The Oklahoma Kids

It's out of the frying pan and into the fire for Tennessee's remaining football coaches, who go from X's and O's into a yes-no mode, as they take up the Big Orange recruiting banner, prepare for visits and await reinforcements.

There are parallels to these seemingly dissimilar pursuits. For instance: there will be victories and defeats, emotional appeals to young athletes and room for a late recruiting season rally like the Vols' upsurge down the stretch of the 2007 campaign. And just as there was a lot on the line in winning five of its last six games, there will be a lot at stake with the other half of scholarships UT has to offer.

There could also be some awkward encounters like the Vols had in Lexington when they captured a critical triple overtime win in a classic shootout that prominently featured former UT player, assistant coach and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders on the Wildcats' sideline.

One of Oklahoma State's top targets is wide receiver Jameel Owens of Muskogee, Okla. He is also a prospect of deep desire for Tennessee. Owens is being recruited by UT's Steve Caldwell. However he was also recruited by former Vols receivers coach Trooper Taylor who is now co-offensive coordinator for the Cowboys. Even though Taylor won't be State's primary recruiter for Owens, he will be involved by virtue of his position.

Owens is playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Saturday. Tonight he confirmed to Inside Tennessee that he will be in Knoxville next week for his official visit.

"We've been practicing here in San Antonio," Owens said. "I've visited Oklahoma State. Oklahoma and Texas Tech. I'm going to visit Tennessee on the 11th. I'm not sure of my other visit."

The 6-3, 210-pound wideout has 4.45 speed and is the type of legitimate deep threat the Vols are looking for. Owens also has exceptional leaping ability and strong for a player at his position.

The strongest contenders for that final visit are Florida and Missouri. LSU is still recruiting Owens but appears to be fading. He has taken an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge.

Another Oklahoma prospect visiting Tennessee Jan. 11 is Owen's Muskogee teammate Stacey McGee, who is rated the nation's No. 10 defensive tackle prospect. At 6-3, 270 pounds he has the frame and game to become a force in the trenches once he learns to sustain his intensity level and pace. Still he's the type of athletic component the Vols need in the defensive interior. He's exceptionally quick and has 4.9 speed. The Vols can parlay the need factor as an opportunity for early playing time for both Owens and McGee without a lot of difficulty.

"There are three things that set me apart from the rest of the defensive linemen in the country," he told TigerRag.com. "They are my speed, my power, and my mental toughness. I play with a sense of urgency because I know I can't slow down. When I'm on the field I am really good at reading the offense. It is hard to explain, but everything just clicks for me."

McGee is considering most of the same schools as Owens. He has visited Oklahoma and Texas Tech and will visit Florida a week after Tennessee. Oklahoma State, LSU and Nebraska are also on his favorites list.

If the Vols could land this talented Muskogee tandem the 2008 recruiting campaign would suddenly become okie-dokey and on the way to A-Okay.


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