Vereen's a Vol

One of the most impressive prospects at today's Tennessee senior football camp was a muscular young man wearing the number 28 on his orange jersey. He was so fast he made the other guys look slow, so agile he made the other guys look stiff.

I wrote down his number and the comment "fluid" in the margin of my notebook. Convinced the young man was a big-time prospect, I made sure I got his name, telephone number and photograph before leaving the UT campus. In short, I was impressed.

Daryl Vereen must've impressed Tennessee's coaches, as well. They offered him a scholarship today, and he accepted, becoming UT's sixth commitment for the 2007 signing class.

Vereen is a 6-foot, 196-pound running back from Charlotte, N.C. He rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns for North Mecklenburg High School last fall, despite missing three games with a broken hand. He reportedly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds.

Vereen says he also was recruited heavily by North Carolina, North Carolina State and South Carolina. So why did he pick Tennessee?

"I love it," he said. "I talked to some of the players, and they said they really take care of you. And it's only 3½ hours from where I live. My family can see me play, and that was a big consideration."

Today's positive experience at UT's senior camp convinced him to go public with his commitment.

"I felt real welcome there," Vereen said. "The coaches were really nice to me and I had a really good workout."

Indeed, he did. He was especially impressive in the cone drills. His burst, back-pedal and transition in and out of breaks was the best of anyone in the camp. He looked like a natural cornerback but he insists he hasn't played the position in game competition.

"I've never played defense," he said. "I played some corner in practice and in seven-on-sevens but never in a game."

With a big senior year this fall, Vereen could further elevate his status as a prospect. Rather than wait, though, he chose to commit now.

"I didn't think I needed to hold on any longer," he said. "Tennessee is the place for me, and there might not be another school that has the same benefits as Tennessee."

Vereen says he averaged 6.4 yards per carry last fall. He says his running style is built around exploiting his greatest asset.

"I like to use my speed a lot," he said. "I look for the cutback lanes but I will strike you."

The player he most resembles, he believes, is a former Ole Miss standout now with the NFL's New Orleans Saints.

"Probably Deuce McAllister," Vereen said. "He's a speed back, too. He's another one of those high-4.3, low 4.4 guys."


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