Eye of the Tigers

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer may lose a prized football signee because he has caught the eye of the Tigers ... specifically, the Detroit Tigers.

According to Tuesday's editions of The Detroit Free Press, Tiger brass are seriously considering selecting Casey Kelly with their first-round pick, No. 21 overall, in Thursday's amateur baseball draft. Kelly, a quarterback/shortstop prospect from Sarasota (Fla.) High School who signed with UT in February, reportedly worked out for Detroit officials last Saturday in Lakeland.

Although he starred as a pitcher in high school - 11-0 record and 0.24 ERA as a junior - Kelly has made clear that he wants to be a position player in pro baseball. With this in mind, the Tigers reportedly put him through only hitting and fielding drills on Saturday.

The Free Press cited two anonymous scouting directors as saying Detroit is very interested in drafting Kelly, even though a large signing bonus may be required to pry him away from UT, where he plans to play football and baseball.

Ironically, Scout.com's quarterback prospect ratings for 2008 had Kelly listed No. 21 – the very spot where Detroit picks in the baseball draft.

The 6-4, 195-pounder passed for 4,212 yards and 37 touchdowns during his prep career, despite missing the final four games of his senior season due to injury. He completed 128 of 223 passes for 1,807 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.

NCAA rules would allow Kelly to play pro baseball in the summer and college football in the fall – a la former Michigan quarterback Drew Henson – but the UT signee reportedly has no desire to do so.

Bottom line: If the Tigers take Kelly with pick No. 21 and throw a bunch of money at him, Tennessee is likely to lose the only quarterback in its 2008 signing class.

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