Drayton's key recruit

Stan Drayton's first recruiting pitch for the Tennessee football team may be the most important one he makes all year.

Drayton, who joined the Vol staff as running backs coach on Tuesday, spent considerable time Wednesday trying to "re-recruit" Arian Foster. The 6-1, 225-pound junior rushed for 1,193 yards last season but is strongly considering a jump to the NFL rather than returning for his senior season as a Vol next fall.

"I had some great conversations with Arian and his family," said Drayton, who was running backs coach at Florida prior to joining the UT staff.

The NFL Advisory Committee told Foster he projects to be a second-round pick in the next draft if he chooses to leave college early.

"He got a decent response from the draft committee," Drayton said. "But we talked about what his long-term goals are … what he wants to do as a football player in general."

After describing running back as a "prima donna position," the newest Vol aide said Foster surprised him by saying he's a "team guy" and that his goal is simply that "I want to win a championship."

Still, Drayton appealed to Foster's ego by pointing out that the SEC's two premier running backs of 2007 – Arkansas juniors Darren McFadden and Felix Jones – are leaving for the NFL.

"I said, ‘They're gone. So who's the next guy?'" Drayton recalled.

When Foster replied that he didn't know, Drayton applied the clincher: "I said, ‘You are the next guy. You could be the next guy that could be the premier back of the SEC, where you can improve yourself to a situation in next year's draft where you can be a first-rounder.'

"I said that really believing that."

While Foster was mulling the prospect of being the SEC's premier back in 2008, Drayton continued his sales pitch.

"I told him, ‘Hey, if you're all about becoming a student of the game … all about being the best you can be – attacking your weaknesses and making them your strengths – then you come back and you work on those things.

"He said he heard me. He said he was listening to me."

The key, of course, is this: Will Foster heed what he heard?

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