Top 5 linebackers on UT's Wish List

With fifth-year senior Kevin Burnett headed to the NFL, Kevin Simon coming off season-ending surgery for the third time in four years and no underclassmen emerging as contributors this season, Tennessee needs to reinforce its linebacker corps with solid prospects.

Here are the top five linebackers in the Class of 2005 most interested in Volunteering for service at Tennessee next fall.

(1) EUGENE HAYES: 6-1, 218, of Madison County High School in Madison, Fla. A five-star prospect ranked No. 3 among the nation's linebacker prospects by Scout.com, Hayes pursues the ball with passion and sacks signal callers with fashion. As a junior, the player known as Geno recorded 18.5 sacks, good for third in the Sunshine State. As a senior he recorded over 100 tackles and 12 sacks. He attributes his success as a pass rusher to a dislike of quarterbacks. "I want to play defensive end because I don't like quarterbacks," he said. "They are a bunch of pretty boys." A big-time hitter with 4.6 speed, Hayes could play on the edge or develop into an active run stopper in the middle. He has excellent upper body strength, good lateral quickness and a 34-inch vertical leap. Hayes favors leaving the state to play college football which opens the field. He attended the Auburn-Georgia game last week and has moved the Tigers into the favorite category. Prior to that he favored USC where he is scheduled to visit this weekend. He also took an official visit to Georgia (Oct. 1) but has since eliminated the Bulldogs from his top four. He has a visit slated to Knoxville for Jan. 14 and may set a visit to Oklahoma. He has been to a couple of Florida State games but, reportedly, has low interest in becoming a Seminole.

(2) TODD COX, 6-1, 190, of Harding Academy, Memphis, Tenn. One of four, five-star prospects in Tennessee this season, Cox checks in at No. 9 among an outstanding linebacker class. Undersized by college standards, Cox could play safety at the next level until he gains the bulk and strength to battle big linemen and take on lead blockers. He has respectable 4.6 speed which is augmented by great quickness, anticipation and physicality. He doubled as a running back for Harding Academy and gained 950 yards in just 80 carries as a junior. He has been to three Tennessee games this season and will return to Knoxville for an official visit. The Vols have the inside track, but Florida remains a formidable contender that could close ground once a new head coach is named. SEC schools Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss are also in the picture.

(3) RICO McCOY: 6-2, 215, of St. Johns College High School in Washington, D.C. With good size and exceptional strength, Rico McCoy is the real McCoy at middle linebacker where his 4.55 speed enables him to pursue the ball outside the hash marks. Ranked the nation's No. 14 linebacker prospect, McCoy recorded 120 tackles with five sacks and three caused fumbles as a junior. He boasts a 320-pound bench press, a 585-pound squat and has a 34-inch vertical leap. Still just 16 years old, McCoy has amazing upside that should manifest quickly at the next level. He has official visits set for Ohio State (Dec. 3), Tennessee (Dec. 10) and Miami (Dec. 17). Pittsburgh and Michigan appear to have fallen out of contention while Florida State is a possibility for an official visit. McCoy has a qualifying core but took the SAT for the first time in October.

(4) ANDRE MATHIS, 6-2, 225, of Cathedral Prepatory School in Erie, Pa. This big, four-star linebacker has 4.6 speed and is rated the nation's No. 19 prospect at his position by Scout.com. He averaged 10 tackles a game over his junior and senior seasons. "Andre is a physical specimen," said his high school head coach Mike Mischler. "I wish he was maybe an inch taller but he's about 6-2, 230, and he's serious about the weight room. I think he can play anywhere, on offense or defense. A lot of schools are looking at him as a middle backer but some are looking at him for other spots, like fullback or tight end. But I think, for the most part, they're going to recruit him as a backer because he moves so well." Mathis took an official visit to Nebraska on Oct. 15 and an another to Michigan State on Nov. 5. He has since dropped the Huskers from his list and lists the Spartans as leaders. However, he's scheduled to take an official visit to Ohio State on Dec. 3 and to Tennessee on Dec. 12 with Penn State an outside shot for his fifth visit. His ability to play several positions makes Mathis a high-value prospect.

(5) BRANDON LOGAN, 6-1, 210, of Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Ky. A four-star prospect who is rated the nation's No. 30 player at his position, Logan has 4.7 speed and recorded 90 tackles with five caused fumbles as a senior after missing six games his junior campaign due to injury. Logan has good strength with a 285-pound bench press and 375-pound squat, but may be a step slow to play on the perimeter at the next level. He compensates with good quickness, sharp instincts and he hits with authority. Brandon, whose brother, John Logan, plays for Kentucky, visited Knoxville for the Alabama game and plans to schedule an official visit soon. He currently makes Tennessee and Michigan as his leaders with Kentucky, Louisville and Clemson in a second pack.


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