Prospects High for LSU-UT Winner

With Nick Saban gone along with a some 500,000 residents of Louisiana in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, will the state's top football prospects be ready to follow the exodus to neighboring states?

If they do, Tennessee is in prime position to clean up on the defensive side of the ball. The Vols are contenders for such notables as five-star prospect Jai Eugene of Destrehan High School, who is the rated the nation's top cornerback by, and his teammate Chaz Washington, 6-3, 300, who is rated No. 37 at his position.

Other defensive tackles from Louisiana the Vols are pursuing include: Jarred Shaw, 6-4, 310, of Northside High School in Lafayette, La., and D'Anthony Smith, 6-3, 312, of Pickering High School in Leesville, La.

Tennessee also has an interest in Evangel Christian High School safety Dan Kreamer, 6-1, 195, 4.5, of Shreveport, La., as well as Josh Van Buren a 6-0. 182-pound safety with 4.58 speed from Terrebonne High School in Houma, La.

On the offensive side of the ball UT has offered wide receiver Ricky Dixon, of East Saint John High School in Reserve, La., who is a 6-foot-11/2, 203-pound, four-star prospect with 4.65 speed. The Vols also have an interest in Jared Mitchell, a 5-11, 195, wideout with 4.47 speed from Westgate High School in New Iberia.

There are also several highly regarded prospects in storm ravaged Mississippi that both LSU and Tennessee are recruiting. Heading that list is Cordera Eason of Meridian, Miss., who is rated No. 11 at running back by and, who at 6-0, 235, with 4.65 speed may be the top the fullback prospect in the nation.

Closer to home Tennessee and LSU have both offered Memphis Melrose High School running back/defensive back Craig Cooper, 5-10, 183, 4.50. The Tigers are also one of the teams that continue to court UT commitment Jacques McClendon of Chattanooga Baylor. McClendon is rated the nation's No. 10 defensive tackle and there are indications he will take visits with LSU, Alabama, Auburn and USC the most likely locales.

There are a number of other high-profile prospects throughout the south that are looking at both Tennessee and LSU, including: defensive tackles Charles Deas, of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., and Kenrick Ellis of Lake Worth, Fla.; wide receiver Tim Hawthrone of Homewood, Al.; No. 15 tight end Richard Dickson of Ocean Springs, Miss.; No. 25 running back Brandon Minor of Richmond, Va. and No. 18 linebacker of Marcus Sims of Tallahasse, No. 10 linebacker Jarrell Miller of Highland Springs, Va. Fla. and No. 8 linebacker Marcus Ball of Stone Mountain, Ga.

Besides five-stars prospects Eugene and Louis Holmes (see story on today's main page) the biggest national prize that UT and LSU are finalists for No. 1 rated offensive lineman Andre Smith of Birmingham, Ala., and No. 4 safety Jonas Mouton of Los Angeles, Calif.

With a loss to Florida already tarnishing UT's record this season, another defeat to LSU would devastate UT's SEC hopes and seriously damage the Vols recruiting campaign.

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