RECRUITING: Dynamic defender likes UT

A ball-hawking cornerback from sunny Florida is looking for a college that offers immediate playing time … and Tennessee just might be where he finds it.

Jacques Rickerson is a 5-10, 180-pound cornerback at Saint Augustine High School who lists four Southeastern Conference schools among the five he is seriously considering.

‘'I really like Florida and the new coach (Urban Meyer),'' he told's Jamie Newberg. ‘'They are changing their defense and will be playing a lot more of man-to-man.''

Auburn is his co-favorite at present. He just returned from the Tigers' camp, where he was defensive MVP.

‘'I like everything about the Tigers,'' Rickerson said. ‘'They have great coaches, facilities, players, and they seem to really want me. They are going to be in it in the end.''

Tennessee and Georgia are a half-step behind the Gators and Tigers but still very much in the running for this dynamic defender who gets a four-star rating from

"Georgia and Tennessee, to me, are in similar situations at cornerback,'' Rickerson told Newberg. ‘'They are both rebuilding at that position, and I like I can get early playing time at both of those schools.''

If Rickerson leaves the South, his likely destination is State College, Pa.

‘'Penn State is a young team with talent and I would love to play for coach (Joe) Paterno,'' he said. ‘'That would be nice.''

Whoever lands Rickerson will be getting a prize. He used his 4.4 speed to register 62 tackles, eight interceptions and two defensive touchdowns as a junior last fall. He also blocked three punts en route to second-team all-state recognition in the talent-rich Sunshine State. A superior all-around athlete, he also averaged 22 points per game in basketball as a junior and qualified for the regional track championships in the long jump as a sophomore.

Although his senior season has yet to begin, Rickerson already is getting a little tired of the recruiting process. He's hoping to set aside the pressure long enough to make the most of his final year of high school ball.

‘'Recruiting is getting pretty old,'' he said. ‘'I just want to take my visits this fall and after the season and the biggest thing I am looking for is playing time. So I will be watching the teams closely.''

Tennessee loses senior cornerback Jason Allen at the conclusion of the 2005 season, while Jonathan Wade will be a senior in 2006. The other three cornerbacks – Roshaun Fellows, Inky Johnson and Antonio Gaines – are sophomores. Another corner, sophomore Jonathan Hefney, has been moved to free safety for the foreseeable future.

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