Battle of Memphis

With apologies to the Texas Visitors Bureau, the city of Memphis is like a whole other state.

Situated above the east bank of the Mighty Mississippi on the scenic Chickasaw Bluff, it's a bow-and-arrow shot from Arkansas and a mere footstep from the Magnolia State. It is the largest city in Tennessee but hugs the most southwest point of the state like Bristol occupies the most northeast point.

As a result of its unique locale Memphis has sprawled into all three states and, by way, has for all practical purposes become the largest city in Mississippi and Arkansas as well as Tennessee. Naturally, it is a destination sought out by citizens of that tri-state area for jobs and homes. However by being a port city that became a gateway city which was named for a city in ancient Egypt, it's understandable if Memphis has identity issues.

It gets more complex when it comes to sorting out college allegiances with an ample assortment of fans of UT, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas and even Arkansas State living, working and rooting side by side. Throw the University formerly known as Memphis State into the mix and it becomes as murky as the water on Mud Island.

With that said, there are still plenty of extremely loyal Big Orange fans in Memphis and enough athletic talent in the Bluff City to keep coaches from all the aforementioned colleges coming back. However a quick check of the latest Rand-McNally shows Memphis is contained entirely in the Volunteer State and there's only one University of Tennessee.

Translation: Memphis is part of Tennessee's home turf and the Vols can be expected to vigorously defend it regardless of what proclamations may emanate from the orifice of Ed Orgeron.

Here's a look at some of the Memphis area prospects the Vols can be expected to recruit for the Class of 2008.

DONTARI POE is a 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle from Woodale High School who was named first team All-Region and All Shelby County as a junior. A prospect with great upside, Poe is still only 16 years old and his game is just now catching up with his frame. He currently has offers from the Vols, Mississippi and Auburn and is also being strongly recruited by Alabama, Colorado and Mississippi State.

MARION WALLS at 6-4, 215 pounds with 4.55 speed this Woodale athlete sounds like a wide receiver but is in fact a linebacker capable of covering a wide receiver or putting pressure on the passer. He recorded 13 sacks among his 55 stops as a junior and added 15 catches for five touchdowns on offense. He has scholarship offers from Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Memphis, Minnesota, Mississippi and Ole Miss. Alabama is also expected to offer in what has the makings of a recruiting battle royale.

DEANDRE JONES is a 6-0, 220, outside linebacker from Memphis University School who is drawing a lot of interest and has an offer from Mississippi. As a junior he 68 tackles including 13 for losses with two sacks. He also added four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a recovery. He runs a 4.6 time in the 40 and is working to get that down to a 4.5. Strength is an asset as his 310-pound bench, 440-pound squat and 810-pound dead lift attest. He competes the shot put and discus. He lists Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt as his early favorites. Jones attended UT's Orange and White Game and could return for Senior Camp in June.

BARRETT JONES, 6-6, 270, is from Cordova which qualifies as the Memphis area. Regarded as one of the top offensive line prospects on UT's board, he is very agile and effective in space. Jones missed half of his junior season at Evangle Christian with a torn labrum, but he is fully recovered and it didn't dampen the interest of college coaches. He presently holds offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Miami, North Carolina, UCLA and Tennessee. Clemson and Michigan State also recently came through with written offers. One of the top prizes in the state.

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