Ro Turns Down Tide

With national signing day looming large on the horizon, it appears Tennessee's No. 3 ranked recruiting class will be defection free.

The Vols withstood the final visit weekend without any losses among its 29 committed prospects. Rolando Melancon, a four-star defensive tackle from Lutcher, La., made his official visit to Alabama as expected, but he didn't have a change of heart about his decision to sign with Tennessee as was feared.

That's not to say Rolando Melancon didn't have a good visit or that he wasn't impressed with the Crimson Tide's new coaching staff.

"It went real good," he told's Chris Sherman. "I had a lot of fun hanging out with the players and of course meeting coach Saban. Coach Saban is a real cool and calm guy. He is about as good as it gets. He doesn't let anything get in his way."

Melancon was also impressed with Bama's facilities and academic support system.

"They are real nice--first class in everything," he said. "Their academic center and everything is all real neat and state of the art,"

As favorable as Melancon's visit was, it doesn't appear he will be spending the next four years in Tuscaloosa.

"It was a nice visit and all, but I don't think I will be changing my commitment from Tennessee," he said. "All of the other schools kind of backed out on me because of my grades, but Tennessee never did. They have been there for me. They have a family atmosphere, and I would like to be a part of that."

The 6-foot-1, 275-pound Melancon is ranked No. 23 at his position by He plays with great leverage and has excellent quickness as well as 4.85 speed in the 40. He bench presses 315 pounds, squats 460, power clean 270 and has a 30-inch vertical leap. The tackle, who has been compared to Warren Sapp for his nonstop motor and disruptive play, runs an impressive 4.55 shuttle time.

He amassed 198 tackles combined as a sophomore and junior, including 48 behind the line of scrimmage with 15 sacks and 12 forced fumbles, despite missing portions of each season with a broken fibula. Melancon came back strong as a senior recording 97 tackles, 28 tackles for losses, five sacks, six fumble recoveries and three interceptions while facing an array of double team blocks, traps and misdirections designed to control his impact on defense. He led Lutcher to the Class-3A state title and won MVP honors for his play in the championship showdown, recording eight tackles, three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

The key to his success is his ability to get off the ball and into the backfield. Additionally, his acute instincts are augmented by an in-depth knowledge of the game.

"His explosive first step makes him so tough to block," said Lutcher head coach Tim Detillier. "He really moves well laterally and that allows him to make plays all over the field. On the football field, Ro gets it. He understands the game. He has made all of the calls and alignments on defense since he was a freshman."

Melancon chose Tennessee over offers from an LSU, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Ole Miss and, of course, Alabama.

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