Vols like Carolina back

A lanky running back who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a junior last fall has showed up on Tennessee's recruiting radar.

Montario Hardesty is a 6-1, 180-pounder who ran for 1,917 yards and 19 touchdowns in guiding New Bern (N.C.) High School to the 2003 state title game against Charlotte Independence High. Since then he has been targeted by recruiters from throughout the Southeast and Midwest.

''I'm just taking it all in,'' Hardesty told Chris Puckett of UvaInsider.com.

Hardesty already has scholarship offers from North Carolina and North Carolina State. He also has heard from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida State.

Tennessee signed three touted running backs in February of 2000 -- Jabari Davis, Cedric Houston and Derrick Tinsley but none has lived up to his prep All-America billing and all three will be seniors next fall. With the Vols always on the lookout for tailbacks with big-play potential, Hardesty just might be destined to fill the bill.

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