Rutger Reitmaier got an early Christmas present this past December.
The Lipscomb (Tenn.) School junior defensive tackle learned he’d received a scholarship offer from Tennessee on Dec. 13 and has an opportunity to play Southeastern Conference football in orange and white.
“Obviously I was elated because it’s a hometown team and they’re doing really, really well right now,” Reitmaier told InsideTennessee. “Obviously was really, really excited and still am. They’re pretty high up on my list right now.”
It’s been a team effort out of Knoxville to convince the Music City native to head east for his college football, led by coach Butch Jones, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, defensive line coach Steve Stripling and defensive graduate assistant Nate Ollie.
“(Jones) just tells me how much he really likes me and how much they love me up there,” Reitmaier said. “They want to make that my home.”
Discussions about life away from football have been saved for when Reitmaier speaks with his potential position coach on The Hill.
“I’m still trying to get to know coach Jones a little bit but me and coach Stripling have those kind of talks a lot. Same with me and coach Shoop,” Reitmaier said.
The work put in by the Tennessee staff is starting to pay off.
“I think Tennessee is probably one of my highest interests right now,” Reitmaier said. “I definitely think Tennessee is really high up there. I definitely could see myself going there.
“It’s close to home, and I have really started growing a good relationship with the coaching staff. Also, they’re building a championship team. I just want to be a part of a winning team.”
The Scout three-star prospect got details from conversations with the Orange & White staff about what they like in his game.
“They always tell me they love my speed, my hand violence, how explosive I am off of the ball,” Reitmaier said. “They also say they like my motor and how I run after the guy even if he’s on the opposite side.”
The 1-0-2-4-5-5 experience of Neyland Stadium has not yet been witnessed by Reitmaier, but he has been to Rocky Top.
“I went to their camp last year, and I went to a junior day in December for one of their bowl practices,” said Reitmaier, who plans to return for a junior day on Feb. 20.
Duke, Memphis, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest are the 6-foot-3 ½, 275-pounder’s other five DI scholarship offers. Last fall, he saw games at Auburn, Duke, Notre Dame, Purdue and Vanderbilt.
The D-tackle said two schools are starting to recruit him harder than the rest.
“It’s probably a mixture between Tennessee and Duke,” said Reitmaier, who admitted Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe was in Nashville two weeks ago at Lipscomb.
Reitmaier was “always neutral” growing up but admits he did pull for the in-state schools and admires the work of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
Reitmaier's junior season came to a close in a second-round playoff contest Nov. 13 when Lipscomb fell 28-17 to eventual TSSAA Class 4A state runner-up Pearl Cohn.
He carries a 3.1 grade point average and took the ACT on Saturday.