Plenty of schools are doing their best to get Richard Jibunor out to their campuses for a visit, but a trip to Knoxville on Saturday for Orange Carpet Day was a must-see event for the Scout four-star prospect.
“I’ll never turn down an opportunity to be around (Tennessee),” the rising senior out of Athens Christian School in Georgia said.
“I’ve been with (Tennessee) coach (Butch) Jones since (Friday). And we’ve been talking the whole time, and he really wants me to come here. He told me he knows about my story and everything, and he said he loves me for who I am, not only for the football player. But he said he’d be very, very happy to coach me. So he’s been telling me that, and I really believe in that.”
The 6-foot-3, 206-pound outside linebacker has received enough attention form the Orange & White coaching staff to deem it a “top school” among his choices. A lot of that stems from his relationship with Vols linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen.
“(Thigpen) can’t wait to have me,” Jibunor said. “(Thigpen says) that I could be someone that he could use really good.
“He really likes me and wants me to commit.”
After multiple campus visits alongside of them, the nation’s No. 19-ranked outside linebacker in the 2018 class has also familiarized himself with other Tennessee targets like Volunteer State natives Greg Emerson and D’Andre Litaker.
“They’re cool to be around,” the Peach State native said. “Sometimes we just shout out to each other on Twitter and just stuff like that.”
The pass rusher’s athleticism and versatility has allowed him to be recruited at several different positions such as defensive end, linebacker and tight end by various schools, although Tennessee is primarily recruiting the Scout 300 member as a linebacker.
“Whatever the coaches feel,” Jibunor said. “If I should play at linebacker, defensive end, even a strong safety, tight end. My offer came as a tight end initially then, and you know it doesn’t matter. I just want to win ballgames, and I’d be ready to play whatever as long as it’s going to be a benefit to the team.”
As he aims to hopefully narrow his options by August, Jibunor looks ahead to two school visits this week at Alabama and Florida, as well as a trip to Clemson in the near future. He plans to make his way back to Rocky Top in the fall, too.
“Definitely, I will be (at Tennessee), by the grace of God, when they play Georgia,” he said.