RECRUITING: Vols chase stud 'backer

One of the South's premier linebacker prospects is giving the University of Tennessee football program a close look.

Kevin Alexander, a 6-3, 215-pounder with 4.6 speed, recorded 100 tackles en route to first-team all-state recognition as a junior last fall in talent-rich Florida. He also registered four sacks for Union County High of Lake Butler.

''I've gotten offers from Auburn, Tennessee, N.C. State, Clemson, Temple, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Maryland, Kansas State, and Alabama,'' Alexander recently told Scott Kennedy of ''My top six right now are Auburn, Kansas State, Maryland, Tennessee, N.C. State, and North Carolina.''

The Vols have four senior linebackers on their 2005 roster -- Kevin Simon, Jason Mitchell, Omar Gaither and Jon Poe -- so Alexander knows he'll have a great shot at earning immediate time if he signs with the Big Orange.

Another positive: Tennessee enjoyed great success recruiting in Florida last year as Trooper Taylor helped reel in receiver Ulysses Alexander and safety Demetrice Morley (Miami), defensive lineman Vladimir Richard (Sunrise) and defensive lineman Gerald Williams (Lauderdale Lakes).

A possible negative: The arrival of new University of Florida head man Urban Meyer could make it tougher for the Vols to pull players out of the Sunshine State. Regardless, here's what Alexander had to say about each of his favorites:

- ''Auburn is the SEC Champion, and they send a lot of players to the NFL.''

- ''Kansas State was the first school to offer me.''

- ''Maryland is an up and coming program.''

- ''Tennessee has a great fan following, and they also send a lot of players to the NFL.''

- ''I like the defensive scheme at N.C. State. They do a lot of blitzing with their linebackers.''

- ''I like North Carolina, because they are recruiting me the hardest right now.''

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