Vols High on Lowe

Given Tennessee's tradition of success in recruiting beyond its borders and Texas' reputation for producing more high-caliber, high school football prospects than any other state in the Union, it just seems natural the Vols would draw well from the Lone Star State.

Toss in the courageous contributions of Tennesseans such as Davy Crockett and Sam Houston during Texas' fight for independence and the mere sight of the fringed buckskins, long rifle and coonskin caps that adorn the image on UT's logo should illicit an instant identification. Then there's the connection through native Texan Robert R. Neyland who qualifies as the father of Tennessee football. However it doesn't appear all this historical commonality has translated to the type of inroads into the vast Texas blue chip reserves they want.

Not that the Vols haven't signed some good players from Texas over the years but overall the results have been mixed at best. The highest rated position prospect Tennessee signed from Texas was five-star cornerback Willie Miles from Fort Worth. He lettered four years for UT but only started as a fifth year senior. Other high-ranked Texas prospects who had short stays on The Hill are center Greg Barnum, who left after his freshman season, and quarterback Brandon Stewart who transferred to Texas A&M after losing the QB race to fellow freshman Peyton Manning in 1994. Fleet wideout Courtney Epps lettered in 1994 before leaving school.

Among the notable successes are offensive lineman Cody Douglas of LaMarque and high school All-American punter David Leverton of Midland. Last year the Vols added No. 9 running back Lennon Creer and wide receiver Darnius Moore both of whom distinguished themselves as freshmen.

Still Tennessee is a long way from becoming a major factor on the Texas recruiting scene. In fact the Vols have had twice as many players from Pennsylvania that have lettered than players from Texas, while border state schools like Oklahoma, LSU, Arkansas and Oklahoma State pull heavily from the Long Star State.

Although it's too early to declare a trend it does appear Tennessee is making a concerted effort to become more of a player in the Texas talent market.

A prospect the Vols recently offered is offensive lineman Stavion Lowe of Brownwood, who is ranked the nation's No. 12 offensive guard by Scout.com and a top 300 talent. The 6-foot-5, 298-pound O-lineman runs a 5.2 time in the 40 and has a 27-inch vertical leap. He bench presses 345 pounds and squats 485.

Lowe has seen his offers keep pace with his rising stock. His last two offers were from Oklahoma and Tennessee. He is expecting offers from Alabama and Florida. He has offers from Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and has expressed a strong interest in playing for an SEC team. He also has an interest as well as offers from Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

With his size, strength and agility, Lowe could also play offensive tackle, as he does for Brownwood High where he earned All-District 16-4A honors as a junior. The Vols expect to get a visit from Lowe sometime this summer and hope to contend into the fall for this four-star talent. Lowe reports a 2.6 GPA and took the ACT for the first time in April.


In the same state but on the other side of the line is defensive tackle Calvin Howell, 6-4, 295, 4.87, of Marshall High School in San Antonio.

The Vols may have gotten in a little late but they made a good early impression and appear to have made Howell's A-list along with Texas, LSU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He has at least 27 offers currently and is receiving an average of three new offers each week about 40 to 50 letters.

Howell, who bench presses an imposing 410 pounds, plans to take some visits this fall and wants to decide before his senior season is completed. He is looking for strong football tradition and an opportunity to play early — two areas the Vols can compete with any school.

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