Update: E.J. and DeAndre

As things currently stand the raging recruiting battle for four-star linebacker E.J. Abrams can be most succinctly described: Tennessee vs. the Carolinas, as in North Carolina, South Carolina, East Carolina, North Carolina State, Clemson and Wake Forest.

Although four of those programs have a home state advantage over the Vols and all are closer to the Thomasville, N.C. native's home distance shouldn't be much of a factor since Knoxville is just 216 miles away, or the same distance as Knoxville to Waverly in middle Tennessee.

Perhaps the Vols can use an apparent disadvantage as a point in their favor since going to college is all about leaving home. At the very least Tennessee will be distinguished as outside the Carolinas.

E.J. Abrams-Ward has done much to distinguish himself in a deep class of outside linebackers. He scored the game-winning two-point conversion on a quarterback draw in a 14-13 upset of Davie County in the season opener. Playing quarterback the 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior ran for 71 yards in 18 carries and hit 6-of-12 passes. He also averaged over 40 yards on four punts.

The versatile athlete split his playing time between quarterback, tight end, fullback and linebacker as a junior, which prevented him from amassing huge numbers, but handling such a wide range of diverse duties says a lot about the caliber prospect he is. Incidentally, Scout.com ranks him as the nation's No. 8 strong side linebacker although he may be the most athletic enforcer.

Scout.com's Jamie Newberg offers this assessment of Abrams-Ward: "First, he has great size and an even better frame. Abrams-Ward should fill out that frame very nicely in a few seasons and be a huge outside ‘backer. Then again, he has the frame to certainly grow into a defensive end and put his hand down. Abrams-Ward shows great ability for the linebacker position. He has very quick reaction time, excellent speed and even better closing speed. When Abrams-Ward finds the ball he gets to the ball in a hurry. He also does a nice job of fighting off blocks. Abrams-Ward is the type of player that plays sideline to sideline and at times can be a big time hitter. He shows great athleticism and also plays quarterback."

Although he has yet to make an official visit Abrams-Ward plans to attend the Tennessee-Georgia contest on Oct. 13 which shapes up as the Vols' biggest game-day recruiting draw.

Another big name that will be attending Tennessee's game against Florida this weekend is the highly renown DeAndre Brown of Ocean Springs, Miss. Rated the nation's No. 3 receiver prospect, Brown is a physical marvel at a half inch shy of 6-foot-7, 222 pounds with 4.52 speed as clocked at the Scout.com Combine in New Orleans. Add a 36-inch vertical leap, a 305-pound bench press, a 465-pound squat and it's easy to see Brown can be an offensive tour de force.

The Vols appeared to have dropped out of contention for the jumbo jet with the wide wingspan back in July but have closed ground in recent weeks and are now listed as a favorite along with Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Mississippi and Southern Miss.

Over the weekend he had this to say about about UT and his recruiting process.

"Tennessee is a school coming on and they are really starting to recruit me hard right now," he told Newberg. "Southern Miss is more of a fall back school for me. They are my back up plan at this time.

"Playing time will be biggest thing for me because I know if I keep doing what I am doing than I will get playing time next season. I also want to pick a school where I know where I would be happy if I didn't play football."

Maybe Brown will see a place for him at Tennessee on Saturday.


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