RECRUITING: Fannin the Fires

For a player without a position, Mario Fannin is attracting a lot of interest among major college football programs.

Falling into that nebulous category known as "athlete" he has the talent to help a team on both sides of the ball and his lack of preference only adds to the enigma for the Lovejoy, Ga., jack of all trades.

The 5-foot-11, 207-pound prospect plays quarterback for Lovejoy High School, but is likely to move to another position in college although he could play signal caller in the right system. Blessed with sub 4.6 speed, a 35-inch vertical jump,excellent quickness and terrific transitional skills, Fannin could play safety, cornerback, wide receiver, running back or even linebacker at the next level.

"I like Florida, Auburn, LSU, and Tennessee the most right now," Fannin told's Scott Kennedy in a recent interview. "All of the schools are recruiting me pretty much as an athlete. Auburn said either running back or quarterback. Others have said defensive back. It doesn't really matter though."

While Fannin might be considered a risk since he would have to learn a new position and develop experience at the collegiate level, he might actually be a bargain for a program like Tennessee that is scholarship strapped this season with limited numbers to offer. Plus the Vols have needs at each position Fannin projects — except quarterback.

A former teammate of Tennessee offensive linemen Anthony Parker and Chris Scott, Fannin listed the Vols as his leader in June, but has since amended that stance and currently has UT listed even with Auburn, LSU and Florida. He also has offers from Georgia, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Ole Miss, Tulane, Georgia Tech, Nebraska and Duke among others.

"I like the fan support and the coaching staff at Tennessee," he said in the interview with Scott. "I'm going to try and get up there for the Tennessee-Georgia game this fall. I'm going to camp at Auburn, and I've always liked them, and now they're coming off of an undefeated season. I might be able to come in and play early there. I liked LSU a lot too for a while, but they kind of fell off when Saban left, so I'm going to keep an eye on how they do this fall. I got to meet Coach Meyer and Coach Drayton at Florida, and I like them a lot."

Auburn's interest in Fannin playing quarterback could give the Tigers an edge. Also the new offensive system at Florida fits well with Fannin's talents for running spread formations and executing run-pass options. Yet playing wide receiver, defensive back or running back could be his quickest route to early playing time, which he considers high among his criteria.

"I'll be looking at early playing time and getting a good education from the school," he said. "I want to get an education and play on a quality team. I also want to go to a place that can get me to the next level."

His surest course to the NFL will not be as a signal caller, but it could be as a Tennessee Vol.

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