Tracking UT's Linebacker Search

Despite losing two of its three starting linebackers to graduation with two others attempting to return from season-ending injuries, linebacker doesn't appear to be a recruiting priority for Tennessee this season.

Indications are the Vol have backed off Memphis East star Quintin Williams, 6-2, 220, 4.6, who has been offered by Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Memphis according to East High School head coach Wayne Randall.

Reached recently at his home in Memphis, Williams said he hadn't heard much from Tennessee and that he "barely knows" Woody McCorvey, who is recruiting the Memphis area for the Vols.

Williams, who averaged eight tackles and recorded 16 sacks as a junior, attracted a lot of early interest from the Vols, but with limited scholarships to offer they now seem to be reducing their targets at that position.

A source close to the Williams situation, said the Vols are likely to only sign two linebackers. UT is known to be making a strong push for Jackson Central Merry linebacker Daniel Brooks, 6-3, 230, 4.56, who is rated No. 8 at his position nationally. Brooks is thought to favor Tennessee and Alabama over Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Miami. Brooks hasn't set any visits and all the programs have offered except the Tar Heels and Hurricanes.

Ironically, while UT may have decided against one Memphis East linebacker, it is hotly pursuing another. James Griffin, 6-2, 205, 4.4, of Pasadena City College, who graduated from East two years ago, is considering an official visit to Tennessee. However he has already officially visited Oregon (Oct. 19), Virginia Tech (Sept. 1), and Washington (Sept. 8). He is also considering LSU, Oklahoma and Florida State. Tennessee as well as all of its competitors have extended scholarship offers. Griffin apparently favors the three schools he's already visited to the four he hasn't and could settle on either Virginia Tech, Oregon or Washington without taking any other recruiting trips. Griffin is considered the best weak side linebacker prospect in the junior college ranks.

The Vols are also thought to be high on another junior college product, Dorey Brown, (6-2, 225, 4.5) of Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Ga. Brown, who was a teammate of Miami starting linebacker Roger McIntosh at Gaffney High School in South Carolina, is a very physical tackler with excellent instincts. He favors Tennessee and South Carolina over Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Miami. All but the Hurricanes have offered.

The Vols are also in the running for three of the four highest rated linebackers in the nation. No. 1 overall prospect Ernie Sims of North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla., is considering the Vols, although he prefers to play running back in college. Florida State and Miami appear to have the inside track for Sims, but Auburn, Georgia and Florida remain in contention. Both of Sims parents attended FSU on athletic scholarship; his mother in track and field, his father in football. Sims aims to major in veterinarian medicine which improves Auburn1s chances. FSU which doesn't offer that program.

The Vols are considered a long shot for Sims, but are in better position to compete for another Sunshine State superstar -Earl Everett of South Sumter High School in Bushnell, Fla. Everett, 6-3, 210, 4.5, is rated No. 3 at his position nationally and is an outstanding athlete. In addition to linebacker, he has played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and strong safety. He projects as an outside linebacker, but prefers playing safety in college. He recorded 86 tackles with six sacks as a junior.

Everett has visits scheduled to Florida on Jan. 17, and to Miami on Jan. 24. He is also intrigued by Nebraska, which is recruiting him as a quarterback, but hasn't set a visit there. He has tentative plans to visit Tennessee and names the Gators and Canes as his favorites.

The nation's No. 4 linebacker prospect is Prescott Burgess of Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, Ohio. Burgess, (6-4, 218, 4.55), is rated No. 11 overall in the Class of 2003 and is considering Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Notre Dame and Tennessee. He hasn't set any visits yet, but is expected to trip to all the aforementioned schools. Burgess, who could play either outside linebacker or safety in college, doesn't currently list a favorite among his five finalists.

Some of the other linebacker prospects Tennessee is known to have an interest in are Vince Hall (6-1, 238, 4.6) of Chesapeake, Va., Ryan Brown (6-2, 240, 4.6) of Berkley High School in Moncks Corner, S.C. and John Beason (6-1, 210, 4.55) of Hollywood, Fla.

The Vols are listed as a favorite for the services of Will Roach of Brooks High School in Killen, Ala. Roach, (6-2, 200, 4.6) is rated the nation's No. 6 safety prospect, but could be converted into a linebacker in college if not a wide receiver. His brother Freddie, a red-shirt freshman, is Alabama's starting middle linebacker. That means the Crimson Tide will be tough to beat, but there's some question as to how long Bama will hold out a scholarship for Roach since its numbers are very limited.

Editor's Note: A full feature article on Will Roach will be published in the next issue of Rocky Top News.

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