Ja'Kouri Williams Race Heats Up

The longer the chase for Plaquemine High School running back Ja'Kouri Williams goes, the more interesting it gets.

Six weeks ago it looked like the Vols were the favorite to sign the nation's No. 7 rated running back, but Michigan pulled into co-leader status after Ja'Kouri Williams paid a visit to Ann Arbor on Dec. 5.

A week later he visited Tennessee and the Vols appeared to solidified their standing, but now Auburn has entered the picture and Williams plans to take a visit to the Plains next week.

Events this week have changed the dynamics of the competition. First Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville was in Plaquemine, La., on Sunday for an in-home visit with Williams. Tuberville was followed by Phil Fulmer last night (Wednesday) and Lloyd Carr will be there tonight (Thursday).

On Monday, Tennessee's chances took an upturn with the announcement Tulane assistant Trooper Taylor was being brought on staff to replace running backs coach Woody McCorvey, who took over as offensive coordinator at Mississippi State last month. Filling the coaching vacancy at the position Williams plays is a definitely plus for the Vols while hiring a coach to recruit Louisiana that Williams already knows and likes is a bonus.

The latest boost to UT's chances with Williams occurred on Wednesday when Tiger running backs Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Ronnie Brown announced they would return to Auburn for their senior seasons.

Meanwhile, Michigan has received commitments from the nation's No. 14 rated running back Max Martin (6-1, 216, 4.5) of Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala., and another commitment from the nation's No. 18 rated running back, Mike Hart (5-10, 175, 4.56) of Onondaga High School in Nedrow, N.Y. The Wolverines also return backups David Underwood, a senior, and Pierre Rembert, a freshman.

Without an established starter, much less a star at running back, Tennessee can offer Williams early playing opportunity and his 4.4 speed would give the Vols an outside running threat they don't presently have.

Furthermore, Tennessee hasn't committed another running back in the 2004 recruiting class which should also enhance it's chances of signing Williams.

But will it be enough to offset Auburn's late rush and last visit?

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