When Carlin Fils-Aime heard the news, he couldn't contain a shout. It was something he thought often about, and, when he finally saw it come to fruition, it was a moment of pure, unadulterated joy.
Weeks prior to his Wednesday signing with Tennessee, Fils-Aime found another reason to smile. His recruiter at Miami, a school that showed a keen interest in his deep skill set from his freshman year of high school on, was hired by his college choice. Larry Scott was brought on to Butch Jones' staff from the Hurricanes staff to replace Mark Elder, who took the head coaching job at Eastern Kentucky — reuniting the two in an unlikely scenario that made the newest Tennessee running back literally jump up and down.
“I was going crazy, because when Miami was recruiting me, he was the person who actually gave me my offer and I spoke to all the time," Fils-Aime told InsideTennessee. "Me and him had built a really good relationship, so when I found out he was coming to Tennessee, I went crazy. For a whole week straight, every day, it popped up in my head. I just started jumping up and screaming. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Coach Scott is at Tennessee!”
The Scout four-star running back joined Scott on Rocky Top Wednesday, inking his letter of intent just three days after leaving Knoxville from an official visit. The Naples (Fla.) High School star got one last chance to see the facilties, hang out with a few of his future teammates and take a final look at his new home.
“It was great, of course," Fils-Aime said of his trip. "Every time I go up there I fall more and more in love with it. My official, I felt like I bonded with a couple of players already on the team like Micah Abernathy, Cam Sutton, Alvin Kamara. They’re all really cool.”
Abernathy was Fils-Aime's host for the weekend and helped show the No. 6-ranked running back in the South Region why he chose wisely in picking Tennessee in July. While the appeal of Neyland Stadium, Anderson Training Facility and a bustling campus helped, Fils-Aime ultimatley picked the Vols due to the strong relationships he built with their staff.
“The facilities are really nice, but I would say the coaches and the relationships between the coaches (are why I picked Tennessee)," he told IT. "I would speak to them, and I got to see the true side of them, and they’re really great, genuine people. What they say, they mean. That really went a long way with me. That really drew me closer and closer to Tennessee.”
What the coaching staff told the speedster also had its own appeal. Tennessee believes it can use Fils-Aime, who runs a timed 4.5 40-yard dash and boasts explosive quickness when hitting a hole, both in the backfield and in the air.
“They said speed and they can put me at slot too to catch a couple passes," Fils-Aime said. "They had a side-by-side of the plays that we ran (at Naples) and the plays that they ran. Our plays were very similar.”
Fils-Aime took his official visit to gauge the players he'll be working alongside this fall as he learns from established running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, who make up a locker room that knows what it wants.
Soon, Tennessee's big 2016 running back signee will join the atmosphere that drew him to the Vols in the first place.
"Their vibe is really cool,' Fils-Aime said. "They’re really chill, but they know when it’s time, it’s time. Once they hit the field, they mean business. Other than that, when they’re just hanging out with one another, it’s a really close bond. They’re there for each other and it’s really a family and I love that.”