Four More of Great Eight

With only eight or so football scholarships to offer and six months left in the 2009 recruiting campaign, the torrid pace Tennessee has set to this point figures to slow to a crawl as the law of natural selection takes precedence.

On Monday we identified the first half of our eight top targets for the Vols remaining 2009 scholarships. The first four chosen include the state's No. 1 ranked prospect Marlon Brown, who is also the only five-star talent in Tennessee.

The next three slots all went to prospects for the front seven on defense with big JUCO defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and high school stalwart run-stopper Arthur Jeffery of Sarasota, Fla. The fourth player selected was Maryland linebacker Jelani Jenkins, another five-star talent who is ranked the nation's No. 2 Will LB in the nation by Scout.com.

The Vols have already met most of their needs on the offensive side of the ball, but they still contend for some high-profile prospects at every position except quarterback.

Now without further ado or qualification here is the complete list of UT's Great Eight.

1) Marlon Brown needs no introduction on any web site this shade of orange. The five-star talent carries the Volunteer State's banner as top prospect and is the first five-star wide receiver the state has produced since Patrick Turner in 2005. Of course, Turner signed with USC and is playing his senior season this fall. The Vols can't afford to let another big-play wideout escape the state, although they have an excellent four-star wideout pledged in JeRon Stokes of Philly, Pa. Brown may only be marginally better than Stokes due to his combination of small forward size and sprinter's speed, but status and statehood make Brown a true centerpiece to UT's Class of ‘09.

(2) Akiem Hicks a 6-foot-6, 295-pound, JUCO defensive tackle from Sacramento, Calif. would factor into the playing picture in the trenches from the day he walks on campus. Can slide down to nose guard giving him added value in flex fronts.

(3) Arthur Jeffery of Booker High School in Sarasota, Fla., has popped up on UT's most wanted list. At 6-4, 285, Jeffery augments his 4.9 speed with athleticism, quickness and excellent leverage. As a junior he had 74 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, five blocked kicks, and four caused fumbles. He also started on the O-line.

(4) Jelani Jenkins, 6-1, 200, of Wheaton, Md., is a prototypical Will linebacker with stunning speed and electric talent. Put him on the edge and he'll make every QB in the SEC a little bit edgy. The two-way starter and five-star prospect is rated No. 2 nationally at his position and is the highest ranked defensive prospect the Vols are currently contending for. As a junior he recorded 60 tackles, four sacks, an INT, a forced fumble and two recoveries. On offense he rushed for 791 yards and 16 touchdowns. And he is a 4.0 student.

(5) Darius Winston, 6-1, 180, 4.3, of West Helena, Ark., is rated a five-star talent and ranked the nation's No. 4 corner in the country by Scout.com, this is an impact player of the first order. He could move into most college starting lineups as a true freshman with his ability to close ground, change directions and play press coverage. Add his agility and acrobatic body control and he's a wide receivers worst headache. An exciting return specialist Winston can hit a crease like greased lightning and is a perpetual threat to go the distance. True, the secondary is UT's strength but you can never have enough players of this magnitude.

(6) David Oku, 5-10, 190, 4.5, is the second offensive player to make IT's great eight, and for good reason. Ranked No. 6 among the nation's running back crop, he is perhaps the best cutback ball carriers in the Class of 2009. May lack the size to become a dominate feature back but has the capability to go the distance anytime he touches the football. Oku rushed for 1,628 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior in 182 carries, He bench presses 290, squats 540 and boasts a 32-inch vertical. Is a former teammate of current UT wideout/scatback Gerald Jones. The Vols aren't suffering any shortage of good running backs but Oku could be the big-play artist they've been seeking since Travis Stephens set the school record in 2001. (7) Chris Bonds, 6-4, 275, 4.8, isn't likely to come in and play right away in the SEC, but he's a strong candidate to start three seasons and to become a dominate end or tackle on defense. Scout.com rates Bonds a four-star talent and he is ranked No. 17 at defensive end. Plays at Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, S.C. Agile off the edge, Bonds has a 34-inch vertical and an aggressive mindset. His versatility and potential would make Bonds the perfect pickup for UT's 2009 signing class.

(8) Logan Thomas, 6-6, 215, 4.60, of Lynchburg, Va., is the ranked the nation's No. 3 tight end but he probably projects as the nation's best H-back given his size, agility, speed, athleticism and skills set. He played quarterback for Brookville High School as a junior, throwing for 1150 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for another 600 yards and eight touchdowns. He played receiver as a sophomore with equally impressive results, including 54 receptions for 900 yards eight TDs. The Vols have a good group of tight ends but they often use two at the same time and they've never had a player as well suited to play H-back, tight end and wide receiver as Thomas. He could become a mega star in O.C. Dave Clawson's offense.


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