Vols Vie for Nation's No. 2 DT

It's still early in what figures to be a long process, and the field is crowded with high-profile contenders, but Tennessee is officially entered in the Gerald McCoy sweepstakes.

The prize: a 6-foot-5, 285-pound, defensive tackle who is a titanic force in the trenches and a quarterback's worst nightmare. Rated the No. 2 prospect at his position in nation by Scout.com, McCoy is explosive off the ball, relentless in pursuit and a bona fide wrecking ball in enemy backfields.

As a junior at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City, Okla., the five-star phenom recorded 85 tackles with a sensational 20 sacks. He created a trio of fumbles, pounced on three loose balls and intercepted a pass which he promptly returned for a 49-yard touchdown.

"When he is playing at his best, he is the best there is," said Southeast head football coach Michael Branch. "He isn't as quick as Tommie Harris, but he has great quickness off the ball, and he probably is even stronger. He has a great work ethic, and really pushes his teammates hard to play at the same intensity."

McCoy runs a five-flat time in the 40, bench presses 360 pounds and squats an eye-popping 705. He carries a reported 3.5 GPA and is fully qualified. Ranked No. 18 overall in the Class of 2006 by Scout, he is at the top of college recruiting hit lists from coast-to-coast. Nine schools appear to stand out at this point, but which five will gain an official visit?

"That will be Miami, USC, Notre Dame, LSU and Tennessee," he told James Hale of OU Insider. "I have been to OU so much that I know everything about them, so I am not going to take an official visit there. I have hung around with players, talked to coaches, seen them practice, been to games and seen the facilities."

McCoy is also looking at Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech. He has not designated a favorite, and doesn't appear to be any hurry to do so. When asked by Hale what he was looking for from a college, McCoy said: "Playing time is important to me and how the coaches treat the players. I want to play for a coach that cares about his players and who always wants the best for his players. The facilities are also important to me, and the campus environment."

With that set of criteria and an official visit already on tap for this fall, Tennessee would appear to be a serious contender. The Vols lose both starting defensive tackles, Coach Phillip Fulmer is well known as a players' coach, his staff has remarkable stability and Tennessee's facilities are second to none.

With 2005 U.S. Army All-American linebacker Rico McCoy already on campus and No. 2 rated running back LeSean McCoy another UT target, if the Vols could add Gerald McCoy they might just complete the Real McCoy of recruiting trifectas.

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