Schaeffer Steps Up Before Signing Off

Brent Schaeffer was under the weather today, but he put Tennessee fans on top of the world when he stepped into the glare of media spotlight at Deerfield Beach High School and declared himself a Volunteer.

His commitment to UT brought a six-month courtship to a climatic conclusion as he chose the Vols over Kansas State, South Florida, Auburn and North Carolina State which he visited last weekend. Conventional wisdom suggested Schaeffer's decision came down to North Carolina State and Tennessee with the Vols drawing away, but he relates a different version of events.

"It was hard," he said Wednesday evening. "I didn't decide until this morning. I was still considering North Carolina State, Auburn and Tennessee last night, but right after I woke up this morning I decided I was going to Tennessee."

So was his choice based on in-depth analysis of the contenders pluses and minuses, on personnel and depth charts and graduation rates and educational opportunities?

"It was just a feeling I had," Schaeffer said. "Tennessee is where I felt I wanted to be."

Although UT got a late start recruiting Schaeffer relative to other such premiere signal callers the Vols pursued — like Anthony Morrelli, Chad Hene, Chase Patton, Brian Brohm and Drew Weatherford — Tennessee was among the first major powers to take notice of Schaeffer's achievements. For a quarterback that had been overshadowed by a trio of Florida high school quarterbacks — Weatherford, Xavier Lee and Corneilus Ingram — Tennessee's interest was confirmation of his own rapid ascension on the national scene. A personal visit by UT boss Phillip Fulmer for one of Schaeffer's Friday home games in October turned out to be a major milepost in the recruitment of the quicksilver signal caller. Fulmer also came away impressed by what he saw of Schaeffer.

"Coach Fulmer came to see him play and it was against a great rival," Deerfield Beach head coach Joe Redmond recalled. "He was there and Florida State and South Florida. There must have been eight or nine schools there. All of them left saying they thought he was the ‘most accurate passer they have ever seen in high school.?"

Schaeffer would eventually lead his team to a 12-2 record and the Florida Class-6A semifinals. In the process he earned Broward County player of the year and all-state honors. He also kept climbing the ratings and is currently ranked No. 14 nationally by The Insiders.

As word of Schaeffer's success began to circulate other teams tried to get involved, but he stayed true to the early suitors and took all five of his official visits, beginning with Tennessee.

When Schaeffer was told of Eric Ainge's commitment to Tennessee and later Brian Brohm's commitment to Louisville, his reaction was essentially the same.

"Who's that?" he asked. "Oh, is that the quarterback from Oregon? It doesn't matter to me who they sign. I'm not making a decision based on the competition. I'm not afraid of competition."

That confidence is reflected in the statement Schaeffer made when asked if there was anything he'd like to tell UT fans on the day he signed on with the Big Orange?

"I want to let them know they won't be sorry I signed with Tennessee," he said. "I'm coming there to work my hardest and try to lead Tennessee to a national championship."

There wasn't any celebration for Brent Schaeffer on Wednesday as he was battling flu symptoms and needed rest to get well for the ongoing basketball season. He might have stayed home on Wednesday but once his heart was set on Tennessee he wanted to make it official.

"I was feeling under the weather but I did it," he said. "I'm going to have a party later on. Right now, I'm going back to bed."

Raise a bottle of Robbitussin to UT's newest QB.

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