Catching Up With Top Targets

With the 2006 crop of wide receivers being whittled down faster than a Christmas turkey at a homeless shelter, it is curious Tennessee continues to operate without a receivers coach.

The Vols didn't make the final four cut for No. 2 rated wideout Vidal Hazelton, and No. 7 rated Tim Hawthorne recently announced that he won't take an official visit to Tennessee, although he didn't officially eliminate the Vols.

Hazelton declared USC and Penn State his top two followed by Miami and Virginia Tech. On the plus side, he placed Florida and Georgia in the same slim-and-no chance category he has Tennessee. At least the Vols got a visit from the premiere pass catcher. That should be good enough for fifth place in the Hazelton sweepstakes.

Hawthorne of Homewood, Ala., has visited both Georgia and Auburn and has set visits for South Carolina (Jan. 13), Florida (Jan. 20) and Louisville (Jan. 27).

"Alabama, Tennessee and LSU are still in it," Hawthorne told Scout.com's Andrew Bone today. "I plan to make an unofficial visit to Alabama January 6. My parents haven't been down there. I want them to experience it. We'll go down there and spend the whole day.

"I plan to make an unofficial visit to LSU as well."

You are left to draw your own conclusions about the odds of UT signing Hawthorne based on that statement. Suffice to say: there won't be any top 10 rated receivers signing on to help Tennessee's pass catching cause next fall.

Fortunately for the Vols there is good news and it has nothing to do with my auto insurance rates. Although UT's need for help at wideout are obvious this isn't a deep class for impact receivers, that can make a big splash against top competition as true freshmen, it is a class with four-star receiver talent through the top 30.

And Tennessee appears to be leading for No. 20 Andrey Baskins from Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, N.J., which is the same program that produced former Vol DB Rashad Baker and junior D-lineman Turk McBride.

IT caught up with Baskins to find out how his senior season went and how his official visits are progressing.

"We had a 6-4 record," Baskin said. "I had nine touchdowns and 40 catches for about 600 yards."

As a junior, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound standout, who has 4.6 speed, caught 31 passes for eight touchdowns. However his visits having been going off as well. He was scheduled to visit Syracuse last weekend but weather forced a cancelation of the trip. He hasn't made any other visits and he doesn't have plans to make but one visit.

"I haven't made any visits yet," he said. "I've got one set up in January. I'm going to Tennessee on Jan. 13. Trooper Taylor is recruiting me now. I don't know who the receiver coach is going to be there.

"I like Tennessee because I believe I can play right away there. That's a big thing."

Maybe Baskins will get to meet UT's receiver coach by the time he arrives on campus next month. Then again, maybe he's already met him.


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