Recruiting Season Enters Homestretch

With national signing day just a week away, Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer may feel a little like the host of a game show entitled: Who Wants To Be a Volunteer?

Yes, it's the equivalent of sweeps week in college football and UT is looking for the right combination of prospects to hold down its No. 1 spot in the ratings. The Vols are expected to host several players on this the final visit weekend with No. 1 rated defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger of Dallas, Texas, the headliner.

Always a dark horse in the race for the 6-foot-21/2, 325-pound all-American, Tennessee has remained a finalist for Granger along with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arizona State, and now the Vols have the last chance to make the best impression.

Late visits from high-profile prospects such as Granger don't normally favor the host, but the Vols have had their share of success in recent years and will, no doubt, push the No. 1 class angle just as Oklahoma pushes its return to premiere status under Bob Stoops. Granger made a surprise visit to Oklahoma State last weekend and the Cowboys appear to be players again after the loss of head coach Les Miles to LSU. At least the Vols won't have to compete with a team from Texas for what might be Lone Star State's top gridiron talent.

It looks to be an all-SEC battle for wide receiver Slick Shelley of Fort Smith, Ark. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound, U.S. Army All-American visited Baton Rouge last weekend and the Tigers are the team to beat. The Vols are looking to add a receiver after the disappointing loss of Patrick Turner to USC and Shelley, who is ranked No. 20 by, would represent an excellent recovery.

On the other end of the spectrum Tennessee is also slated to host non-ranked offensive tackle prospect Darius Myers of Cordova. While he isn't highly ranked the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Myers is highly sought, receiving offers from Auburn, Mississippi, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Memphis. Myers reportedly recorded 104 pancakes blocks last fall and was named MVP for Region 7 (Class 5A). He is also rated the sixth best prospect in the Memphis area. Like Michael Oher, who committed to Mississippi last week, Myers runs a five-flat 40 and a 28-inch vertical leap. He bench presses 325 pounds and squats 500. The big man is a listed as a soft verbal to Memphis which means UT has its work cut out to land him.

Tennessee's other top targets are Kenneth Phillips of Coral City High School in Miami and Chris Scott of Lovejoy, Ga. The Vols are locked up in one-on-one battles against teams from the Sunshine State for both prospects. Scott, the nation's No. 9 rated offensive lineman, is expected to choose between UT and Florida. Phillips, the No. 1 rated safety prospect, is down to Tennessee and Miami. Neither player is expected to announce before national signing day, which could complicate the Vols other recruiting interests.

UT may find out this weekend if No. 6 linebacker Eugene Hayes of Madison County, Fla., will choose offers from the Vols or Clemson. However he plans to take a visit to nearby Florida State and has vacillated wildly during the decision-making process by committing to Tennessee one week before taking his official visit to Clemson whereupon he named the Tigers as his favorite. He has since moderated that position but with a week left could still change his mind several more times.

The Vols are still working to change the minds of wide receiver Turner and running back Montario Hardesty, who, respectively, committed to USC and North Carolina last week.

Presumably, coach Fulmer will be asking each player: Is that your final answer?

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