Marques Ford didn’t need to know anything more about Tennessee to realize that he wants to be a Volunteer. Nevertheless, college football prospects are allowed five official visits and the defensive end didn’t pass on the opportunity to partake in an all-expenses-paid trip to his future home for some wining and dining.
“The nights are fun, the food is great,” Ford said. “It’s a lot of different stuff that makes it all awesome.”
While at the home of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, the Gibsonton, Florida, native put his signature on a wall that has been signed countless times by others during their visit.
“I thought about that. I saw the wall. I came and signed it and felt like I was joining the family,” the Class of 2015 recruit said.
What Ford was told during his time with Tennessee coaches wasn’t altogether different from messages he’s gotten from the Big Orange for several months.
“They told me they wanted me to come and all that,” Ford said. “They told me they’re excited to see me, excited for the summer.”
Classmate and fellow Under Armour All-American defensive lineman Shy Tuttle hosted Ford. The two had a friendship before the trip and the Jan. 16-18 weekend only aided that.
“He’s cool. They’re all really cool,” Ford said.
Spending time with graduating members of Team 118 and upperclassmen returning for Team 119 was a subject of intrigue going into the weekend but the Scout four-star prospect was pleasantly surprised with how he was treated by the current Volunteers.
“They were all pretty cool,” Ford said. “I didn’t think they would care that much about recruits but they joined in as much as they could with us.”
An Orange Carpet Day visit back in the summer filled Ford’s head with tons of knowledge about what Tennessee has to offer a student-athlete. That took pressure off the D-end with this visit.
“That first visit, basically I toured the entire school and that was me seeing where I wanted to go. So, I got all the information then.”
At his last weigh-in, Ford said he tipped the scales at 230 but plans to get 240 before enrolling on Rocky Top early this summer. He says his size will determine whether or not he plays as a true freshman or redshirts.
The number preference to wear at Tennessee is 56 but that’s currently occupied by four-year defender and team captain Curt Maggitt.
“I might just take any number I can get and make it mine,” Ford said.
The future Vol says other schools have backed off and college coaches that have gone by East Bay (Fla.) High School since the end of the NCAAA Dead Period have come to inquire about teammates.
“None (in pursuit), really, no,” the No. 30-rated defensive end in the nation said. “They see how solid I am (to Tennessee).”
Tennessee’s first Summer 2015 mini semester begins May 6. The first full semester begins June 1.