Vols Land Big Foot

Tennessee made an important acquisition for the future of its kicking game tonight via a commitment from one of the nation's top kicking prospects — Daniel Lincoln of Forest HIgh School in Ocala, Fla.

Rated No. 4 at his position nationally by Scout.com, you'd be hard pressed to find another kicker/punter anywhere that can match his combination of unique speed, strength, smarts and scoring skills.

At 6-0, 195, with 4.5 speed, a 325-pound bench press, 450-pound squat and 285-pound power clean, Lincoln is a rare physical specimen by any standards. And it should come as no surprise he plays linebacker. His assortment of athletic acumen is augmented by intelligence and academic achievement, as underscored by his 4.6 GPA and 1600 SAT score. Over the last two seasons, he has connected on a combined 16-of-21 field goal attempts, including 5-of-5 this season.

"Our team is 0-7 this year so as you can imagine I haven't gotten too many opportunities," he told Scout.com's Ryan Jordan last week. "But I'm 5 for 5 on field goals and I average 42.5 yards on punts. All my kickoffs have been touchbacks this year."

Lincoln made a career long 49-yard field goal as a junior and has split the uprights from 67 yards several times in practice. He has increased his punting average by 4.2 yards as a senior and is being considered for both roles at Tennessee.

"Most schools are recruiting me as a kicker and a backup punter, except for Tennessee who is recruiting me equally at both," he told Jordan before his visit to Knoxville last week. "Mostly I'm getting recruited at kicker though."

At the Scout.com combine in Miami, Lincoln put all of his kickoffs from the 35 yard-line at least five yards deep into the end zone with a laudable hang time of four seconds plus. He impressed scouts with his combination of field goal distance and accuracy while kicking off grass.

"Extremely powerful leg," the combine report begins. "All kickoffs from the 35 were 5-7 yards deep. Hang times were constantly over 4.0. Good accuracy and incredible leg strength. Gets to the ball quickly. Nice form. Very consistent on everything he does. Professional demeanor, on and off the field."

Given Tennessee's special team troubles this season, and with James Wilhoit a fourth-year junior, UT's staff decided to pull the trigger on a prospect of Lincoln's talent. He was also being recruited by LSU, Florida and Stanford. He had offers from Rice and Memphis in addition to UT.

Lincoln, who was recruited by Phillip Fulmer and Jimmy Ray Stephens said Tennessee fit his criteria for choosing a school to a T.

"They fit the 3 things I want," Lincoln said. "I can get a quality degree in business or law. I can compete at the highest level for a title and thirdly just living there and liking it. I think it's a great environment. It's a premier program.

"I mean how much better can you get? Tennessee has had some great guys come out of there and amazing kickers. I'm looking forward to getting up there and being the next one."

Before his career is concluded, this Lincoln might just emancipate Tennessee's kicking game.

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