Competing for Prizes

Whether the Tennessee Vols win the SEC East Division crown or just compete for it, their current position in the proverbial driver's seat will give them a lot of mileage on the road to national signing day.

Most top prospects are looking for a program that allows them to contend for championships without waiting too long to play. The Vols can make a pretty convincing case for both despite suffering three one-sided defeats. The key is to keep competing in order to earn exposure as a legitimate SEC title contender.

If Tennessee can do that without the benefit of dominate defensive tackles or first rate cover corners UT is likely to attract its fair share of highly regarded prospects for both roles.

That process begins in earnest this weekend with official visits for homecoming festivities from the nation's No. 3 rated defensive tackle, Guy Lawrence, of Las Vegas, Nev., along with up-and-coming corner Prentiss Waggner of Clinton, La., who is ranked No. 45 at his position.

In a class lacking in defensive tackle depth Lawrence is one of the nation's most sought after prospects. He has narrowed his choices to Oklahoma, Arizona State and Tennessee. He witnessed ASU's come-from-behind victory over California last weekend and attended the Sooners' homecoming game against Missouri on Oct. 13.

Now the Vols get the last chance to make a great first impression. Since the quality of opponent isn't sufficient to create that crackle of anticipation that accompanies most football weekends in Knoxville the Vols are banking on the pageantry and tradition that surrounds homecoming. An impressive showing on a glorious fall day in the south will at least give Guy a contrast to what he's seen so far.

He was originally slated to be in Knoxville for the Georgia game but switched that slot with Oklahoma. At 6-foot-6, 275 pounds he could play defensive end but his growth potential — he added 25 pounds and an inch in height — projects better at tackle. As a junior at Western High School, Guy recorded 90 tackles with 11 sacks. Through eight games of his senior campaign he has 72 tackles and 12.5 sacks for Western (7-1) which leads the league. He is exceptionally quick off the ball, has excellent lateral mobility, changes directions well and is adept at disengaging from blocks well.

Guy stated he will make his decision the week after his visit to Tennessee.

Waggner isn't the high-profile prospect Guy is, but he is every bit as intriguing. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, he has good size for a cover corner and outstanding 4.50 speed. He registered an outstanding junior season for Clinton High School, recording 70 tackles, intercepting 16 passes and breaking up 14. He also played wide receiver, catching 31 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. He earned first team Class-2A All-State honors and was named Class-2A Defensive MVP. Waggner added four more INTs through five games as a senior.

Waggner took his first official visit last week to Minnesota and enjoyed his the trip despite the fact the Golden Gophers lost to South Dakota State. He is also being recruited by Auburn, LSU, MIssissippi and North Carolina although he rates Tennessee and Florida as his current favorites. He has a visit to Gainesville planned for Nov. 17.

One of the visitors the Vols had for the South Carolina game was Lavar Edwards, a 6-foot-3, 289-pound tight end rated No. 47 nationally by Scout.com. He played fullback for Desire Street Academy in Baton Rouge last season, gaining 850 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. He was moved to tight end this season and has already equaled his 2006 touchdown total.

As successful as he has been on offense the Vols like his potential at defensive tackle. That shouldn't be a tough transition for a player as athletic as Edwards is.

"He's the one that I think has the most upside of anybody because he can do it all," said Desire Street head coach Mickey Joseph. "I wish he would get a little meaner. He's just such a nice kid. Lavar is a big kid and He's a kid that can play every sport. He plays football. He's a double-double-double in basketball. He throws a shot about 46-47 feet and he's a kid that hits home runs in baseball."

Edwards has been offered by Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma, Florida, MIssissippi and Tennessee.


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