Vols Scanning Nation For Top D-Line Prospect

When you have to replace eight starters in the defensive line over two years you had better beat the bushes from coast-to-coast, from Bangor, Maine, to Baja, California, and points beyond.

Last recruiting season, Tennessee's tentacles reached all the way to the Hawaiian Islands and plucked Parade All-American Jonathan Mapu from paradise. They also landed a pair of in-state products with outstanding potential in LaRon Harris and David Ligon.

The Vols started off their Class of 2003 with a bang by bagging dynamic D-line prospect Jared Hostetter, 6-5, 275, of Lawrence County High School in Louisa, Ky. Now they're hoping to build upon this big beginning and are in hot pursuit some of the nation's premier players.

Tops among these talented trenchmen are Brentwood High School's Steven Jones, 6-51/2, 275. Jones recently attended Tennessee's summer football camp and may have the Vols at the head of his list. However, Jones, whose father Mike played in the NFL, is being sought by so many schools at this point that it might take a while for him to sort through the selection process.

Tennessee will also joined the crowd chasing several big-time D-line prospects in the Midwest which include: Brandon Maupin, 6-5, 260, of West Chester, Oh., Shawn Crable, 6-6, 240, of Massillion, Ohio, and Moe Dampeer a 6-5, 270-pounder from Decatur, Ill.

Closer to home in Elizabethton, Tenn., is linebacker/defensive end Vincent Redd, 6-6, 240, who will probably become a defensive end at the next level. An excellent basketball player, Redd, who is still only 16, could conceivably add as much as 40 pound on his 6-6 frame over the next year. For that matter, he could add a couple of inches to his frame. Tennessee is in a group of early favorites for Redd's services that includes Penn State and Alabama. But that list will probably grow before a verbal commitment is forthcoming.

Another highly-rated prospect with height (to say nothing of a great name) is 6-8, 265, Bordie Overstreet of Danville, Ky. Having already signed Rob Smith of Fort Thomas, Ky., in 2002 and captured Hostetter's verbal commitment, the Vols would like to win the trifecta in the Blue Grass State.

In other parts of the south, UT is in the hunt for big-time defensive end prospects Barry Booker, 6-3, 250, of Amherst, Va., and Joe Cohen, 6-3, 240, of Palm Bay High School in Melbourne, Fla. The Vols might also make a run for Opelika, Ala., defensive lineman Dez Doolittle, 6-3, 260, who comes from the same high school as UT cornerback Corey Larkin.

On the west coast, Tennessee is thought to have serious interest in Matt Malele of Carson, California and the Vols are also looking at Fili Moala, 6-6, 295 of Anaheim.

A couple of prospects that aren't as highly rated at this point that Tennessee is known to have an interest in are Tulsa Washington High School defensive end Chadd Evans, 6-4, 240, with 4.8 speed in the 40. Evans had 84 solo tackles, 40 assists and 10 sacks last season. He is also being recruited by in-state power Oklahoma as well as Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Colorado, UCLA and Arkansas are also seeking Evans' signature.

A tackle with more upside than rep at this point is 6-4, 295, prospect Mansfield Wrotto of Brookwood, Ga. Wrotto, who runs a 5.0, scored a 1000 on his SAT and carries a 3.6 grade-point average. He is said to be considering Georgia, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Clemson, Arkansas and Alabama in addition to the Vols.

Quality defensive linemen are probably the rarest of prospects to find and the most difficult to land. Tennessee is fortunate to have a couple of the top names in-state to go with Hostetter. The race for the nation's best out-of-st D-linemen figures to be a marathon instead of a sprint.

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