Coaches matter to LaVert Hill.
The 5-foot-10, 176-pound cornerback from Detroit wants to know that the staff that signs him to scholarship papers will be there for him during his time in college. With Butch Jones and his staff improving their record for the second straight year and the Volunteers finishing second in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division, it looks like solidarity is one thing Tennessee has going for it that some of its rivals do not.
Hill got a chance to see what life in Big Orange Country is all about after taking an official visit this weekend. The Scout four-star prospect and top-rated cornerback in the Great Lakes State was impressed by the hospitality.
“Just how much the coaches care and just the atmosphere and how the people live,” Hill told InsideTennessee. “They treat you pretty good down here.
“The food is good…I ate at the Cookout like four times and the food they gave us at the facility.”
One of the reasons why the former Penn State commit decided to journey down to Tennessee was previous time spent in the South.
“I had been here like two summers ago, and I always wanted to get back down here. I talked to my mom. She said I could take my official down here. So, it was pretty good.”
Butch Jones may lose his best cornerback after the bowl game if junior Cameron Sutton declares for the NFL Draft. Signing a cornerback with Hill’s talents would go a long way in filling that hole as the Vols hope to earn an SEC championship in 2016.
“I talked to (Jones) before I left. He just told me that he wanted me here and stuff like that. He’s supposedly coming up in January I believe,” said Hill, whose player host was fellow Detroit native and Vols freshman running back John Kelly.
The official went well enough to where Jones & Co. may see Hill back on Rocky Top in an unofficial capacity later this winter and who his mother along for the ride.
“Now that I’ve seen it, it’s pretty high. I’m very interested in Tennessee,” the Scout 300 member said. “I just want to get back down here before I make my decision again.”
After the trip home to Detroit from Knoxville, the four-star prospect will brief his mother on how things went and discuss his future.
“I’m just keeping my options open,” Hill said. “I’ll have a sitdown with my mom and just go from there.”
The Scout No. 1-ranked corner in the Midwest Region and No. 113 player in the 2016 class doesn’t yet know the schools from which he’ll choose but he said an announcement should come prior to National Signing Day.
“I was going to do it at the Army game but I’m thinking about not doing it and just doing it later on, but I don’t know yet.”
The Tennessee official visit was Hill’s first. Officials are in the works to Ohio State and Southern California. Both Michigan and Michigan State are after Hill as well.
“I’m just looking for coaches and making sure they ain’t going nowhere no time soon,” Hill said. “I’m just looking to have a good time, the people, just the whole environment.”
“I spent time with (Martinez) a lot,” Hill said. “We just watched some film. He was telling me about the stuff, and I just got done watching them practice. Yeah, it was pretty good.”
Hill is teammates with King (Mich.) High School wide receiver Donnie Corley, who has family in the Nashville area and has visited Knoxville three times this year.
“Donnie just told me — I talk to him probably every day — like I’ve got to hurry up and get down there, that you’re going to love it and stuff like that. I listened to him and just came down.
“Me and him (Corley) talked about playing with each other for a long time. So, I’d be pretty excited if we were able to play with each other again.”
In his prep finale, Hill caught four passes for 77 yards with two touchdowns (12, 2). He recorded a tackle on defense. Fellow Vols target Corley had six receptions for 108 yards and two scores, including the game-winner from 40 yards out as time expired in their 40-38 victory.