Vols Back in the Race

With apologies to "Old Blue Eyes", Tennessee has picked itself up and got back in the race for the nation's No. 1 offensive line prospect, Andre Smith of Birmingham Huffman High School.

That is if you can call being one of four schools he is considering for his fifth and final official visit, being back in the race. Yet it is another positive the Vols are gaining some momentum in recruiting and getting good reviews in the process.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Smith had all but eliminated Tennessee from consideration before new offensive line coach Greg Atkiins rekindled the blocking behemoth's interest in the Vols.

"I like Tennessee," Smith told Scout.com's Jamie Newberg in an interview Monday. "I recently met with Coach (Greg) Atkins, their new offensive line coach. He is a great guy and coach (Philip Fulmer) is an OL guy too."

Smith has already visited USC and Miami this month and has officials set for LSU on Jan. 13, followed by a trip Florida State on Jan. 20. He plays in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7, but could fit a visit in for the last weekend in January.

In addition to Tennessee, he is looking at Florida, Auburn and Alabama as options for his fifth visit. Because he has made unofficial visits to both Alabama and Auburn, he might decide to forego those locales without eliminating either school from his list of finalists. Tennessee and Florida aren't so fortunate.

"I don't know where I will go for that final visit," he told Newberg. "I really have the next two weeks off and I will pray about it and reflect on it. It's gonna be hard."

That's still an improvement for the Vols. This time last week it looked like the only way Smith would see Knoxville was by flying over it. Now there's at least a chance he may actually land there.

In other recruiting tidbits:

Louis Holmes, a five-star defensive end from Scottsdale Community College, has committed to Arizona. He had listed Tennessee as one of his four finalist but never visit UT. Holmes visited USC, LSU and Arizona before settling on the Wildcats.

• The Vols have solidified their standing with the state's No. 1 prospect Jacques McClendon of Chattanooga Baylor. McClendon committed to Tennessee last spring, but had made visits to both Notre Dame and Alabama. He recently decided to take no more visits and honor his commitment to UT. He is rated the nation's No. 11 O-line prospect in the nation by Scout.com and will play in the upcoming U.S. Army All American Bowl.


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