Ayers En Route to Knoxville

Robert Ayers won't ever be confused with the Marlboro Man of cigarette advertising fame, but he is The Man at Marlboro High School in Bennettville, S.C. and on the gridiron the 6-4, 230-pound linebacker smokes like a locomotive.

Robert Ayers recorded 112 tackles as a senior including 28 for minus yardage, six sacks and three interceptions. Rated the nation's No. 8 linebacker by The Insiders, Ayers is winging his way from Bennettville to Knoxville Friday afternoon, beginning what will be a whirlwind tour of southern college campuses.

"He's getting on a plane straight from school to go to Knoxville," his mother Charlotte Dickey said. "When he's through at Tennessee he'll go straight to North Carolina State. At the end of next week he's going to Florida."

After his trip to Gainesville, Ayers will conclude his visits with a stop in Tallahassee. Last week he visited South Carolina and left saying the Gamecocks had pulled into a dead heat with Tennessee and Florida as his favorite. The issue could get a lot more confusing over the next 10 days seeing so many new places, faces and aces — as in recruiting aces.

"It's good to have so many schools wanting him," said Dickey. "I just hopes he stays focused."

Ayers, who has 4.5 speed, could play middle linebacker on the outside or become a speed rusher at defensive end. He would likely play outside linebacker at Tennessee and he likes the Vols tradition of producing good linebackers.

"Florida and Tennessee are my leaders," he told The Insiders Ryan Jordan earlier this month. "The whole state of Florida is just great with the rivalries and stuff, and Tennessee is known for having great linebackers. That is why I like them the most."

It remains to be seen if he will feel the same way this time next week.

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