Defending State Borders

Although the 2008 class of prospects in Tennessee lacks headliners and falls short of the bumper crop produced in 2007, there is good depth and enough talented prospects left to provide the Volunteers with about half of a solid signing class.

To this point UT's in-state recruiting efforts could be best described as two in the fold, nine not sold and several on hold. The two in the fold are early commitments Aaron Douglas, a four-star tight end from Maryville who is rated No. 13 at his position nationally by Scout.com, and three-star fullback Ben Bartholomew of Nashville MBA.

The few on hold include players Tennessee's staff is evaluating and has not yet offered. That group includes wide receiver DeMario Williams of Columbia, middle linebacker Tenarius Wright of Memphis White Station, offensive lineman Alex Hurst of Arlington and defensive tackle Dontari Poe of Memphis Wooddale. All four of these prospects have been offered by other SEC schools. There are several other D-I prospects in the Volunteer State that UT is monitoring.

Here are capsule summaries and projections of nine other in-state prospects the Vols are known to have offered scholarships:

MARLON WALLS (6-4, 215, 4.55) Marlon is the big fish schools are angling for in the Volunteer State, although he recently transferred from Memphis Wooddale to Olive Branch, Miss., where his mother's job took her. Rated the nation's No. 11 strong-side linebacker by Scout.com, he plans to visit UT this weekend and announce his decision next week between the Vols, Florida and Ole Miss. Walls is a lifelong Tennessee fan, and if his visit goes well odds would seem to favor the Big Orange.

CHRIS JORDAN (6-2, 205, 4.50) of Brentwood Academy is rated the nation's No. 17 running back, but could also play linebacker. He currently favors Alabama and Clemson over Tennessee with Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and South Carolina trailing the leaders.

BARRETT JONES (6-5, 270) of Evangelical Christian School in Cordova, is rated the nation's No. 20 offensive tackle prospect by Scout.com and the top O-lineman in the state. The four-star prospect recently shaved his list of favorites to five - Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Florida and North Carolina. The Vols have made him a priority, but his father is an Alabama grad. Too close to call.

RODRIQUEZ WILKS (6-1, 196, 4.56) of Smyrna is a four-star prospect rated the nation's No. 50 wide receiver by Scout.com. Excellent strength and a big threat after the catch, he is the brother of current UT DB Marcelous Johnson. He has a horde of offers including Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee. The competition is tough and the process will be protracted, but Vols have an excellent chance to land this homegrown talent.

RICKY HOLLOWAY (6-2, 225, 4.60) of Fayette Ware High School in Somerville is rated the nation's No. 27 middle linebacker prospect, although he has the potential to develop into a quality rush linebacker. He's still early in the recruiting process and rates Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Memphis, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee even. The Vols have been increasing their efforts of late.

BRIAN SOMMER (6-1, 195, 4.5) is a three-star wide receiver from small classification football power Alcoa. Also plays defensive back and could help on either side of the ball at the next level. South Carolina appears to be his favorite with Alabama, Colorado, Ole Miss, West Virginia and Tennessee hoping to close ground.

DAVID SPURLOCK (6-5, 295) of Mufreesobro Riverdale is an underrated sleeper with good size and quick feet. He has offers from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Looks to be a toss up, but Bama may hold a slight lead.

DONTA HIGHTOWER (6-2, 245, 4.70) An overlooked defensive end with the size and speed to become an outstanding pass rusher, this Marshall County High School veteran could also play tight end and was a running back as a sophomore. Recorded 98 tackles and forced seven fumbles as a junior. He's certainly no secret to recruiters as he holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and Ole Miss.

MICHAEL McADOO (6-7, 220, 4.80) is a defensive end/tight end prospect from Antioch who has seen his stock soar over the summer. He has offers from Ole Miss, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Too soon to call.


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