Big Lineman Looks Out of State

In what appears to be a very good year for in-state football prospects, the Vols may offer up to a dozen high school prospects from the state of Tennessee.

However there is at least one potential prize that is already slipping away. According to a story published Sunday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Tennessee is trailing the Razorbacks in its effort to land McKenzie High School offensive tackle Paul Edwards.

The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Edwards took an unofficial visit to Arkansas' campus during spring break and plans to return for the Houston Nutt Camp along with teammate Will Merrick, a sophomore linebacker and rising star.

"I was impressed with the campus," Edwards was quoted. "I got to meet Coach Nutt and (offensive line) Coach (Mike) Markuson. They're both real nice guys. Coach Markuson showed me around the campus and school. I like the small student body."

Edwards, who has 5.25 speed, is said to favor the Razorbacks over Mississippi, Vanderbilt and Alabama. He said Tennessee began to recruit him with gusto since it became apparent he might end up at Arkansas.

"I'm not really considering Tennessee much right now," Edwards said. "They weren't really showing me much interest early, but now they are trying to get in the mix. Coach Markuson and Coach Nutt know I'm very interested in Arkansas."

Edwards credits Merrick's grandfather with furthering his interest in the Razorbacks. Markuson developed what was an outstanding offensive line for Arkansas last year taking a personal hand in recruiting many of its members. Two Razorback O-linemen were taken in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft over the weekend, including Shawn Andrews a first round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. That could be a good selling point with any aspiring line prospect, but Edwards motivation may be more mundane.

I'm looking for a place where I have a second home away from home and a nice atmosphere," Edwards said.

Unless UT's coaching staff puts out the welcome mat, Edwards may end up feeling Northwest Arkansas is more like his west Tennessee home than east Tennessee is.

We'll keep you posted on further developments.

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