Tennessee is expected to host eight premier prospects over the weekend including three offensive linemen, a pair of defensive tackles, a quarterback, a corner and a safety.
The highest rated on this elite list is Antonio Logan-El of Forestville, Md., who is rated No. 9 among the nation's O-linemen by Scout.com. A soft verbal commitment to Maryland, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Logan-El is a five-star prospect, who recorded 89 tackles and 6.5 sacks playing middle linebacker on defense as a senior. He played tackle on offense and was a dominate drive blocker while allowing only one sack in pass protection. He has visited both Maryland and Oklahoma and has visits set to Florida Jan. 13 and to Virginia on Jan. 20.
Coming in right behind Logan-El as the nation's No. 11 ranked offensive lineman is 6-foot-3, 275-pound Jacques McClendon of Chattanooga Baylor. A standout on both sides of the ball, Big Mac earned all-state honors after recording 60 tackles with five sacks on defense and displaying impressive agility on offense. With 5.1 speed, he could play either side of the ball in college but has the athleticism to get out in front of screens and outside runs. McClendon originally committed to Tennessee last spring but has remained interested in other programs, as underscored by official visits to Alabama and Notre Dame. He also has visits planned for LSU and Auburn although no date has been set. Keeping the U. S. Army All-American and state's top prospect in the Volunteer State is an important step to restoring confidence in the program for Phillip Fulmer & Co, who will push for a firm commitment this weekend.
The third offensive line prospect expected to visit the Vols this weekend comes all the way from Mililani, Hi. Micah Kia, 6-5, 305, 5.41, is ranked No. 28 at his position by Scout.com and considered to be one of the top prospects in Hawaii this year. Kia's stock has been on the rise in recent months and his size, pass protection skills and tenacity have certainly gotten UT's attention. Coach Steve Caldwell paid Kia a visit this week in advance of the linemen's trip to Knoxville. Hawaii native Jonathan Mapu, who is expected to enroll at Tennessee in June, is also said to be involved with selling Kia on UT. He has already visited Oregon State and will visit UCLA next week followed by a trip to Oklahoma on Dec. 23. USC could join that visit list if the Trojans decide to make an offer as his other favorites have done.
In Part 2 of this story, we'll take an in-depth look at UT's other visitors this weekend.