Aaron Sterling’s first visit to Tennessee ended in surprise. The Scout three-star defensive end and Alabama commit came to Knoxville for a junior day March 5 and left with a sense of awe at the Vols’ practice amenities as he took a hard look at Tennessee.
"I didn't know their facilities were so amazing,” Sterling told InsideTennessee. “They've got some pretty good facilities. We didn't get to see the dorms because we were pushed behind, but the facilities were great."
The Stone Creek, Georgia, native has been committed to Alabama since Christmas Day but isn’t ruling out any school as he continues taking visits. Tennessee earned a trip from the No. 13-ranked defensive end in the South Region and didn’t disappoint.
"The trip was pretty good,” Sterling said. “The highlight was I really like the facilities. The coaches had welcoming arms. They made it feel like it's a home environment ... It's just a good feeling to come to."
Sterling spoke mainly to defensive graduate assistant Nathan Ollie while also spending time with defensive line coach Steve Stripling and head coach Butch Jones. Jones’ demeanor and ability to relate to players gave a good impression to the rising senior.
"The coaches (stand out),” he said. “The coaches and the facilities. The head coach, he told us he was up to date on the swag. You get all the gear. He makes sure you get all the gear.”
His decision to either stay committed to Alabama or make the jump somewhere will be something he ponders often in the days leading up to his senior season. The No. 34-ranked defensive end in the 2017 class knows he’ll have plenty of options on the table, already boasting offers from premier SEC and ACC schools.
"I'm evaluating everyone,” Sterling said. “I'm just making sure I make the right decision. Florida State just offered, Georgia, Florida and that's really about it that's recent."
While he continues looking at schools and narrowing down his interests, Tennessee expects to be a major player moving forward. If the Vols are able to flip the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Stephenson High School star, they’ll be getting yet another dynamic defensive lineman who can wreak havoc in the backfield.
"I'm a dynamic pass rusher,” Sterling said. “I can get to the quarterback, I can stop the run, just an all-out player. Put me on the field and I'm going to produce."
The process is hard. I really want to narrow it down right now, but that's not going to happen. Probably not until after my senior season I'll start narrowing it down."