Monitoring Marvelous Marvin

Expecting to get instant defensive line help from a true freshman in the SEC is an example of optimism gone wild, but there are exceptions to the rule and Marvin Austin is an exceptional prospect.

It's no secret the Washington D.C. D-lineman is a special talent, rated's No. 1 overall prospect. Or that Tennessee is one of his five finalists. However even if the Vols were fortunate enough to land the 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle, it remains a matter of mere conjecture whether he could become a starter next fall.

Parade All-American Lee Otis Burton did it under Johnny Majors back in 1978 when the Vols were in stage one of a massive rebuilding mode. Reggie White did it in 1980, but he is arguably the greatest D-lineman to ever play the game. Still it's reasonable to think Marvelous Marvin could impact the rotation and earn significant playing time wherever he goes.

That destination will take some time to determine. Austin, who visited Tennessee on Nov. 3, and has taken official visits to Illinois and USC, is scheduled to visit Maryland today and Florida State on Jan. 20. He also maintains some interest in both Virginia and Miami.

Undoubtedly, the opportunity for early playing time is excellent at UT. The Vols lost two All-SEC performers in the trenches in Justin Harrell (preseason all conference) and Turk McBride (a first team All-SEC selection).

Additionally, Tennessee has developed a well deserved reputation as one of college football's best producers of trench talent with such notables as John Henderson, Albert Haynesworth, Rashad Moore, Shaun Ellis and Leonard Little currently populating NFL rosters. Austin has been compared to another NFL stalwart, Warren Sapp, for his ability to stop the run and for his nonstop motor.

Austin was the first player chosen this year to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at San Antonio.

"I would love to make it a fun experience, but it is also a stage to showcase your abilities and to prove yourself as a football player," Marvin Austin said. "I would love to be able to make it a fun experience and be pretty laid back and enjoy the week. At the same time, I want to go out there and prove myself as one of the best players in the country. It is a real stepping stone towards college. My friend, Rico McCoy (Tennessee), told me that this is a great game to get ready for college. He said that this will basically be my first college game."

Depending on what McCoy tells his good friend about his experiences at Tennessee, Austin's next college game could be as a Volunteer.

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