At this point, it’s been said ad nauseam that the Southeastern Conference showcases college football’s top talent every weekend.
When the league’s best meet up, there are normally dozens of future National Football League draft picks on both sides of the ball. It consistently makes for high-pressure, high-stakes matchups on Saturdays.
That intensity is not limited to the field, however.
Recruiting in the SEC is about as fierce as it gets. Annually the conference’s upper echelon programs battle for the same prospects — committed or not. These off-the-field wars don’t end until a player faxes his National Letter of Intent to the school of his choosing.
Enter Fairburn, Ga., offensive lineman Marquel Harrell.
According to Harrell, second-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones has been heavily involved in his recruitment.
“Yeah I like Tennessee," Harrell told InsideTennessee. "It has a great atmosphere and everything. … I love the atmosphere at Tennessee and the fan base that they have.”
“(Jones) is a great guy. He’s gonna turn the program around in a couple years, so, he has a great personality about him.”
The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder said Tennessee is “still coming hard” and in a recent interview went as far as saying the Vols were “right behind” the Tigers. As of right now the Creekside High School lineman remains committed to Auburn but plans to explore other programs this fall.
“I’m still planning on taking my official visits because we got the OK from (Auburn offensive line) coach (J.B.) Grimes and coach (Gus) Malzahn, and they said I could take my official visits,” Scout’s No. 50 guard said.
"I love the atmosphere at Tennessee and the fan base that they have." — Marquel Harrell
“I think probably Florida State and Cal,” Harrell listed as schools he intends to see. “Those are my two I know for sure.”
Tennessee could earn one of his official visits, but Harrell is unsure if that’ll happen.
“I’m not sure yet, I haven’t talked it over with my parents. But I was thinking about taking a visit to Tennessee before I committed,” Harrell said of a potential visit to Knoxville.
“I haven’t figured it out yet. I’ll have to sit down with my parents about taking a visit there.”
For now, the three-star prospect urges he aims to take the field as a Tiger. Even with plans to check out other programs, Harrell contends that his pledge is “100-percent.”
What would it take to alter his plans of ending up on The Plains?
“I’m not even sure to be truthful because I haven’t been in a situation like that because most of my offers came before I committed to Auburn,” Harrell told IT.“I’m blessed to have offers from (other schools), but I committed to Auburn for a reason.”