Motor City Man Child

Having already committed Darris Sawtelle, who is rated the top offensive lineman in Michigan, the Vols are now making a strong bid for big Joseph Barksdale, who is rated the state's best defensive line prospect.

Ranked No. 16 at his position nationally by, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Barksdale hails from the Motor City and plays for Cass Technology High School where he earned All-City honors last fall. The four-star prospect recorded 83 tackles including 20 behind the line of scrimmage with eight sacks in 2005.

He also forced five fumbles and recovered a remarkable 10 enemy drops. Given his gift for stripping backs and enveloping loose balls, Barksdale would be a natural fit for legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson's signature call.

Size isn't Barksdale's only attribute. He is an excellent athlete with good quickness, strong hands and 4.9 speed. He's a talented student who has a 3.5 GPA, scored a 22 on his ACT and plans to graduate early and be on a college campus in four months.

"One of my biggest strengths is tenacity, my coach says I have a motor," Barksdale told Allen Wallace of "I always have the first step off the ball and I always come really fast and really hard. I have good instincts to know where the ball is going to be and where the players have gone. There is always room for improvement in these areas, and I have to remember not to let it go to my head. Football is my job — everyday, all day."

Barksdale's blue collar approach has paid solid dividends as his stock has risen steadily in the eyes of analysts. Some still see him as a better offensive lineman at the next level, but Barksdale insists all of his favorites want him on the D-line. If they didn't they wouldn't be under consideration because Joseph Barksdale sees himself as nothing else.

He has received approximately 70 offers and lists LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas and USC as his top schools. He visits Notre Dame this Saturday and is scheduled to visit USC on Nov. 24. The Vols have come on late as a contender and are fighting for one of the five official visits he plans to take this fall.

Last month Barksdale had Texas as his leader, but he decided to expand his search after the Longhorns tried to put the old scholarship squeeze on him.

"Texas told me that they can't hold a scholarship for me," told Sam Webb of "They told me that if I wait, they couldn't guarantee that a spot will still be there for me. So at this point, I don't have a leader anymore. I'm wide open."

Showing his independence as well as the faith he has in his own ability, Barksdale decided to draw out the recruiting process and focus more on his senior season,

"It's going to take a little longer than I initially planned to make my decision," Barksdale said. "My parents said that I should take all five visits if for no other reason than that I deserve to. But it's mainly so I can make the most informed decision."

His group of leaders is still fluid at this point which means there's opportunity for the Vols to make a splash at a position they need help.

"I don't really have a set group of schools or a top-five yet," Barksdale recently told Jeff Baumhower of "Ohio State stands out; USC, Miami, Penn State, Oregon, Tennessee and Florida State. I'm still interested in Texas, but I don't think they'll have a scholarship available when I plan on deciding."

Will UT's loss be UT's gain? Only time, and the Motor City Man Child, will tell.

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