A Sneak Peek at ‘09

Legendary football coach George Allen, a human dynamo, indomitable spirit, master strategist and motivator of men, had a preference for using grizzled gridiron veterans who often seemed near or past their expiration dates for productivity.

Allen traded draft choices for well-seasoned players at an alarming rate and always led the League in average age per player, prompting a media type to once ask him,' what about the future coach?' Allen's response perfectly captured his personality, philosophy and immediately found a place in popular culture as he confidently declared: "The future is now."

That's also an accurate description of college football recruiting. Here we are still in 2007, with the Class of 2008 entering the home stretch before national signing day, and most schools have enough offers extended to junior prospects to fill out a 2009 signing class.

That's the nature of the beast as you never really get to know one class before you start breaking down the next. With that qualifier in mind, we dare take a sneak peek at some 2009 prospects Tennessee is known to be interested in signing 14 months from now.

MATT BARKLEY, QB, 6-3, 219, of Santa Ana, Calif., projects as one of the top prizes in the Class of 2009. The first freshman to ever start at quarterback for national gridiron power Mater Dei High School. As a rookie he connected on 126-of-220 for 1,685 yards and 10 touchdowns. He earned first-team All-State honors as a sophomore, throwing for 1,349 yards and 11 TDs. He was a finalist for state sophomore of the year and was named Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's Offensive MVP. He has offers from USC, California, Florida, Nebraska, Stanford, Tennessee and UCLA among many others.

CHRIS BONDS, DE, 6-3, 250, of Columbia, S.C., has been on a lot of radar screens since he broke on the scene as a raw but athletic rookie, the first freshman, in fact, to ever start in the defensive line at Richland Northeast High School. He compiled 55 stops with 10 sacks and seven fumble recoveries that first season and hasn't looked back. Over the last two years Bonds, who runs a 4.80, has refined his technique to become a force on the edge. The early contenders include: Florida, Georgia, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee and USC. All have offered except the Trojans.

A.J. McCARRON, QB, 6-31/2, 180, of Mobile, Ala., passed for over 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four INTs as a sophomore for St. Paul Episcopal. This lean signal caller has an accurate arm and quick feet, but he won't outrun many linebackers with 5.06 speed. His game will be as a pocket passer with the vision to find open receivers and the ability to make all the throws. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska and Tennessee have all offered.

XAVIER NIXON, OT, 6-6, 285, Fayetteville, N.C., will be one of the most sought after offensive linemen in the country. In fact the Jack Britt High School star already has offers from Clemson, Florida, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame and Tennessee in his back pocket. Blessed with long arms, quick feet and excellent hand placement he is as adept at blocking in space as he flattening an opponent at the line of scrimmage. Has a nasty streak that, along with his physical skills, should help him become a dominate blocker at the next level. Has a 3.2 GPA and is one of the top five O-linemen in the Class of 2009.

RONNIE WINGO, RB, 6-2, 205, of St. Louis, Mo., has sub 4.5 speed and go with his outstanding size. Through the first six games of his junior campaign Wingo rushed the ball 109 times for 843 yards (7.7 yard per carry average) and eight touchdowns. Has to potential to be a topflight DB as well as a productive running back. Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Florida comprise his early favorites list.

DESMOND SCOTT, RB, 5-9, 179, of Durham, N.C. plays for Hillside High School which has produced an uncommon number of D-I prospects in recent years. As a freshman he gained 492 yards and scored 12 touchdowns on just 60 touches rushing and receiving. As a sophomore he compiled 1,265 yards rushing for 15 TDs and caught 17 passes for 252 yards and two scores. He was offered by Tennessee in June after attending camp at UT. His other early favorites — Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina. N.C. State and South Carolina— have all offered. At a Scout.com combine he turned in a 4.47 time in the 40, recorded a 34-inch vertical, a fantastic 4.0 time in the 20-yard shuttle and 23 reps of 185 pounds on the bench. Scott has a 3.75 GPA and is considered one of the top 50 prospects in the Southeast.

PATRICK LEWIS, 6-1, 290, of East Saint John High School in Reserve, La. The Vols Trooper Taylor discovered Lewis while recruiting his All-American DB teammate Stefoin Francois. He brought film back to Coach Fulmer who immediately place a call to his high school head coach and extended his first scholarship offer. Although his size isn't ideal for an O-linemen he has 5.22 speed and could fit into a guard slot for UT which has had success with shorter offensive linemen over the years i.e., Harry Galbreath and Bubba Miller. Lewis was a first team Class 5A All-State selection. By the way, the Vols have also offered junior fullback prospect Alex Singleton, 5-1, 216, 4.6, from the same high school.

PETE WHITE, OG, 6-4, 330, of Washington, D.C., attends the same high school St. John College that produced Rico McCoy. This behemoth is a standout in the classroom as well as a student of the game. A dominating drive blocker who has started since his freshman season. Tennessee and Maryland have both offered and have the early advantage. However Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Penn State, Colorado, Ohio State, Duke, Stanford and Boston College are all in hot pursuit.

RAYNARD RANDOLPH, OL, 6-3, 295, of Brandywine, Md., plays for Gwynn Park High School and gets a ringing endorsement from his head coach Danny Hayes. "He could definitely play on either side of the ball whether it is offensive guard or nose tackle and is one of the smartest linemen I have ever had at Gwynn Park. He's quick off the ball, has good speed and is just a very instinctual player. Run blocking really comes natural to him, but he loves to pass protect which you don't find in a lot of lineman. Raynard is very coachable, he picks things up quickly and he isn't afraid to ask questions. It's like having another coach on the field because he knows what all 11 players are supposed to be doing and those are some of the reasons he was the only sophomore captain I have ever had." Tennessee has offered as well as Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Michigan, Penn State and Virginia Tech are all vitally interested.

Coach Allen had it right. The future really is now.

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