Vols Strike Gold In Own Backyard

Barely 40 days after securing the nation's No. 1 rated recruiting class with a high-caliber collection of football prospects from 11 states and the District of Columbia, the Volunteers are making significant progress on the Class of 2006 without leaving their own backyard.

Alcoa High School running back Dustin Lindsey is the latest to join UT's Class of 2006 commitments which is comprised exclusively of east Tennessee prospects. UT's first commitment came from Chattanooga Baylor offensive lineman Jacques McClendon, 6-3, 275, preceding a pledge made by Knoxville Powell tight end Lee Smith, 6-5, 240.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Lindsey is coming off a stellar junior season in which he rushed for 1,748 yards to lead Alcoa to a 14-1 record and the Class-2A state crown. Lindsey finished the 2004 campaign with what is believed to be a record 43 touchdowns. Some sources credit him with tying the mark set by Murfreesboro Riverdale's Ralph King in 2001 while others credit him with surpassing Eddie Moore's mark of 42 set at South Pittsburgh when the former Tennessee linebacker was a running back.

No one disputes Lindsey is a big-time prospect who turned in his best performances in the biggest games last fall. Against Rockwood in the state quarterfinals played at Goddard Field in Alcoa, he picked up 97 yards in 19 carries and scored four touchdowns all in the first half as the Tornadoes rolled to a 35-0 victory.

He followed that outing with a career-best game against David Lipscomb in the semifinals, rushing for 275 yards in 38 carries with a pair of touchdowns. He also added 33 receiving yards to pace Alcoa past the Mustangs, 35-14.

Lindsey had added incentive in that contest after David Lipscomb administered the worst defeat in Alcoa playoff history in 2003 in a 55-6 rout. He also drew inspiration from being snubbed for the Mr. Tennessee running back award. He wasn't bothered so much by not winning but took it a little personal when he wasn't even nominated.

The Tornado tailback took out his frustrations in the state finals against Huntingdon by rallying Alcoa from a 41-26 third-quarter deficit to a rousing 52-41 victory. Lindsey was named Most Valuable Player in the title tilt after rushing for 135 yards, catching passes for another 144 yards, scoring three touchdowns and sacking Huntingdon's quarterback for a safety.

A Tennessee recruiting target since his freshman year, Lindsey projects as a feature back with the athletic ability to help at receiver or on defense. He was also being recruited by Southern Cal, Clemson, North Carolina, Louisville and Vanderbilt among others, but credited his close relationship with UT's coaches as being the tipping point of his early commitment.

This may not be the fastest start to a Tennessee football recruiting campaign, but it has to rate as the most economical.

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