Vols Want Bradly Badly

As much as recruiting is about finding and signing the most talented available prospects, it's even more important to locate and appropriate the prospects that best fit your system and program.

The aforementioned fit translates as someone with a readily identifiable role as opposed to the good athlete, who probably played out of position in high school and — in the best case scenario — catches on to new position at a higher level quickly and eventually becomes a star.

Such a prospect is more likely to provide insurance at a couple of positions, some third team depth and maybe contribute on special teams. If this same prospect has intangibles i.e., work ethic, emotional energy, citizenship and unselfishness as well, you've received good bang for the buck.

Conversely, if he can't adjust to playing a reserve role after being a high school star and turns into a malcontent he then becomes a negative with less value than the team walk-ons. A season of discontent can, in turn, lead to frustration and off-the-field episodes. Naturally a starter can also become frustrated and have an episode for a variety of reasons, but that's at the very least a trade off because he contributes on the field.

To this point Tennessee's 2008 recruiting class may lack the athletic wow factor that elevates rankings, but it appears to be rich in prospects that hit as in hit, That is to say: hit the field with enthusiasm, hit the weights with zest, hit the books with conviction and hit opponents with malice. What it lacks in star power it makes up for in will power.

Another prospect that falls into the same category is Bradly Roussel, a middle linebacker out of Redemptorist Senior High School in Baton Rouge. At 5-11, 215 with 4.7 speed there is little chance he would play any position other than MLB for Tennessee. However that's not bad because he fits the profile of players — Al Wilson, Shon Walker, Kevin Simon — that have excelled in that role as Volunteers.

Roussel plays with excellent leverage. An accomplished weight lifter — 335-pound bench press, 455 squat and 285 in the power clean — he also has good quickness and plays with high energy.

As a sophomore he amassed 163 tackles including 15 for losses with six sacks to earn Class-4A all-state honors. Last season he saw a lot of double teams and misdirection but still managed 91 stops 12 for loss, including four sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an INT.

"Bradly's a typical middle linebacker type," Redemptorist head coach Guy Mistretta told Steve Wiltfong of IrishEyes.com. "He's a downhill player, very aggressive, with a great nose for the football. We use him to pressure. He has great instincts."

Scout.com rates Roussel a three-star prospect and ranks him No. 29 at his position. Despite living in Baton Rouge he doesn't yet have an offer from LSU, and the Tigers indicate they might not offer.

"I was hoping to hear more from Florida and LSU but I didn't," he told Scout.com's Sonny Shipp. "LSU coaches said if they offered it wouldn't be until late in my senior year so we're not expecting to hear much from them. Coach Hevesy wanted me to go down to Florida for a camp but I know they've already offered like 15 linebackers so that may be a waste of time."

Tennessee had no reservations about Roussel and look to be in position to pick up a solid player with a ton of intangibles. Kansas State, Tulane and Washington have also extended offers, but didn't show the same faith in his abilities and aren't in the SEC.

"Tennessee is my top choice," he said. "I feel real comfortable with them. I talk to coach Trooper (Taylor) and he's a great guy. I went there for an unofficial visit last year when they played LSU and it was great. They offered in my 10th grade year and they have always wanted me."

Sometimes fit happens.


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