell me) that the work has only begun and college is a different experience."
The Maryland product mentioned before that Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney plays a big role in his recruitment. According to Allen, he and the other Vol coaches have been impressed with his ability.
"They like that I give effort and finish plays. They like how I get after people," Allen said.
Other than his growing relationships within the coaching staff, Allen, like many other recruits, made it a point to mention Tennessee's facilities as a main attraction during his time in Knoxville earlier this month.
Allen put it simply, stating that "(Tennessee's) academic building is no joke."
In short, his time in Knoxville from June 15-16 altered things for the highly touted player. Prior to his visit to Tennessee, Allen's top group consisted of Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida State. However, that group has undergone some changes as of late.
"(Tennessee) is in my top 5," said Allen, who described his top group after the addition of the Vols in place of Florida State.
"Georgia is like family. Oklahoma reminds me of home in Maryland. Michigan is a really good team. Ohio State, I'm just really comfortable there."
Taking it a step further, the No. 3-rated tackle in the Old Line State indicated whether or not he could see himself in orange for a few years.
"I could because it's a school [(with) great opportunities."
Allen plans on announcing his decision shortly after his senior season.
Discuss Allen's recruitment with InsideTennessee analysts and subscribers by clicking here.