Vols Score in Sunshine State

Because one thing leads to another in recruiting, the recent commitment of safety/linebacker Deshaun Barnes of Lincoln County High School in Tallahassee, Fla., might greatly enhance Tennessee's chances of also signing his cornerback teammate Brandon Paul.

Rated the nation's No. 12 corner prospect by Scout.com, Paul could provide immediate help next fall at a position of glaring need. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds and 4.4 speed in the 40, Paul is an exceptional athlete who comes from one of the most respected high school football programs in the Sunshine State.

Of course, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Barnes is enough of a prize without any type of package bonus. Last season, Barnes earned all-district honors as an outside linebacker for Lincoln, finishing with 46 tackles, two sacks, two picks and one defensive touchdown. He had six stops in the first two games this fall.

"Deshaun has all the tools," said Lincoln recruiting coordinator/assistant coach Tony Collins. "He plays outside linebacker for us but he might play safety in college. Either way, he just knows how to make plays."

Barnes said he's fine playing either position and already has something of a hybrid role for Lincoln. That could make him a good fit for Tennessee given the manner in which the Vols use their strong safety. However UT plans to play him at linebacker. Barnes has a 3.0 GPA and is awaiting the results of his SAT and ACT exams.

A versatile athlete who runs a 4.57 time in the 40, Barnes competes in track for Lincoln.

"He's a great athlete." Collins said. "He's a 6-4 high jumper and he's on our 4-by-4 team."

He was also high on the list of a lot of impressive college programs. Barnes had approximately 30 offers and chose Tennessee over offers from hometown Florida State, Auburn, LSU, Louisville and UCLA.

He is UT's 13th commitment in the Class of 2007, counting Brent Vinson a wide receiver from Hampton, Va., who was signed in the Class of 2006 and placed at Hargrave Military Academy after he failed to qualify.

The usual list of suspects are chasing Paul, including Miami, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Texas, Miami, USC and Tennessee. As a junior was productive on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 586 yards and eight touchdowns, had 583 receiving yards with six TDs, and amassed 564 return yards with three touchdowns. On defense he recorded 21 tackles (one for a loss) with six pass breakups and two interceptions. He bench presses 275 pounds, squats 405 and boasts a 38-inch vertical jump.

Paul is the defending district champion in both the 100 and 200 meters with times of 11.20 and 22.15, respectively. He wants to run track as well as play football in college and the quality of a school's track program will factor heavily into his decision.

"They say I'm very speedy," Paul told Grant Alexander of TigerRag. "Speed is my number one quality. I have quick feet and good hips. They said they really haven't seen anyone with natural speed like me. They want to convert my track speed into football speed."

That's a conversion for which Tennessee has a rich tradition of achievement.


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