T-Minus 9 Days

It's safe to say Phillip Fulmer could do with a rest from arrests, a break from lawbreaking, a respite from his growing apprehension regarding apprehensions, and so could Tennessee's current recruiting campaign which is in search of momentum for a strong finish, but is bogged down by off-the-field distractions in the form of infractions.

Just when there were good indications the Vols were in position to make some serious strides in recruiting competition another player runs afoul the law, raising concerns about the state of discipline among prospects and parents alike that UT's staff has to address while extolling The Hill's many virtues.

For the third time this month a Tennessee football player was arrested during a visit weekend. The first four Vols charged with violations of the law were true freshmen, but the latest Anthony Parker is a fourth-year junior, All-SEC performer, prominent team leader and anchor of the offensive line.

Even though none of the offenses were felonies when you have a rash of lawlessness like this — especially when you're supposedly putting your best foot forward — it gives the appearance of a program spinning out of control.

Sure you have to evaluate the situation on an individual basis but when you have so many individuals involved in offenses in such a short span of time it could be symptomatic of a deep-rooted problem.

Even if it's anomalous, it is grist for rival recruiters trying to convince impressionable young prospects and highly protective parents to have second thoughts about signing with UT.

Can the problem be overcome?

Undoubtedly it can. However it will be a real test of Fulmer's talents of persuasion and the collective recruiting skills of his newly assembled staff. To a degree it will also be a test of Tennessee's rich football tradition which should shine through gathering clouds of bad news.

Tennessee is locked in one-on-one battles for several high-profile prospects and players with solid potential. The Vols should be able to hold on to the commitment from J.T. Floyd and Herman Lathers, who Scout.com is currently listing as soft verbals.

It is more problematical for Steven Fowlkes, who committed to Tennessee last summer, but visited Arkansas this weekend with Benneker High School teammate Alfred Davis. The 6-foot-1, 300-pound Davis is a defensive linemen with 5.2 speed and good strength. He will work on Fowlkes who says he will choose between Tennessee and Arkansas. Fowlkes is ranked the nation's No. 29 defensive end.

The commitment the Vols picked up this weekend from Marlon Walls will be contested by Ole Miss to the end. He has changed his mind more than once and appears to be very pulled between the SEC schools.

The Vols and Rebels are also battling it out for the services of Baton Rouge, La., offensive lineman Dallas Thomas, who is the No. 35 nationally.

It looks to be between Tennessee and North Carolina for No. 8 strong linebacker A.J. Abrams-Ward. UT and Ohio State are fighting for the services of No. 16 DE Keith Wells, although Wells has added a final visit to Notre Dame this weekend.

Jomarcus Savage No. 34 defensive tackle from Huntsville, Ala., said he will choose between Auburn and Tennessee.

"Right about now it's just Auburn and Tennessee," the 6-3, 265 Savage told Jason Caldwell of Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I can't really give you a percentage right now on which one is which. I still stand on me making my announcement this Wednesday. When I go to school on Monday I have to ask permission and see what time."

Some sources feel the Vols have the inside track on No. 9 Antoine McClain, who visited Auburn last weekend and visits LSU this weekend. He is also considering Clemson.

Off the board is wide receiver A.J. Alexander who committed to Florida State during his visit over the weekend, tight end Lavar Edwards of Baton Rouge, La., who pledged to LSU and offensive lineman Kenneth Page of Columbia, S.C., who committed to Clemson. Lavaunce Askew of Camden, Ark., said he'll choose between Texas Tech, Arkansas and Ole Miss. No. 56 DE Greg Scruggs fell to Louisville on Sunday. MLB Ricky Holloway of Fayette Ware High School in Somerville, committed to Memphis last week.

Cameron Henderson, No. 33 ranked DE of Irondale, Ala., visited UT last weekend and says he is still committed to Auburn although he will visit Oxford, Miss., this weekend. However the Vols are strong contenders for No. 21 defensive end Quinton Coples of Hargrave who visited The Hill over the weekend.


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