Jamarcus Chatman thought he knew which Southeastern Conference program would be his future home. Then, he visited Tennessee.
The Rome (Ga.) High School defensive lineman made his way to Knoxville on Saturday to take part in Orange Carpet Day. Within 20 hours of the recruiting trip to Tennessee being complete, Chatman backed off a verbal pledge to Louisiana State that had been in place since April 22, causing the Tigers to surrender the No. 2 spot in Scout's national team recruiting rankings to Ohio State.
“After many hours of prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided to decommit from Louisiana State University and re-open my recruitment,” Chatman said in a release Sunday. “This was a very hard decision to make. I would like to thank coach (Ed Orgeron) and the whole Louisiana State University coaching staff. I still think Louisiana State University is a great place to be, but this is the right decision for me.”
Curiosity got the better of the 6-foot-2 ½, 264-pounder after months of hearing about how special of a place Tennessee is, which sparked his getting in the car with Rome teammates over the weekend.
“I heard it was a nice stadium and nice campus, so after what everyone told me, I had to come up here and visit,” said Chatman, who has a sister-in-law at Tennessee.
“It was awesome. I got to meet coach (Butch) Jones. All the coaching staff, they showed that they really wanted me. They made me feel like I was family.”
The Vols “definitely” gave him something to think about with his recruitment. They also were the first SEC program to offer a scholarship to Chatman, pulling the trigger back on Feb. 23.
“When I first got it, I was ecstatic, I was so happy,” he said. “My brother, he was real happy because they’re big Tennessee fans. Everybody in my family was real happy.”
Chatman is tight with Rome teammate and fellow defensive lineman Ja'Quon Griffin (LSU commit) and said the chance of them going to separate colleges is “probably not” going to happen. Griffin, who originally committed to the Tigers the same day as Chatman, picked up a Vols offer Friday.
Chatman, who was impressed by the campus in his one trip to Baton Rouge, spoke about the people on Rocky Top being different from other places he’s been.
“The fans, everyone shows love, everybody showed a lot of attention. I like the academic area in Tennessee,” the Scout four-star prospect said.
Should Chatman decide to play for the Orange & White, he will have plenty of support on the home front.
“My family, they’re comfortable with whatever I choose, but they like Tennessee,” Chatman said.