A position of need could be addressed if Tennessee signed Marcus Tatum.
The Mainland (Fla.) High School offensive tackle rates No. 20 in the 2016 class positionally and No. 1 in the Sunshine State. The staff in Knoxville put its best foot forward over the weekend, hosting Tatum on his first official visit.
“It was fun,” Tatum said. “It was a great, family atmosphere. I just really enjoyed myself. I liked the game and all that. The best part was just the coaches.
“It was cool being with the players, just an all-around good experience.
“The biggest takeaway would just be the family atmosphere, just the home feeling around here.”
Where the Volunteers helped themselves the most was with Tatum’s family.
“My Mom really likes them now,” Tatum said. “I haven’t really thought about all that stuff — where they’re at and all of that. I’m just worried about my high school.”
Tennessee jumped out to a 17-point lead and held on for a 27-24 win over South Carolina at Neyland Stadium. Tatum was in the front row behind the north end zone to catch the action.
“It was really good to watch them,” said Tatum, who also saw the Vols play in Gainesville in September. “This time, I was really just watching the offensive line up close, just watching their techniques and how they’ve been coached and everything. It was really nice to see that.”
Tatum was part of an announced attendance of 101,253.
“Oh, it’s crazy; I really liked it,” he said.
Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney is one of the lead recruiters with Tatum. Redshirt sophomore tackle Brett Kendrick and sophomore guard Jashon Robertson were the player hosts and their message to the four-star was that Tennessee is “just an all-around great place to be and that coach Mo cares about you like you’re one of his own children.”
Mahoney sat down with the 6-6½, 255-pounder and told him “that they love me here and they need tackles and that there’s no guarantee that I’ll play but that I’ll have an opportunity, which is all that I want,” Tatum said. “I don’t want guaranteed playing time; I just want an opportunity to play.”
With the official in the books, Tatum reflected back on his time on Rocky Top and said it was those around the program that left an impression, echoing the sentiments of dozens of recruits to visit during the Butch Jones era.
“The people. The people. I’m really comfortable here.”
The Daytona Beach native said he has “no idea, honestly” on when he’ll declare.
Mainland takes on Sebastian River in the opening round of the 2015 FHSAA Class 6A state playoffs. That contest and any that follow are of far more importance to the blocker right now than his college destination. Tatum said he hasn’t even thought about when he’ll take other official visits.
Tatum has no plans to enroll in the university he chooses in January. He also has not committed to an All-American game.