Should the on-campus recruiting staff at Tennessee ever need an extra hand, Adonis Otey could grab an orange polo, clock in and lead players all around Rocky Top.
The Class of 2019 defensive back has made his way to Knoxville “five or six times” to learn about Big Orange football as he’s one of the premier talents among the Volunteer State’s underclassmen.
Tennessee was the defender’s first scholarship offer as the Volunteers pulled the trigger back on Jan. 20, 2016.
Otey was on hand for a junior day recruiting event — his third — on Feb. 18. He’d taken part in another similar event almost exactly one year prior. Also, he saw the Volunteers take on both Ohio and Missouri at Neyland Stadium last fall.
“(Butch Jones) actually had all the Tennessee kids in a meeting, talking about trying to keep us in-state,” Otey said. “It means a lot because he has trust in us and the ability that we have.
“We’re loaded. If we do decide to stay here, we should have a chance to take it all the way.”
Charlton Warren took over for Willie Martinez as Tennessee’s defensive backs coach in January. Otey and Warren already knew one another from when Warren was at North Carolina.
“(Warren) is a little intense,” Otey said. “He said he gets after his guys in practice. He said he knows that if he beasts them to a drill, that’s not good.”
The sophomore also met new Tennessee defensive line coach Brady Hoke and offensive line coach Don Mahoney, but Otey said things are “not really” all that different.
“It’s just the same to me,” Otey said. “I’ve been up here so many times it’s just the same.”
The defensive back’s burning up Interstate-40 between the ‘Boro and Rocky Top doesn’t automatically mean he’s close to committing to being a Tennessee Volunteer.
“I’m just trying to wait that out until my senior year probably,” said Otey, who listed Louisiana State, Louisville, North Carolina, Ohio State and Vanderbilt as other programs expressing interest.
Of the staffs recruiting him the hardest, Otey mentioned “probably Tennessee and Louisville.” He will pay a visit to the Cardinals this spring. He expects to make yet another return visit to Knoxville later in the spring to observe either Team 121 practice or the Orange & White game.
The Scout four-star prospect has heard cornerback is the position of choice for him by the Tennessee staff, but Otey still has two seasons of prep football ahead of him.
“I feel like I can play on both sides of the ball, but I’m fine playing defense,” said Otey, who transferred back to Blackman (Tenn.) High School earlier this year from Franklin Road Academy.
Otey played his freshman season at Blackman before transferring to FRA last summer. With his return this winter to the Blaze, he will add even more eyes to the Rutherford County program, which also has high-level talents in sophomore wide receiver Trey Knox and junior running back Master Teague.
Knox and Otey make up a small portion of a budding crop of mid-state talent for the Class of 2019. Others in the area with Southeastern Conference offers are Siegel High’s Joseph Anderson, Nigerian transplant Ani Izuchukwu, MBA’s Jackson Lampley, East Nashville’s Jashon Watkins, FRA’s Lance Wilhoite and Independence High’s Kendrell Scurry and TJ Sheffield.
The Murfreesboro native Otey plans to test his skills this spring by attending camps in both Atlanta and St. Louis.