Vols In Stretch Run

Tennessee may have already caught its limit of prospects, but that's not going to stop the Vols from trying to reel in a couple of other big fish between now and national signing day. Read the latest who's going where and why.

The first order of business for Fulmer & Co. is to keep any of UT's first class catch from jumping back into the recruiting waters. The only of UT's commitments listed by Scout.com as "soft" at this point is Rolando Melancon, a 6-foot-1, 275-pound, four-star defensive tackle from Lutcher, La., who is scheduled to visit Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend.

"I am as solid to Tennessee as I can be though," he told Chris Sherman of Scout.com Thursday. "I don't think just 'cause I am going up to Tuscaloosa they can do that much to change my mind. I don't think I will change my mind. I believe I am a Vol, but who knows. I am just going to see what's up, and take it from there."

To turn Melancon the Tide would have to overcome the work of Trooper "Super Recruiter" Taylor, and a strong bond of loyalty established by the Vols.

"A lot of schools quit recruiting me because of my academics," Melancon said. "They stopped recruiting me and stopped calling me. I have a little bit of work to do on academics, but I am on the right track right now. I am right where I need to be finishing up this quarter. I am taking some correspondent courses. It is right there in my hands. I have a 3.0 this semester. Tennessee is the only school that has stuck with me. I always wanted to be a LSU a Tiger, but they gave up on me. I have a 17 on the ACT right now."

Melancon is one of several UT commitments that could be candidates for prep school or junior college. However like Melancon most are borderline qualifiers that could still fall either way. The Vols have had a lot of success with placing non-qualifiers.

While there are no other soft verbals at this point, there are a few commitments that Tennessee will keep in close contact with rival recruiters on the prowl and UT's coffers brimming with blue chippers.

One four-star defensive gem the Vols don't have to worry about is Chris Walker of Memphis Christian Brothers. Walker was listed a soft verbal by Scout.com last week, but high-placed sources reveal that Walker has actually be very active in helping recruit for his future team. Walker, who is ranked the nation's No. 14 middle linebacker prospect, is also a standout student and fully qualified.

Not all the news is good on the recruiting front, as it appears four-star safety Stefoin Francois of Reserve, La., has canceled his scheduled visit to UT this weekend and will now choose between LSU, FSU and Arkansas. The addition of JUCO safety Nevin McKenzie to the Vols Class of 2007 was believed to be a factor in Francois' decision.

Another Louisiana prospect the Vols will monitor closely is Sterlington High School receiver Ahmad Paige, who is visiting USC this weekend. Paige is expected to announce his choice between the Trojans, Florida and Tennessee on Monday. Like Francois, he is looking for early playing time and the Vols commitment from Darrius Moore earlier this week could play into his decision. Paige is also being recruited by Taylor.

UT is still awaiting a decision from No. 16 wideout Dwight Jones of Burlington, N.C., who is a soft verbal to the Tar Heels but considering Clemson in addition to the Vols.

UT commitment Chris Donald is not expected to make his official visit this weekend because of winter weather. However he is still solid and will sign with the Vols on Wednesday.

Alcoa defensive end Rae Sykes is slated to make his official visit to Tennessee this week. The 6-4, 245-pound pass rusher is listed No. 29 at his position nationally. He is expected to choose between Tennessee and Florida State.

Another defensive end UT remains involved with is Sidell Corley of Mobile, Ala. Corley is ranked No. 16 among defensive ends and is a U.S. Army All-American. He visits LSU this weekend. Originally a Florida commitment, he will choose between LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Finally, there are indications Tennessee remains a legitimate contender for No. 1 ranked defensive tackle Marvin Austin of Washington, D.C. Austin visited longtime favorite Florida State last weekend but did not commit. He is also considering USC and North Carolina. Austin is a friend of redshirt freshman linebacker Rico McCoy and has made several visits to UT's campus.

There would no better way to crown a magnificent recruiting class than to add Marvelous Marvin Austin.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories