Vols in Market for D-tackles

While the news defensive tackle Tony McDaniel will leave Tennessee a year early for the NFL isn't good, the timing, from a recruiting standpoint, couldn't be better.

How better to emphasize a need in the D-line than to have the program abuzz with news that one of your projected starters won't return in 2006 at the same time three of the top 31 defensive tackle prospects in the Class of 2006 are making official visits to Knoxville.

Headlining this talented four-star trio is No. 13 rated Derek Burton, 6-2, 245, 5.00, of Muskogee, Okla. He is joined by No. 21 rated Adam Patterson, 6-3, 255, 4.85, of Columbia, S.C. and No. 31 ranked Aleric Mullins, 6-2, 295, 4.90 of Wendell, N.C.

In addition to Tennessee, Burton is considering Oklahoma, which he visits next weekend, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Tulsa. Patterson, who happens to hail from McDaniel's hometown, is weighing offers from Auburn, MIchigan, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Penn State. Mullins, who helped his stock during December's Carolina Shrine Bowl, is looking at Auburn, Florida. Oklahoma and UT.

The Vols also have visits slated with No. 41 rated Chaz Washington, 6-3, 300, 5.10, of Destrehan, La., next weekend followed by a visit from No. 32 ranked L.T. Walker, 6-3, 308, 5.10, of Wynne, Ark.

Tennessee could be expected to sign two or more defensive tackle prospects with Jesse Mahelona exhausting his eligibility, McDaniel leaving school early and Turk McBride moving to defensive end.

In other recruiting news No. 30 rated running back Brandon Minor reports that he will choose between Michigan and Tennessee.

"I've canceled my visit to Virginia Tech and dropped Miami," Minor told GoBlueWolverine.com's Don Hoekwater. "I'll choose between Michigan and Tennessee, and make my announcement at a press conference at my school next Friday."

Minor, 5-11, 214, 4.5, of Richmond, Va., rushed 480 yards and 10 touchdowns as in an injury shortened senior season at Varina High School after amassing 2,091 and 32 touchdowns in 196 carries as a junior. He is the highest rated running back left on Tennessee's board.

"I like the facilities and coaches at Tennessee," he told IT in a recent interview. "I like the tradition of the football program and the fan support."

Michigan has commitments from two running backs already, including No. 25 Carlos Brown, while the Vols only have a commitment from local talent Dustin Lindsey. The Wolverines have also offered three other RB prospects that are still undecided. Those are factors that appear to favor Tennessee in the battle for Minor's signature.

Stone Mountain Men

The Vols were scheduled to receive visits from Stone Mountain linebackers and LSU commitments Kelvin Sheppard and Perry RIley. However, conflicts caused the visits to be postponed until the Jan. 20 weekend. Also making his visit that same weekend is UT linebacker commitment and Stone Mountain native LaMarcus Thompson of Redan High School.

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