Maxwell Iyama has a lot of thinking to do.
As coveted as pass rushers are in modern-day football to slow down golden-armed quarterbacks, someone has to hold down the bookend spots to get hands on those defensive ends.
Iyama has the size and shape of being a big-time offensive tackle one day. Tennessee coaches see that and are working to get the mid-state talent in the fold, hosting him Saturday as part of a junior day recruiting event in Knoxville.
“It opened my eyes to see how the program is ran,” Iyama said. “They explained early what they’re about and really like how they do stuff here.”
Tennessee has had staff changes this winter, including Walt Wells taking over for Don Mahoney as offensive line coach.
“They did a good job introducing themselves and showing their personality,” Iyama said. “I like the atmosphere. I like how they did that.”
The prep junior has an idea of what he needs to see in a university and football program before he gives his verbal commitment.
“I just want to have a place that’s going to push me (to be) the best athlete on and off the field that I can be,” the 6-foot-5, 299-pounder said. “I just want to feel at home. Tennessee is one of those places that it could possibly be — and numerous other schools — but they did a good job of opening my eyes today.”
Before it’s all said and done, Iyama could be ranked right behind Cade Mays and Max Wray as the Volunteer State’s premier offensive tackles in the 2018 class. Iyama has scholarship offers from six programs: Eastern Kentucky, Illinois State, Louisville, Memphis, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“I’m hungry for more offers, but I’m not trying to like be a hot head and try to see how many I can get,” the Murfreesboro native said. “I’m not trying to show off. I just want to have as many choices and have a lot of options to choose from.”
No stones are being left unturned as the blocker wants to give each university option a long look before he eventually makes his decision.
“As soon as I got my offer, I started looking at the program and looking at what they had and what they could provide for me,” Iyama said. “I’ve been doing that since the beginning, just picking out schools’ benefits, pros, cons and that.
“What separates some schools is how they keep in touch with me, through how they’re recruiting me. The people that are recruiting me hardest is Tennessee, Memphis and South Carolina. Those are the top schools that are really going at it right now and that’s what separates them. It makes me seem like they’re more interested in me than other schools, but I’m not going to take it for granted."
Iyama is a teammate at Siegel (Tenn.) High School with fellow Vols target Joseph Anderson. The pair have traded notes on the recruiting process.
“What I’ve learned about it is that I just noticed there is more to it than I thought it was in the beginning,” Iyama said. “I learned how to talk to the coaches, I learned how to just stay in place.”