Vols v. Noles for JC DE

During an era in which limited scholarships, general attrition and early entry into the NFL Draft drains depth from Division I rosters at an alarming rate, the signing of Junior College players has become a vital element to a successful recruiting stratagem.

The Vols have done very well with this approach in recent years, particularly with defensive prospects such as Julian Battle, Gibril Wilson, Demetrin Veal, Aubrayo Franklin, Brandon Johnson, Jon Poe, Mondre Dickerson, and Jesse Mahelona, who became starters for UT.

In the Class of 2006, UT netted a couple of prospects from the JC ranks in defensive end Walter Fisher and defensive back Justin Garrett, who could have an early impact this fall.

This year the Vols are again exploring Junior College prospects and are in position to land a difference maker at defensive end. Brian Coulter, 6-5, 255, of Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss., played his high school at Baker High School near Baton Rouge.

As a 15 year-old sophomore, he led the city of Baton Rouge in sacks with 11 to earn second team All-District honors. Academic difficulties derail his junior campaign, but he came back as a senior to record 79 tackles (39 solo) with 14 sacks. His efforts netted him a place on the All-District first team as well as the district's MVP award.

As a freshman, Coulter was named to the Mississippi Junior College all-state team and, with improved academics emerged as a hot prospect, especially among SEC squads which are drooling at the thought of having his size and 4.7 speed coming off the edge.

"Alabama has offered me," he told Greg Swindol of Dawgbite.com when asked about his schools of interest. "Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Louisville, Memphis, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Tennessee, University of (Louisiana) Lafayette, Mississippi State, Arkansas, TCU, Oregon State and Oklahoma State."

While most high-profile prospects are content to have a top ten list at this point in the recruiting process, Coulter can name his top seven — in order of preference.

"I have seven favorites," he said. "I am looking at Tennessee and Florida State because they are coming after me the hardest. Florida State is on top. Tennessee would be number two. Florida's number three. LSU is number four. Auburn is number five. South Carolina is number six and Louisville is number seven."

The competition between FSU and UT is interesting because they are also two of the strong favorites for the services of Alcoa High School defensive end standout Rae Sykes. A split of these pass rushers would be acceptable for UT, but a sweep would be even better, given the Vols lack of depth at defensive end.

"Winning tradition is something I'm looking at," he said. "I will also look at the overall team attitude, and also the strength and conditioning coach. I will look to see how many people they have sent to the NFL who play my position. I am looking at the coach's contract. If they only have one year on their contract, I won't be interested in them."

Tennessee certainly meets his criteria and Vols also offered excellent academic support.

"I like them (Vols) because of their coaching staff," he said. "I have always liked them. I tell this to all the coaching staffs. I want to go to a school where I have (tutors) who will help me in the classroom because I'm not really strong in certain academic areas. Tennessee's coaches said they have that."

The Vols also have a position on the edge with Brian Coulter's name on it.

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