Deciding factors of Vols' 2017 signing class

The big day is finally here as Tennessee welcomes some new additions of the 2017 class to the Vols' roster. Read below to learn the deciding factors of those joining Team 121.

Deandre Johnson’s decision:

"I just felt it in the air when I went up there. I was comfortable, my parents were comfortable, and it just felt right in my heart.

"The campus is live, man. The fans are all over the place and it's very busy down there; there's a lot of people."

Riler Locklear's decision:

“I’m really excited to begin a new beginning to really be able to work out and come in early and really meet with the coaches and just build on the relationships that I’ve made with them. It’s definitely an exciting time. I like to be around new people and socialize and do those kinds of things. So I’m really looking forward to it.”

Will McBride’s decision:

“I think it’s a great opportunity. It’s definitely intriguing that I could be the starter if I’m the best guy. The competition is going to make everyone better because everyone is going to be aiming for that job. It is exciting. I know that there’s a chance that I could be the starter, but you’ve just got to work at it.”

Shanon Reid’s decision: 

"They stuck with me the whole time through the crazy recruiting process. It got crazy, but they still showed me love and came to see me multiple times.

"Even though they hadn't heard from me since the summer, they reached out to come see me and set up an official visit, and that showed they really cared for me. Everybody says I'm a game-changer, and I can be that guy to come in and fit into that position because they really need help at LB."

Trey Smith’s decision: 

"Really, I'd say it was the players to a certain extent. A lot of guys and especially the O-line room, we just have a great relationship. The things (Tennessee) coach (Butch) Jones has in place to be successful not only in football but in regards to life after football, they're excellent. Picking on being an in-state guy, the abilities after football, what I can do for myself, my family, I mean you really can't turn them down.”

Matthew Butler's decision:

“(Tennessee) coach (Butch) Jones likes transparency and is just down to earth. There’ve been times where I’ve been on an official visit or just a visit and the coach is not reachable, not obtainable, not easy to talk to. Coach Jones, he engages in conversation. He was like our friend for the weekend — he’s not going to be our friend for long, he’s going to be coaching us and being hard on us — but he was there, he was around, he was great.”

Shawn Shamburger’s decision:

“Me and him spent a lot of time together. We talked one-on-one a lot. We actually looked at a few defensive strategies and things of this nature. Well, not defensive strategy, but looking at things he did in the past and stuff with UNC. We came together and we just talked and kind of bonded together. He’s more of a father figure to me now. So because of that, I love him.

“Going into it, you have a new guy, so you really have a clean slate. There’s nothing to be worried about. As far as coming in, I feel like I have a shot just as anyone else coming in.”

Kivon Bennett's decision:

"I chose Tennessee because of the amount of love they showed me. Since they offered me, they've talked to me like, almost everyday. Also, I have a great opportunity to come in and play early and make an impact.

"Lastly, who doesn't love SEC football?"

Solon Page III's decision:

“I really wasn’t planning on it when I first was going up there. I mean I was thinking about just committing somewhere a few weeks before — just anywhere really — but after taking to coach Jones and talking to coach Thigpen, it really put everything in perspective for me. I was like, ‘Hey this is definitely somewhere I would want to go.’

“Coach Jones, when we were talking, he was saying that I’m the No. 1 linebacker on his board. Coming from any other coach I would have just been, ‘OK, thank you.’ But coming from the head coach, that’s really something.”

Joshua Palmer’s decision:

 “I also want to thank the coaches that I have built strong relationships with during this recruitment process and helping me realize that there are coaches that care about your future. With this I’m proud to announce that I am shutting down my recruitment and happy to say that I will be extending my academic and athletic careers at the University of Tennessee.”

Cheyenne Labruzza's decision:

“The main reason why I fell in love with Tennessee was because the coaching staff showed that they really wanted me and how they plan to use me. From there on, I looked at the depth chart, and I have the opportunity to come in and play. And it’s definitely a great school.”

James Brown's decision:

“I got to spend more time with the players, and that really just helped me get a feel for the place. Hanging out and knowing people, and meeting different people just helped me get a feel of the place and know if it's home or not. And it’s home.

“I see it as fate. It came so late. (Other schools) could have offered me a while ago, but Tennessee trusted me. They saw my ability. They said they can use me in different ways, so I just trusted them and they trusted me."

Terrell Bailey's decision:

“I chose Tennessee because I’ve been liking them for awhile. I have a good relationship with the coaches.

“I just like them, and I’ve been having a good relationship with the coaches. That’s what gives them the upper hand in this situation. Ever since they offered me they’ve been on me.”

Maleik Gray's decision:

“We just started talking and he was telling me a little bit about himself and I told him a little bit about myself. We had a great connection. I just felt like it was a good time for us to get to know each other better. It seems like with him taking control of the defense, he’s leading them in the right direction. That’s what I like. I really like him a lot.

“(Shoop) also recruited me from Vandy and it’s just the stuff that he showed me and I feel like he’s wanting to be the best and that’s what I want to be — a part of the best.”

Ryan Thaxton’s decision:

“We went to the hotel first and then went to the school. As soon as I walked to the stadium, I knew this is where I wanted to be at. I can go out there and make a change for the team. We can go to the SEC championship, the national championship. It’s a great atmosphere. As soon as I walked into the stadium I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Eric Crosby's decision:

“The coaches really show how much they really care about each individual and that’s what stuck out to me.

"The fans are also great, the game-day atmosphere is great and so is Knoxville. They also have a lot of brand new facilities. It was a tough decision, but Tennessee is just the best fit for me."

Ty Chandler's decision:

“I think they’re on the rise. Last year they got some good recruits. This year they’ve got some more great recruits coming in. So, I think Tennessee football is on the rise, and I think they’re going to do some great things next year.”

LaTrell Bumphus:

“They think that they can be the right fit for me, and they can see me getting in there pretty quick.

“Big things are going to happen.”

K’Rojhn Calbert’s decision:

“They talk to me on a daily basis. Coach Walt Wells, he’s the one that’s been recruiting me since satellite camps. Him and I, we’ve gained a great relationship over the last 4-5 months that’s been passed. (Tennessee coordinator of high school relations Patrick) Abernathy, when I go up there, he’s always excited about me. Coach Mahoney is always excited about me. Coach Jones, he’s ecstatic about me. That just means a lot as a player.”

Tim Jordan's decision:

“I like the environment. It was real big. I just liked how the coaches and players get along, everybody bonds really good like family.

“It’s definitely bigger than most schools and the environment and the school really likes football.

"I just like how the coaching staff and the players get along. They bond real well."

Jacquez Jones' decision:

“It’s just that when I went up there, I liked the vibe that was going on up there. I like the tradition that goes on up there in the school. The coaches, I felt like the coaches had a good vibe with me. I like the classes that they’re going to have me in in school. I liked ‘The Rock.’ I like that they change ‘The Rock’ and the tradition there. Just a family vibe. You’re playing in the SEC, and you just want to be the best. So I feel like that’s what I want to do."

Jordan Murphy's decision:

“What stood out was just being there; I like just being there really.

"It is their facilities, how their coaches greet, and most of all, there care more about your grades than anything else, so that is why I chose them on top, and I have liked Tennessee for the longest."

Marquez Bembry's decision:

“I’d say some things that impressed me were the Peyton Manning Room — I was really impressed by that. I think he had a 541-yard passing game and it had his jersey, cleats and gloves and all that. So there’s lots of cool stuff in there — all of his MVP awards and stuff like that. So once you see stuff like that, you kind of get motivated to strive to be like that person.

"(I wanted to be) part of a great team with great guys, being able to come in and be vocal, come in with guys that are seniors, juniors, sophomores that’s going to help me out when I come into this new process.”

Trey Coleman's decision:

"(The coaching staff) always stayed honest and true. They never false communicated with me. They still communicate with me the same way when I wasn’t offered. It’s just a love thing and they love me and they need me and I’m going to try to contribute as a freshman.

"They’re just honest about everything. I can ask them a question about anything. We have open conversations. I appreciate the fact that I can come to them like a father or anybody who would want to talk to me. I appreciate that a lot — the honesty of them.”

Brent Cimaglia's decision:

"Once they saw how consistent and how clean of a ball I was hitting, (they offered me).

"Wherever the coach puts me. I could probably make it."

Theo Jackson's decision:

“I can’t really explain it, it was excitement through all the coaches.

“Once one (recruit) committed…I mean I was already going to commit, but those early commits kind of made me want to at that time,” Jackson said.

Will Ignont's decision:

"I'm excited to strap up and play for (Tennessee) coach (Butch) Jones and ready to learn from (linebackers) coach (Tommy) Thigpen (but) most importantly to be a part of something special!"

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