Vols Bag Big Prize

Most years the bulk of the state's football prospects are in west Tennessee, however last year they were in east Tennessee and this year the lion's share of D-I quality talent is in the middle of the Volunteer State. UT made a big splash into that prospect pool today when 6-foot-5, 315-pound Preston Bailey committed to the Vols.

The Nashville MBA offensive lineman joins high school teammate Ben Bartholomew, a fullback/linebacker, as a Tennessee commitment. Bailey is ranked the nation's No. 29 offensive line prospect by Scout.com. He can play any of the five line spots, and is a standout student.

Bailey received offers from Vanderbilt, Miami, South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Middle Tennessee among others. In the end he picked UT over an offer from Michigan.

"I decided it was best to go ahead and commit now instead of prolonging it," he told Scout.com's Andrew Bone. "I originally was leaning toward Tennessee after I took a visit there in January. I went there with both of my parents. They felt comfortable and welcomed. It's a family atmosphere, and my parents felt it. The other visits I took I never got that feeling."

Bailey also liked the feeling he got at Tennessee on game day.

"Knoxville is a town centered around the college," he told Bone. "A lot of things in the town are built for a college student. I went to one game last year. It was the Tennessee-Florida game, and there is nothing like being in the stadium with 107,000 screaming fans. You can tell the love and support of Tennessee."

The offer from Michigan, which came after a visit he took to Ann Arbor earlier this month, was tempting but the chance to play for a school he grew up following was too good to pass up.

"I think I am done with all my visits," he said. "When I sat down and made my decision I knew it was final. I know for sure Tennessee is the place I want to go. I won't take any other visits."

With Bartholomew and Bailey in the fold, Tennessee recruiters will turn their attention to several other mid-state prizes. Chief among these is No. 22 ranked defensive end prospect Dont'a Hightower of Lewisburg. At 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, he runs a 4.7 and is being sought as a potential H-back by the Vols. Hightower's stock has taken a sharp rise in recent weeks and he has a favorite's list that includes Auburn, Alabama, Vandy, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

Other mid-state prospects being pursued by the Vols are:

• CHRIS JORDAN, 6-2, 208, a four-star prospect ranked No. 23 among the nation's running backs. Linebacker may be his best position in college, but with 4.5 speed he is fast enough to play in the backfield. He has visits planned for Clemson and Alabama, which are rated as his co-leaders at this point. He is also considering Tennessee ahead of Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina.

• MICHAEL McADOO, a sleeping giant from Antioch who checks in at 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, and runs a 4.80. Good quickness and leaping ability allow him to star on the hardwood as well as the gridiron. He had 13 sacks and four knockdowns as a junior and appears poised for a breakout campaign. He has offers from Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Tennessee among others. Excellent upside.

• DAVID SPURLOCK, 6-5, 290, of Murfreesboro Riverdale High School, is another solid prospect in what looks like the year of the big lineman in Tennessee. He has offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Tennessee which comprise his favorites list.

• RODRIGUEZ WILKS, 6-1, 195, of Smyrna, is ranked the nation's No. 62 wide receiver and after landing in the top 50 in earlier Scout.com rankings with a four-star rating. The half-brother of Vol starting cornerback Marcelous Johnson he had a standout junior season in which he caught 60 passes for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns. He added another three TDs on INT returns. Exceptionally strong with 4.53 speed, he has soft hands and makes the tough catch. Wilks lists Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee as his favorites. He has offers from all of those schools.

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