UT Aims to Fortify Flanks

Defensive ends are at the top of UT's list of needs this recruiting season and an especially deep class at that position means quality candidates are still available.

A pair of bookend defensive ends will be in Knoxville this weekend as No. 21 ranked Quinton Coples of Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., and No. 33 ranked Cameron Henderson of Shady Valley High School in Irondale, Ala., are scheduled to make official visits.

Last weekend Tennessee hosted visits by No. 16 DE Keith Wells and No. 82 ranked Willie Bohannon. E.J. Abrams-Ward also visited UT last weekend. He is listed as the nation's No. 8 strong-side linebacker, but at 6-5, 215, could easily grown into a defensive end.

On Jan. 8 the Vols were visited by No. 22 ranked Andre Wadley of Hernando, Miss., and have a commitment from No. 29 ranked DE Steven Fowkles. Additionally JC middle linebacker Gerald Williams, 6-4, 240, is expected to make his long-awaited debut in 2008. Although Williams has the speed (4.55) to play linebacker his size will probably place him at defensive end.

Another member of UT's Class of 2008 that could be given a long look at defensive end is Austin Johnson, 6-3, 240, the nation's No. 20 ranked middle linebacker.

In addition to all of the aforementioned the Vols have outstanding offers to No. 48 ranked Michael McAdoo, 7-7, 230 of Antioch, No. 56 Greg Scruggs, 6-5, 225, of Cincinnati, Ohio, No. 126 ranked Dion Foster of Richburg, S.C., and non-ranked Demerius Dareus, 6-5, 245, of Huffman High School in Birmingham, Ala., who is the brother of No. 5 ranked defensive tackle Marcel Dareus.

That's no fewer than a combined dozen DE candidates from the Class of 2008 that the Vols have either offered or committed.

Coples stands as potentially the best of the lot. He was one of the standouts in the trenches at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this month following a solid season for Hargrave. In a contest against Louisburg Junior College he posted eight stops with two sacks.

He also played on special teams where his 4.65 speed and long reach proved valuable. As a junior at Kinston High School in the North Carolina city of the same name, he amassed 110 tackles with three sacks.

Scout.com analysts posted the following evaluation of Coples.

"Playing in a league with very run-oriented offenses, Coples plays in a reactionary defense where his job is to simply contain the line which he does exceptionally well against anything on the outside. Tremendous burst of acceleration and surprising balance for a player of his size, Coples uses his arm length to make many stops. There is a lot of work to do in the areas of playing low with leverage, and getting upfield to get pressure on a QB."

Coples has visited North Carolina, North Carolina State and Florida State. He is considering a visit to Virgina Tech. He has been offered by Florida and Ohio State, but doesn't currently list a leader.

Henderson is an Auburn commitment who is still looking. He is expected to visit Ole Miss next weekend.

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