FEBRUARY SURPRISE

There's a new four-star prospect in Tennessee's short-term future who could fit perfectly into the Vols long-range defensive plans if they can convince him there's no time, or place, like the present.

The fact UT's staff was able to get a visit from Jerrell Harris of Gadsden City, Ala., the nation's No. 3 ranked quick-side linebacker is an achievement in itself. It's something Florida and Florida State couldn't do despite their best efforts. The schools that have received visits include home state favorites and archrivals Auburn vs. Alabama as well as east coast v. west coast contenders Clemson and USC.

How Tennessee factors among these warring factions is hard to say. It hasn't been mentioned prominently with Harris and this visit was arranged late. Either the Vols have been laying in the weeds or Harris is looking for a safe haven from in-state storms which are intensifying with national signing day just four full days away.

If he seeks peace of mind with an open mind Harris might just find a home on The Hill. You can be pretty sure at some point over the long weekend defensive coordinator/linebacker coach John Chavis will sit the 6-foot-3, 215-pound, four-star talent down and show him video tape of Jerod Mayo. It won't take Harris long to spot the similarities between himself the Vol linebacker, who recently opted for a promising career in the NFL.

Read this short scouting report to better appreciate the validity of the Jerrell-Jerod comparison.

"Harris plays the run well, can rush the passer and also excels in pass coverage. He can also put his hand down and get after the quarterback. Harris has good size, speed (4.5) and sees the field well. He plays with discipline and patience and seems to diagnose the play quickly. Harris is tough against the run and sheds blockers with ease. He tackles well. Against the pass he seems comfortable in coverage, showing good vision, and anticipation."

Harris' numbers underscore that he, like Mayo, is a tackling machine with a penchant for big plays and the ability to pressure the passer. As a senior at Gadsden City he amassed 145 tackles (97 solo), 16 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 20 quarterback pressures, four caused fumbles, and three recovered fumbles. He broke up three passes and scored touchdowns on a fumble and an interception return.

The Alabama Mr. Football finalists earned all-state honors and was selected to play in the Under-Armour All-Star game in Orlando which was broadcast on ESPN. He as also named all-state as a junior for his 130 stops, three INTs and two sacks.

Check out Jerrell Harris' senior highlight tape on his player page and it's not difficult to recognize he is much the same type and style of linebacker Mayo is. It's got to be easy for him to see how UT's system would accentuate his athleticism and grant him wide berth for instinctual and aggressive play. Extrapolate that right player for the right system at the right time argument, and Harris just might see a clear path to the NFL from the heights of good ol' rocky top.

Having four former Vols playing on Super Sunday when Harris' visit concludes serves to reinforce that rationale.

Realistically, Harris to Tennessee as heir of the Mayo legacy is a long shot, if not an outright fairy tale. Rationally, if it's a fit, you must commit.

PRIME-TIME PREP: Enrique Davis, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound tailback, from ubiquitous prep power Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., is expected on campus and says he is still wide open. Rated the nation's No. 1 postgraduate prospect by Scout.com, he originally committed to Auburn last summer but reopened the recruiting process last month and has been in full visit mode. He was in Oxford, Miss., on Jan. 18, Oregon on Jan. 25 and now Tennessee. The Vols are in a very good position to come away with an exciting prospect who can become an instant contributor.

OVEREXPOSURE: Tennessee football recruiting was subject of a short mention in the latest (Feb. 11) ESPN: The Magazine (under The Blitz). In a case of balanced journalism it contained something positive as well as something negative. Here it is:

"Last year on Signing Day, blue-chip WR Gerald Jones spurned Oklahoma, among others, for Tennessee. A year later, OU can partiality thank Jones for helping it land No. 15 receiver, Jameel Owens from Muskogee (Okla.) High. On his official visit in Knoxville, Owens was in the backseat when Jones was pulled over and cited for marijuana possession. Owens wasn't charged, but committed to OU four days later... The Vols could get a boost from ex-minor league OF Vince Faison. Back in 1999 Faison signed with Georgia, then decided to pursue pro baseball. Now on campus, the 27-year-old Faison has impressed Tennessee coaches with his raw corner ability."

Just goes to show: baseball giveth and baseball taketh away.


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