Marquez Callaway wants to see all facets of college football programs he’s considering before he hands over a signed National Letter of Intent.
The Warner Robins (Ga.) High School two-way threat and Scout 300 member needed to find out more about life in orange and white from a player’s perspective. That was the main purpose of taking an official visit to Knoxville over the weekend.
“I had a good time,” Callaway told InsideTennessee. “I hung out with the players a lot and that’s something that I haven’t done being up there.
“(Tennessee cornerback) Cam Sutton was my host, so I was with him most of the time.”
Callaway resides roughly 80 minutes south of Sutton’s old stomping grounds of Jonesboro. The two meshed and Sutton got Callaway involved with Team 120.
“Every time I’ve been I’ve only been for the game and I went home,” Callaway said. “I didn’t really get a chance to talk to the players and see how they liked it, not just because they play for them but to find out how they actually feel about it. This weekend, since I was able to hang out with the players off the field, I think it was a good visit because of that.”
One sure sign that a program has a legit chance at landing a prospect is if the parents take the time to visit the campus as well.
“My parents, they probably learned more about it than I did because I was with the players a lot,” Callaway said. “So I learned a lot from the players’ point but my parents learned more about it from the coaching and academic point.”
Callaway was in attendance to see Tennessee beat Georgia 38-31 at Neyland Stadium with a sold out crowd of 102,455 back on Oct. 10, getting a grasp of a big-time atmosphere on Rocky Top.
“Neyland Stadium is a big stadium and if I do decide to go there, what I’ve heard from the fans and what I see from social media and when I visited and experienced the Vol Walk, I mean they say the fans are like no place else. I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it and they’re sure right about that because them fans don’t be playing about the Volunteers.”
Butch Jones knows that it takes elite athleticism to compete for a starting spot at a Southeastern Conference school. The Vols leader understands Callaway has what it takes to be that type of player.
“He just talked about how much I was going to impact them if I came,” said Callaway, who’s being recruited by the Vols as a wide receiver.
Under Jones, the Vols went 5-7 his first season before a TaxSlayer Bowl victory and 7-6 finish in 2014 and then most recently a 9-4 mark that included a 45-6 win over then-No. 13 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
“They said that they’re working their way up and that our class could be the difference maker that could take it to the top,” said Callaway, who ranks as the No. 14 athlete in the 2016 class.
Zach Azzanni is Tennessee’s passing game coordinator and he’s been the lead recruiter with Callaway.
Callaway stopped short of naming Tennessee his leader as he has official visits to Ole Miss and Mississippi State still to come.
“I can’t really say because that was only my first official visit. I think I’m going to have to go on them other two so I can get a feeling about it.”
Ohio State is trying to enter the picture and recruiting Callaway to play whatever position he desires. Clemson coaches spent time with Callaway on Thursday just as Azzanni did. That staff hopes to get the athlete to schedule a fourth official visit this month.
“Clemson said something about a mid-week visit. I don’t mind but it’s going to be up to my parents if they want to make their trip,” he said.
If it was up to the playmaker, he’d have the football in his hands.
“I would play receiver if it was up to me but cornerback has opened up a lot of opportunities to me,” the 6-foot-2 1/4, 183-pounder said.
The athlete wants to make a name for himself and develop his own way of succeeding between the lines.
“I don’t really try to play like anybody. I try to play my own style. I like watching Julio Jones and that would be my favorite wide receiver. But I try not to play like those guys,” Callaway said.