MATTHEWS, N.C. — Xavier Peters got an up-close look at what Tennessee football has to offer after tripping down from Ohio this spring.
Coach Butch Jones and linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen have led the charge to get the Scout 300 talent and four-star prospect to give the Vols a glance.
“Aye man, it’s lookin’ nice, man,” Peters told InsideTennessee. “Like comparing them, well I’m not going to compare them to Alabama, but them are both good schools. Just going to Knoxville, you feel so welcomed. Just talking to coach Jones and coach Thig, man, I just love it down there. So I told them I was going to try to come back down and get my parents down there cause I went down with Tyler Bentley and his parents. So coach Jones and coach Thig are going to get with my mom and talk.”
Thigpen’s relationship with the thumper is key to the Big Orange pursuit.
“Me and him building a strong bond,” the Scout No. 1-ranked inside linebacker in the Midwest said. “He told me what spots to go to — Popeye’s or KFC — because you guys don’t got that down there. I was like, ‘Man, you should go to Popeye’s.’ So just that strong bond we building, and I just love the environment there. So it’s real nice between me and him.”
Facilities on Rocky Top are oftentimes an eye-opener for younger talents from out of the region. Peters said he was impressed, including by the contributions of a former Volunteer.
“Oh, man, yes and the Peyton Manning Hall of Fame room. I was like, ‘That’s so great how he can go back and just give all the stuff to the university.’ I look at that as him not being selfish, that’s him and his home. ‘Hey, I’m going to bring my stuff home, and I know it’s safe.' So I like that, I like that. Then the locker room and the field. I went in there and it’s huge. I guess Peyton Manning and them guys get their names hung up against their lockers. That’s pretty neat, that’s nice.”
Tennessee is recruiting the Lakota West (Ohio) High School defender as an outside linebacker.
“I’m lovin’ it, man, I’m lovin’ it,” Peters said.
It’s going to take more time before the No. 205 player in the land comes to a final decision.
“I’m still going through the process,” Peters said. “I’m going to take my officials — Tennessee is one of them. I’m going to take one of my officials there. Just get previews of different schools cause really I’m just trying to get my lower-class men better and get ready for my senior year.”
As a junior, the linebacker totaled 54 tackles (42 solo) and one sack. Peters has been invited to participate in the Under Armour All-America Game.
Peters, who had been dealing with a stress fracture in his foot, got healed up in time to make the seven-hour drive to Charlotte to compete in The Opening Regional just outside the Queen City. The work paid off as Peters earned an invite to this summers The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Oregon.
The 6-foot-3 1/2, 222-pounder clocked a laser-timed 4.82-second 40-yard dash with a shuttle time of 4.33 seconds.
Peters does not plan on enrolling in college in January.
“I’m going to go through my whole senior year and plus I’ve still got to take another ACT. So I’m still waiting on my first results,” he said.