Photo by Chad Simmons

Vols future 'didn’t just fall out of the sky' for K'Rojhn Calbert

Not all roads leading to National Signing Day are the same. When K'Rojhn Calbert inks with Tennessee, it will be because the McMinnville native earned it.

K’Rojhn Calbert will take a deep breath on National Signing Day, know his collegiate home is at Tennessee and won’t for one second take for granted the opportunity.

In limited time on the prep gridiron but with an extended presence on the summer camp circuit, the Scout three-star prospect is a talent whose upside is what has Vols coaches salivating.

“Man, it’s been so surreal this past 6-8 months,” Calbert told InsideTennessee. “But, you’re right, I did work my tail off. It didn’t just fall out of the sky for me. I knew it was go time.

“Four or five years ago, I was sitting at a Tennessee basketball game. It was their homecoming and they actually won. After the game, Cuonzo Martin was down there on his show or whatever. You can go see him and talk to him, stuff like that. I go down there. I told him, I was like, ‘I hope to be doing this one day. I hope to actually be sitting down signing with a college school one day. That was back when I was hoping; I didn’t really think it was going to happen.

“I wanted it a long time ago. Now that it’s happened, man, there’s just so many emotional feelings.

“My grandmother, she’s always been there for me. My (grand) father who’s passed away, he was there for me as well. These people that I’m making happy around where I live and just not them, myself as well. It’s really emotional. When I actually sign that dotted line man, I’ll probably break down tears of joy, but I’ll also know that once I sign on that line, it’s going to be time to work.”

Calbert earned a Tennessee scholarship in October and verbally committed Nov. 16. While he had officially visited South Carolina before his declaration, Calbert hasn't wavered on his decision at any point this winter. He unofficially tripped up to Rocky Top on Saturday.

“I was there just hanging around the coaches, just getting the reassurance of why I first came to Tennessee and chose Tennessee and I still have those same feelings,” said Calbert, who expects to wear No. 74. “It feels like home and I just know that those coaches will be there for you anytime I need them.”

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney and offensive quality control coach Walt Wells have headed up the charge alongside coach Butch Jones to land the McMinnville native.

“I got to hang around coach Mahoney and coach Walt Wells,” Calbert said. “Those two guys right there are really special to me just because — well I feel like Butch is, too — those two guys I feel like have been the most real to me. When they say something, they’ll go do it. They’re just special to me.”

The Warren County (Tenn.) High School senior played left tackle and defensive tackle for the Pioneers, however, there’s uncertainty where he’ll line up once he arrives at Tennessee.

“They told me, ‘K’Rojhn, we honestly don’t know where we’re going to put you,’ and they said that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing because if you’re useful, we can use you anywhere on the line,” the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder said. “I’m happy with that statement because I really don’t know where preferably I’d like to play just because this is my first full year of football and my first time being on the offensive line. I’ve always been a defensive guy.

“That’s a good thing just because I’m a blank slate and wherever they tell me that I have to play and work on these things, then I don’t have any bad habits and hopefully the good habits follow me. I’ll be interested to see.”

The Scout No. 3-ranked offensive tackle in the Volunteer State’s 2017 class spent time around Team 121 members while in town.

“I got to see Trey (Smith) and Jarrett Guarantano,” Calbert said. “It’s going to be a good season I feel like. We’ve got a new strength and conditioning coach; he seems legit. I see success for the next 4-5 years and more after that. That’s what I see, or that’s what I get from them anyway. They’re positive. None of them are selfish. None of them are cocky or anything like that. They’re all ready to work and that’s what I’m most excited about.”

The No. 57-ranked tackle in the nation plans to take part in a signing day ceremony at Warren County High School on Wednesday at 11:20 a.m. Central.

Up next, Calbert will lead the Pioneers basketball team down the stretch of their season before the district tournament comes to McMinnville.

Between the end of basketball and when he moves into the Stokely Residence Hall in Knoxville on June 1, Calbert plans to work on “muscle stamina and short burst.”

Things will get cranked up once the blocker gets under the thumb of first-year Tennessee strength and conditioning director Rock Gullickson.

“He was nice, fun to talk to,” Calbert said.

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