Sack Master to Visit Vols

After months of spinning its wheels Tennessee's recruiting bandwagon appears to be gaining some traction just in time for the holiday season.

The latest positive indicator of the Vols reversal of fortune comes with word the nation's No. 3 rated defensive end, Deantwan Whitehead, of West End High School in Birmingham, Ala., has set a visit to Knoxville for Jan. 21.

He has already visited Louisville and Clemson, and is scheduled to visit Auburn the weekend before touring UT. He is also looking at Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia, but hasn't set up any other visits. He has taken an unofficial visit to Alabama and doesn't feel like he needs to return for a formal visit.

It's interesting to note that Whitehead managed to blindside the state's gridiron giants, as both Alabama and Auburn were slow to recognize his depth of talent. Whitehead missed much of his junior season with a knee injury, but came back with a vengance in a sensational senior season that has set scouts on their ears.

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Whitehead's nickname — "Peanuts" — belies his size, and there's nothing small about his game either. The five-star prospect recorded 125 tackles with 25 sacks and 17 other stops behind the line of scrimmage during his senior season. Sporting impressive 4.7 speed, the prolific Peanut is explosive off the ball, wreaks havoc from the edge of space and can destroy the timing of the most disciplined offense.

That type of production with prototypical size, speed and skills attracts coaches like straving coyotes to pork chops. Tennessee picked up the scent a little late but has made up a lot of ground.

"Coach [John] Chavis came to the school earlier this week," Whitehead told's Andrew Bone. "Alabama was coming to the school today [Wednesday]. I don't know if they came or not. I was a little late getting to school. Alabama came last week though. Coach Cheese [Charlie Harbison], and coach [Paul] Randolph visited with me for a while. I am expecting visits from Florida and Arkansas soon."

At this point UT would seem a longshot to land the rapidly rising Whitehead, but merely getting a visit shows the Vols are in recovery and building the momentum needed for a strong finish to the recruiting season.

In Other UT Recruiting News:

• Wendell, N.C. defensive tackle Aleric Mullins, who was scheduled to visit Tennessee this weekend, has decided to take the rest of the year off from recruiting in order to concentrate on academics. He is now expected to visit UT on Jan. 13. Mullins is rated the nation's No. 31 prospect at his position by

• Tuscaloosa quarterback prospect Chris Smelley has set Dec. 11 to announce his decision on a school. Tennessee just recently made an offer to the 6-2, 205-pound QB, but he decided against a visit. Smelley, who is rated No. 27 at his position by Scout, is expected to select either Louisville, South Carolina or Mississippi. He received a visit this week from Gamecock head coach Steve Spurrier and is currently visiting Louisville.

Maurice Evans, the nation's No. 5 defensive end, dropped UT from his list of favorites on Wednesday. The Middle Village, NY., gridiron product is expected to choose between Penn State and Virginia.

• Tennessee will get a visit from offensive line prospect Scott Krehbiel, 6-7, 272, 5.0, of Pratt, Kansas, next weekend. Krehbiel, who has a 31-inch vertical and is a quality basketball player, has excellent agility and all around athleticism. He is also considering Arkansas (Jan. 21), Colorado State and Kansas.

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