Talent On Ice

Long before the Volunteers wrapped up one of the nation's best 2007 recruiting classes, construction on the Class of 2008 was already well underway with Aaron Douglas, J.T. Floyd, Austin Johnson and Tauren Poole in the Big Orange football fold.

That quartet comprises a level foundation with prospects at four different positions from four different states with a tight end in Aaron Douglas of Maryville, a cornerback in J.T. Floyd of Greenville, S.C., a middle linebacker in Austin Johnson of Hickory, N.C. and a running back in Tauren Poole.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Douglas is the son of former UT offensive lineman David Douglas, who played on Tennessee's 1985 SEC Championship team that finished 9-1-2 and No. 4 nationally. David went on to enjoy a five-year stint in the NFL playing for Cincinnati and New England. Aaron's mother, Kara, was a starting forward on UT's 1987 National Championship team. Aaron plays tight end and defensive end at Maryville and is regarded as one of the state's top prospects for 2008.

The versatile Floyd, 5-11, 175, has played quarterback, receiver, cornerback and safety at J.L. Mann High School, and is often compared to UT starting DB Jonathan Hefney, is from Rock Hill, S.C. Projected as a four-star prospect, Floyd was offered by South Carolina, North Carolina, N.C. State and Vanderbilt before choosing U.T.

Johnson, 6-2, 225, plays in the middle at Hickory High School to prevent offenses from running away from him. He looks to be a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense or an inside backer in a 3-4 alignment.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Poole has prototypical tailback build and toughness. Despite being slowed by a chronic ankle injury as a sophomore he gained 1,350 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry and only fumbled once in 200 rushes.

He turned a short pass into a 45-yard touchdown in a Class-AAA state playoff game against Carrollton that year. He runs a 4.55 forty time, bench presses 320 pounds squats 460 and has a 35-inch vertical leap. Poole earned an 86.15 SPARQ rating at Nike Camp last spring when he was still a sophomore. It was the eighth high rating posted at the combine. Georgia is pursuing Poole with the aim of prying him away from the Vols.

It's still a long way from signing day 2008, but UT has had a high retention rate with early commitments in recent years including such notables as Jason Witten, Jonathan Crompton, Jacques McClendon and Darris Sawtelle.

The Vols are strong contenders for several other high-caliber prospects in the Class of 2008 we'll be featuring in coming days. At the pace Tennessee is currently committing football prospects, the Class of 2008 may be concluded before the 2007 football season even begins.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories