InVOLved in Key Battles

Tennessee's biggest visit weekend of the 2006 recruiting campaign had its high moments, but it may be next month before the returns are in and we can see just just how successful it was.

As reported earlier, the Vols got commitments from wide receiver Quintin Hancock of St. Augustine, Fla., and kicker/punter Chad Cunningham of Dawsonville, Ga.

Hancock was also a standout defensive back who picked off nine passes combined his junior and senior seasons. Cunningham hit 9-of-11 field goals and 60 of 65 PATs as a junior. He averaged 45 yards per punt as a senior. In addition to his kicking duties, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Cunningham played quarterback for Dawson County High School throwing for over 1,000 yards and accounting for 13 touchdowns on the ground and through the air.

Cunningham committed to Purdue in November, but switch his allegiance to Tennessee after taking an official visit to Knoxville. He also had offers from Louisville, Air Force, Maryland and Troy.

Otherwise the early returns from the weekend were mixed. Wide receiver Duke Calhoun of Raleigh Egypt High School in Memphis indicates he had a good visit but indicated to Scout.com's Yancey Porter that Ole Miss may have an advantage over Memphis and Tennessee.

"I liked all of them, but I would have to say Ole Miss," he said when asked where he fit in best. "Me and Michael Oher are both from Memphis, and that is my boy. Coach Orgeron is also real outgoing. He is nice, and I just feel good around him."

Ole Miss QB commitment Nick Stephens, of Lewisville, Texas, was also in Knoxville and appeared to be impressed. He came away still committed to the Rebels but the outcome seems less certain than before for the nation's No. 11 rated QB.

"Yea, I am still committed, but I would say that it is not a 100 percent anymore," he told Porter. "I am looking around a little more seriously now that Michigan is in the picture. They are coming by on Tuesday, and we are suppose to set up an official visit."

The Vols also gained ground with defensive lineman Vic Thomas of Olive Branch, Miss., who is rated No. 57 at defensive end by Scout.com. He now lists Tennessee as his leader along with Mississippi State which he plans to visit next weekend. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Thomas who runs a reported 4.92, will apparently cancel a scheduled visit to Florida next week. He also has offers from Louisville, Mississippi, Arkansas and LSU.

Offensive lineman Bryant Browning, 6-3, 328, of Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, was also in Knoxville and reported having a good visit, but says it's still a four-team race between Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan State and Northwestern. The Vols are also recruiting quarterback Arvell Nelson and cornerback Ray Small from Glenville High School.

Wide receiver Chris Mitchell made it to Knoxville but is not expected back in his hometown of Marrero, La., until Monday night. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds Mitchell has 4.45 speed.

Another Ole Miss commitment, linebacker Derrick Odom of Jackson, Miss., didn't make it to Knoxville and hasn't scheduled another visit at this point.

"I was supposed to go up but I couldn't get away," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to try to visit in the next two weeks or not."

Offensive lineman Scott Krehbiel, 6-7, 280, 5.0, of Pratt, Kansas, is another prospect scheduled to visit UT who couldn't make it.

Efforts are ongoing to contact Ramone Johnson, Aleric Mullins, Adam Patterson, Cody Pope, Derek Burton and Jerry Brown. However Monday's holiday has resulted in some prospects extending their stays or making unofficial stops before returning home.


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