Walls Falls to Vols

Two weeks after visiting Knoxville and standing by his commitment to Ole Miss, Marlon Walls, a linebacker from Olive Branch, Miss., has undergone a change of heart and is now pledged to Tennessee.

Rated No. 14 among the nation's strong-side linebacker prospects, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Walls addresses a major need for UT whether he stays a linebacker or moves to defensive end. He was offered by Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Louisville and Michigan State among others, but his decision came down to the Rebs and Vols.

Walls grew up in Memphis and played most of his high school ball at Wooddale High School before transferring across the border to Olive Branch where his mother's job was located. As a junior at Wooddale he had 53 stops with 13 sacks. On offense he caught 15 passes with five touchdowns.

During his senior season at Olive Branch, Walls played primarily on defense, recording 128 tackles with 10 sacks, 32 hurries and seven forced fumbles. The Desoto County sack record was 13. A versatile athlete he runs an impressive 4.55 time in the 40 and competes in track as a 400-meter runner.

"I've always loved the Tennessee Vols since I was young," he told IT in an earlier interview. "It's always been my dream college anyway. I talk to Phillip Fulmer a lot. We've got a good relationship going. He's not guaranteeing me a starting position. He's saying I can come down there and work for it. That's the way I like it anyway, being able to work for it. So yeah, we're cool."

Walls is the 12th commitment in Tennessee's Class of 2008, although three of those are listed as soft verbals. The Vols are expected to sign up to 23 propsects next month.

For a team trailing its SEC brethren in a recruiting season that has dwindled down to 12 days, every visit weekend is important, but you might not know that from reviewing the Vols list of prospective visitors expected in Knoxville this weekend.

Among the six or seven prospects expected on campus is J.T. Floyd of Greenville, S.C., the nation's No. 74 ranked safety and a soft verbal to the Vols since the fall of 2006, No. 140 ranked wide receiver Charles Reeves of Stone Mountain, Ga., Casey Kelly of Sarasota, Fla., a three-star quarterback who is more likely to opt for a lucrative baseball career than college football, and defensive end Cameron Henderson, of Irondale, Ala., who is an Auburn soft verbal with a late yearning to see other schools. He is scheduled to be at Ole Miss on Feb. 2.

The most intriguing prospect visiting the Vols is Quinton Coples, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound defensive end from North Carolina, who played last season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. Rated the nation's No. 21 defensive end prospect. He recorded 110 tackles with three sacks as a junior playing in as run oriented league. A standout in the trenches at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this month, he is a four-star prospect with good strength (300-pound bench press) and eye-popping 4.65 speed.


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