Fulmer leads charge to the head of the class

The 2002 signing class will go down in history as one of the best ever. The Vols nabbed several of the nations top players and successfully met many team needs by signing 10 offensive players, 14 defensive players including a couple of players with two-position potential and 1 very special specialist.

Unlike some past signing days, there were fewer surprises. Defensive Lineman, John Henry balked on his verbal commitment in favor of joining a feisty MTSU ball club. Athlete, Ahman Brooks, while not officially giving a verbal, had given strong signals he would be a Vol only to sign with the Virginia Cavaliers instead.

The day had its pleasant surprises as well. Although not entirely unexpected, the Vols acquired the services of Quarterback James Banks, a 5-star athlete from Indianapolis. The Vols landed another uncommitted keeper in state as they inked Ruben Mayes, a bruising 240lb fullback from Memphis.

Oh, and that specialist. Well, James Wilhoit, who happens to be a place kicker and a punter is also considered by many recruiting services to be the #1 kicking prospect in the country. Wilhoit has a career long 58-yard field goal to his credit and launched a mere 80% of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. As a senior, he averaged 43.2 yards per punt.

Four members of this year's signing class are already enrolled at the University of Tennessee and will participate in spring practice. They are: DB/Athlete, Jason Allen an export of Alabama. As well as JUCO signees, Defensive End, Mondre Dickerson of Memphis, Tight End, Leon Pinky of California and DB, Gibril Wilson also of California.

This class, rated as high as 2nd and no lower than 5th by reputable recruiting services is one very special class. Certainly behind the scenes the Vols coaching staff put in many hours and logged countless miles, only to make it seem effortless. Coach Fulmer and his staff are to be commended. Not only did they garner a class hailed by many enthusiasts as "perhaps the best ever", but they also stocked the pond with several big fish letting nary a one escape their skillful cast.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the 2002 signing class.

Jason Allen - Defensive Back / Athlete, 6-2, 200
Muscle Shoals, Alabama (Muscle Shoals)

James Banks - Quarterback, 6-3, 195
Indianapolis, Ind. (Ben Davis HS)

Heath Benedict - Offensive Line, 6-6, 285
Greer, S.C. (The Peddie School [N.J.])

Mondre Dickerson - Defensive End, 6-5, 265
Memphis (Coffeyville Community College)

Cody Douglas - Offensive Line, 6-6, 320
La Marque, Texas (La Marque HS)

Omar Gaither - Linebacker, 6-2, 215
Charlotte, N.C. (Myers Park HS)

Jason Hall - Defensive End, 6-3, 245
Chattanooga, Tenn. (McCallie)

Chris Hannon - Wide Receiver, 6-4, 180
Sarasota, Fla. (Riverview HS)

Parys Haralson - Defensive End/Linebacker, 6-2, 235
Flora, Miss. (Madison Central HS)

Justin Harrell - Defensive Tackle, 6-5, 300
Martin (Westview HS)

LaRon Harris - Defensive Tackle, 6-3, 303
Memphis (Kingsbury HS)

Brandon Jefferies - Offensive Line, 6-5, 275
Shelby, N.C. (Crest HS)

Greg Jones - Defensive Tackle, 6-6, 265
Jonesboro, Ark. (Jonesboro HS)

Aaron Kirkland - Tight End/Defensive End, 6-4, 250
Fayetteville, N.C. (Jack Britt HS)

David Ligon - Defensive End, 6-5, 260
Memphis (Christian Brothers HS)

Jonathan Mapu - Defensive End/Tackle, 6-3, 265
Kahuku, Hawaii (Kahuku HS)

Ruben Mayes - Fullback, 6-2, 240
Memphis (Ridgeway HS)

Marvin Mitchell - Linebacker/Tight End, 6-3, 230
Norfolk, Va. (Lake Taylor HS)

Leon Pinky - Tight End, 6-3, 260
Northridge, California (College of the Canyons)

Gerald Riggs Jr. - Running Back, 5-11, 217
Chattanooga, Tenn. (Red Bank HS)

Rob Smith - Offensive Line, 6-5, 306
Fort Thomas, Ky. (Highlands HS)

Antwan Stewart - Back, 6-0, 180
Dumfries, Va. (Potomac HS)

Jonathan Wade - Wide Receiver, 5-11, 180
Shreveport, La. (Evangel Christian HS)

James Wilhoit - Placekicker/Punter, 6-0, 190
Hendersonville (Hendersonville HS)

Gibril Wilson - Defensive Back, 6-1, 190
San Jose, California (City College of San Francisco)

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