DeJuan to DeVols?

Two Chattanooga high school football stars already have committed to Tennessee's 2007 signing class, and an agile cornerback may boost that number to three if the Vols come through with a scholarship offer.

DeJuan Joseph of Howard Academy attended the recent UT Senior Camp and enjoyed himself so much that he's ready to commit. If things work out, he'll join a Big Orange haul that already includes two fellow Chattanoogans – fullback Kevin Cooper (Baylor) and quarterback B.J. Coleman (McCallie). Both committed to UT earlier this year.

Joseph met Cooper at the recent Senior Camp and struck up an immediate friendship.

"We're real good friends now," Joseph said. "We're hoping to go up there (UT) and start something good."

Joseph also met Daryl Vereen, a running back from North Mecklenberg High in North Carolina who committed to UT during the Senior Camp.

"We just clicked," Joseph said. "We had the same mentality about being there – getting exposure. Daryl said they had offered and he was going to commit. I told him I'd like to go to Tennessee, too. That's where I'm wanting to go."

Joseph, a 5-foot-9, 155-pounder with 4.5 speed, probably improved his chances of becoming a Vol with his performance at the Senior Camp.

"I think I did real good," he said. "I think I impressed a whole lot of coaches. I did real well, and I hope they give me an offer real soon."

As a junior at Howard last fall Joseph played receiver and cornerback. He also returned kicks. His defensive stats included 45 tackles, 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles forced. Offensively, he caught just 10 passes but says he converted these into 238 yards and three touchdowns.

"We run the ball a whole lot," he explained of his modest reception total. "But this year they plan to get the ball to me a whole lot."

Although he enjoys receiver, Joseph much prefers cornerback.

"I love to hit people," he said. "I don't want to get hit; I'd rather be hitting on somebody else."

Joseph says he's getting attention from several schools, including LSU, Auburn and Ole Miss of the Southeastern Conference.

"I think LSU is about to offer," he said.

Although he'd love to be a Vol, Joseph said he likes Memphis "a whole lot" and would seriously consider Auburn if Tiger coach Tommy Tuberville comes through with an offer.

Asked to describe himself, Howard answered without hesitation.

"Hands down, a Charles Woodson type," he said, referring to the former Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan who now plays for the NFL's Green Bay Packers. "That's the way I'd describe myself … Charles Woodson."

Joseph is eager for the 2006 season to begin. He has helped Howard improve from 1-9 in 2003 to 4-6 in 2004 to 5-5 last fall. This season should be the best yet.

"We're picked to win the region and go to the state," he said. "All of our players came back, so we're going to be on a roll."

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