Tennessee or Texas A&M for Bussey?

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The months of January and February aren’t known as the “crazy season” for nothing.

Football is not like other collegiate sports. Simply because a player is verbally committed to a university, doesn’t mean opposing coaching staffs are going to lay off.

Tennessee continues its fight to keep Kendall Bussey Jr. on its commitment list for 2015 and hosted the Newman (La.) High School running back over the weekend.

The official visit itself undoubtedly impressed the Scout three-star prospect and No. 59 runner in the nation. His hosts were Tennessee freshman Jalen Hurd and redshirt sophomore Alvin Kamara. He also spent time with Scout five-star wide receiver prospect Preston Williams and midyear enrollee Kyle Phillips.

“Great visit,” Bussey said. “I got to pretty much chill with Alvin and Jalen. So, we just kind of bonded as a group.

“Of course they’re going to explain the situation. Coach has made it a thing and just being able to bond with those guys and who I’ll be with the next couple of years and make sure we get along. That was pretty cool.

“I got to see who I will be playing with the next couple of years, so that was good.”

The time in Knoxville resulted in a familiarity of what Tennessee has to offer academically and as a student-athlete.

“We did a lot of stuff,” Bussey said. “We mostly toured the campus, kind of saw everything, kind of saw the dorms where I’ll be living and stuff like that. The trip was pretty laid back; it was cool.”

All weekend visitors made their way with football coaches over to Thompson-Boling Arena to see the Tennessee men’s basketball team beat Auburn 71-63 in front of 18,439.

“Oh yeah, that was crazy,” said Bussey, who hopes to wear No. 21 in college as he’s a fan of LaDainian Tomlinson. “It was actually packed. They were kind of chanting a couple of our names and stuff like that. That was cool.

“It makes you feel a little more welcome that even the fans are behind you and they want you. That kind of vibed with me a little bit.”

Bussey had already gotten a taste of Big Orange Country after having unofficial visited Rocky Top in late October to see the Volunteers battle Alabama at Neyland Stadium.

“Just from the Vol Walk, I was like, ‘That’s incredible!’ I’ve never seen that many people just for the walk to the stadium. Just throughout the whole game, the fans were always in the game. They never gave up. The ‘Third Down for What’ was kind of crazy. I loved that. I could imagine being on the sideline and getting hype for that.”

The question begs: Tennessee or Texas A&M. The bayou-based bolt of lighting officially visited both College Station and Knoxville in successive weeks. Bussey had the opportunity to squash rumors encircling which school will get his signed National Letter of Intent on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 Central.

“I won’t answer any questions on that yet, but I can say I had a good visit,” Bussey said.

The flight home will be a time of the playmaker to think. The depth chart at Tennessee entices him.

“They kind of stressed that there’s only two scholarship backs on (campus) right now and that there’s a need for more,” Bussey said. “We’ll play. If we come in and do the right things, we’ll play. That was very important.”

He had no comment on the Aggies: “That’s not important.”

Running backs coach Robert Gillespie heads up the recruitment of Bussey to Rocky Top. The second-year Vols assistant foretold of how Bussey would be used.

“He said we pretty much all have different skill sets. Jalen is a pretty big back. Me and Alvin are kind of similar. We’ll probably be that swing pass, that screen guy, that outside zone and stuff like that. That’s pretty cool; that’s enticing to me,” the 5-foot-8, 205-pounder said.

Time spent with Gillespie, Butch Jones and other Vols coaches answered whatever questions remained after declaring his intentions to play at Tennessee on Dec. 19.

“No, nothing. Coach (Gillespie) had kind of been straight-forward through the recruiting process and told me how things were, where the knee was and where I’d fit in. So, all my questions were answered long ago.”

Bussey had surgery on his left knee immediately after his senior season at Newman.

“It’s fine. That won’t even be an issue come this season,” he said.

Stanford commit and projected slot receiver Jabiari Tyler will join Bussey at the Newman signing ceremony on Wednesday.


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