Tennessee Quick To Offer Slick

In 2003 Tennessee hit the wideout jackpot — signing a trio of All-Americans in Bret Smith, Jayson Swain and Robert Meachem — but this year the Vols failed to sign a wide receiver which makes 2005 critical if UT is to reclaim its title as Wide Receiver U.

This recruiting priority hasn't escaped the attention of Phillip Fulmer & Co. as the Vols have already identified and offered one of the nation's best pass-catching threats in Slick Shelley, a sleek 6-foot-4, 180-pound wide receiver from Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The senior-to-be at Fort Smith Southside High School exploded on the gridiron scene as sophomore when he caught 56 passes for 1,019 yards and 15 touchdowns to help lead the Rebels to the Class-5A state title. As a junior he nabbed 62 aerials for 873 yards an 16 TDs and also returned 21 kickoffs for 611 yards (an average of 29.1 per return) and another score.

Born in Berlin, Germany, Shelley has moved around the world as the son of a military man. His family came to Fort Smith when he was in the seventh grade. He has been to several Arkansas games in nearby Fayetteville, but says he doesn't currently have a favorite.

"I want to go to a school where they pass the football," Shelley was quoted in today's issue of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "I'm also looking at the academics, the school itself, facilities and the environment."

A rangy receiver with good leaping ability and sure hands, Shelley has 4.5 flat speed and outstanding acceleration with that much sought after separation gear. He currently has a list of seven schools he is looking seriously at, including Tennessee, Michigan, Miami, Arkansas, LSU, Iowa and Nebraska.

Shelley only plans to attend a team camp at Tulsa this summer, as he's looking to catch on with an AAU basketball team. That will likely make this a long recruiting process, but don't be surprised if he doesn't manage to squeeze a couple of one-day senior camps at colleges into his summer schedule.

With his nearly lethal combination of size, speed and skills, Shelley would be an excellent fit in UT's current WR corps and living on the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma he should feel right at home playing with Bret Smith of Warren, Ark., and Robert Meachem of Tulsa, Okla.

Look for Tennessee to be a serious contender, but don't expect Slick to make a quick pick.

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