BRENT SCHAEFFER: (6-3, 200, 4.45, QB) Mobility and accuracy are Schaeffer's forte as the senior has completed 78 percent of his passes after connecting on 74 percent as a junior. The swift southpaw has been a standout in Florida's toughest classification and is considered one of the very best quarterbacks to ever come out of Broward County, and one of the three best dual threat QBs nationally in Class of 2004. Has run for for 32 touchdowns and passed for 56 over two seasons. Got lost in the shadows of Florida's big three QBs — Drew Weatherford, Xavier Lee and Corneilus Ingram — after transferring from Dillard High School and not gaining the starters job until he was a junior. Pair him with Oregon QB prospect Erik Ainge and let the best man win. Such a recruiting coup would give Vols great diversity at signal caller. Such a scenario could play out before Christmas although Schaeffer is still expected to visit Kansas State. Schaeffer was able to move his visit up from Jan. 16 to this weekend after Deerfield lost in the state Class-6A semifinal game 31-28.
KYLE MITCHELL: (6-4, 265. 5.44, OL) Ranked nation's No. 4 lineman, Mitchell, of Mcdowell High School in Erie, Pa., is explosive, tenacious and a master of mechanics. Tennessee is definitely in the running as Mitchell isn't considering either in-state school (Penn State and Pittsburgh). He's already visited Iowa and has another set for Ohio State on Jan. 9. Michigan is also in line to host this premiere lineman. As the only non Big Ten — or is it eleven? — Tennessee will certainly pose a contrast to the competition and may be good especially in December. Mitchell probably needs a year to gain weight and strength. Has good lateral quickness and sound instincts.
KENT HICKS: (6-3, 207, 4.55, SS) rated No. 5 nationally at strong safety by The Insiders, but may be seen more as a linebacker by Tennessee. However given the way Vols use the strong safety, as so deftly displayed by Gibril Wilson this season, he could do both. That makes Hicks a particularly good fit for Vols Culpepper County High School (Culpepper, Va.) product particularly in light of his size, quickness and physical style of play. The bad news is that he committed to Maryland last weekend. The good news is if Vols can get him on campus, the competition remains open, and assistant Larry Slade really shines in this setting. Let him pop a video in the VCR of Wilson's highlights this season and remind him of the noise 107,000 can make after a big smack down. Virginia and VA Tech are lurking in the shadows, but no visit has been set for Blacksburg and he's already visited UV. Has a 34.6 vertical but some questions persist about speed. Not that such questions have scared anyone off.
JA'KOURI WILLIAMS (5-11, 185, 4.4, RB) Nation's No. 7 ranked RB is just the type of outside running threat Vols are looking for, and Tennessee is considered the team to beat at this point. Tennessee targeted the player I call "Ferrari" Williams because of his redline speed and tight turning radius, very early and have stayed on him heavily. Has excellent vision with the ability to pop out of assigned hole to hit an opening on either side. Michigan pulled into a tie with Vols after he visited Ann Arbor last week and Nebraska is slated a visit on Jan. 16. Vols will have to overcome loss of running backs coach Woody McCorvey to land this keeper. Or should I say beeper as in the Roadrunner — BEEP! BEEP!
EDDIE ROYAL (5-10, 170, 4.34, WR) Ranked No. 19 among the nation's wide receivers and much higher among the deep threats. Would fill another need Vols have in WR corps with his ability to stretch defenses vertically and could greatly enhance the return of Robert Meachem. Has averaged nearly 20 yards per reception at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., the last two years. Great leaping ability (37-inch vertical), very good hands and surprisingly strong. Could also return kicks and would free Jonathan Wade to play DB next fall for Vols. Has visits set for Virginia (Jan, 16), Virginia Tech (Jan. 23) and Marshall (Jan. 30). Probably the best chance UT has at landing an impact receiver this recruiting year.
QUINCY BUTLER (6-2, 200, 4.45) Probably the nation's top JUCO cornerback plus he has the size and speed to play all three DB positions much as Julian Battle did for Tennessee in 2002. Originally from Roosevelt High School in San Antonio, Texas, the Tyler JC sophomore is looking hard at Kansas, Texas A&M and Missouri all of which he has visited. Tennessee may get the last chance to make the best impression as Iowa is fading from the picture. Vols have done well turning JUCO products after they visited and it's hard to argue with the success UT has sustained developing JC players into NFL draft choices. If Vols can land Butler he probably starts from Day One and could give Tennessee the two most physical corners in the SEC.
DEWAYNE GRACE (6-1, 172, 4.45, CB) This cover corner from Ed White High School in Jacksonville, Fla. is rated No. 19 nationally. A typical Sunshine State fast DB with outstanding quickness and transition skills. Miami and Florida are leading for his services and it would be an upset if he leaves the state. Still... he plans to be at Tennessee this weekend and Maryland next, so he's considering his options. Purdue and Iowa are also fringe contenders but haven't got "Amazing" Grace to schedule a visit. Gators have him in Gainesville on Jan. 16 so odds are this one will take awhile to close.
DAVID HOLBERT (6-1, 231, 4.50, FB) This Brentwood Academy product checks in at No. 48 nationally among players at this position. However, he would likely rate much higher if considered only among fullbacks. Could also play linebacker, as he ideal credentials to man the middle. Very tough and physically strong — he benches 320 and squats 520. He has visits slated for Florida (Jan. 16) and LSU (Jan. 23) so competition will be intense. He's also looking at Auburn, South Carolina and Louisville. Tennessee has openings on both sides of the ball Holbert could help fill which along with his in-state status gives Vols a great shot.
RAMON FOSTER (6-7, 285, 5.25, OL) Vols already have a verbal from this Ripley, Tenn., giant, who projects as an offensive tackle on the next level. He's rated No. 70 nationally and is the first O-lineman UT has committed to this point. He has visited Michigan State and he has a brother who plays at Louisville, but he's expected to stick by his verbal pledge to be a Vol. Needs some polish but has plenty of potential especially as a pass protector.
JAMIE THOMAS (6-4, 320, 5.0, OL) This big man may qualify as a sleeper given his No. 88 national ranking by The Insiders. Massive prospect probably tips the scales closer to 335 now depending on what he ate for lunch. He visited Maryland last week and Vols this week plus he's set for Notre Dame on Jan. 16. A player Vols head coach is said to really like. He's also looking at North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia. Tennessee is currently listed as his favorite along with Maryland. Thomas, who attends Bishop Mcdevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pa., won't be a big boost to anyone's class ranking, but he'll help one team's offensive line a lot.
GARRY PACK (6-1, 210, 4.5, LB) Another underrated prospect (No. 87 nationally by The Insiders), Pack is no pack mule as his 4.5 speed clearly illustrates. Also strong and smart — he benches 375 and has earned All-Academic honors at Oak Grove Attendance Center in Hattiesburg, Miss. He has no shortage of admirers with LSU, Florida State, Mississippi and Southern Mississippi all in hot pursuit along with Tennessee. Vols get the first shot at convincing Pack, who has visits planned for FSU (Jan. 9), USM (Jan. 16) and Ole Miss (Jan. 23), to join the squad. A first team all-state selection as a junior, Pack would remind Vol fans of an Eddie Moore type Will linebacker.