Star Search Continues

With 25 prospects committed to its Class of 2007, including three soft verbals, you might figure Tennessee would be in a defensive mode leading up to national signing day. But that's not the case.

Undoubtedly, keeping a commitment is often harder than getting one, but it doesn't mean the Vols will be in a defensive mode down the home stretch. In fact, a couple of defections might even open the door to some of the five-star prospects UT is still involved with.

Already rated No. 3 in's latest rankings of recruiting classes, the Vols would like to strengthen a very strong hand by drawing another ace or two. It probably comes as no surprise the Tennessee will battle bitter rival and recently crowned national champion Florida for several these high profile prospects.

Although winning a national title certainly improves the Gators status, it's not necessarily a disadvantage for the Vols. Many prospects figure the only thing better than signing with the defending national champion is playing for a team that has a chance to beat them every year. And the fact Tennessee lost to Florida by a single point in 2006 makes the Vols an appealing alternative.

Tennessee is pitted against the Gators as well as other premiere programs for the five-star services of defensive end Carlos Dunlap, as well as a couple of four-star prospects from Louisiana in No. 7 wide receiver Ahmad Paige and No. 5 safety Stefoin Francois both of whom played in last Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Paige, who has visited Georgia, Florida and Tennessee has visits remaining to USC and Florida State. He is still officially a soft verbal to the Noles, but more than one well placed insider figures it will come down to Florida and UT.

Francois has January visits set for Tennessee (Jan. 13) and to Florida State (Jan. 26). He has visited Arkansas and LSU and will choose between Florida and Alabama for his final official. The Tigers lead for this homegrown talent, but that is subject to change with a weekend visit to K-Town on tap.

Florida and Tennessee are also among the finalists for such four-star prospects as No. 13 CB Brandon Paul, who is a Lincoln High School teammate of UT commitment Deshaun Barnes. There's also U.S. Army All-American and No. 18 DE Sidell Corley of Mobile, Ala., No. 18 RB Ryan Houston of Matthews, N.C. as well as No. 21 DE Kourtnel Brown of Charlotte, N.C.

Back in the Sunshine State Tennessee is holding off the Gators for three-star DE Rufus Williams of Titusville, but that could change quickly Florida extends a late offer. Both teams have offered three-star athlete Travaris Cadet of Miami. He visits UT next week.

Florida is currently ranked No. 1 by with 22 commitments that average out at four stars each. The Vols' 25 commitments average 3.56 stars apiece. Both teams have four Hot 100 commitments.

The final outcome could be as close as the last season's SEC contest between the Vols and Gators.

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