Josh On Rocky Top High

In his crossover hit Rocky Mountain High the late John Denver sang — "He was born in the summer of his 27th year, Comin' home to a place he'd never been before" — well except for the names and a few other changes Josh Nunes can relate to the feeling.

The four-star senior signal caller from Upland, Calif., had a his transformation in the summer of his 17th year recently, call it a Rocky Top high, on his first visit to the same University of Tennessee he committed to on June 24th, sight unseen. At that time he cited UT coaches Dave Clawson and Phillip Fulmer for presenting a convincing case over offers from a plethora of pigskin powers including: UCLA, Cal, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, BYU, Stanford and Arizona State.

Still his decision to commit before a visit to Knoxville was surprising to some, but it doesn't mean he failed to do his homework. Nunes, who has a 4.5 GPA and scored a 1900 on his SAT, didn't consider it the least bit difficult.

"For me it was pretty easy," he told IT before his visit. "I've done a ton of research on Tennessee. I've talked to the Clausens, coming from southern California they had a lot of good insight. I talked to Tee Martin, guys like that and they gave me a lot of insight on playing quarterback there at Tennessee and they didn't have anything but good to say about it."

With all my research as well it allowed me to take a look at Tennessee and get to know more about it along with Coach Clawson as well he had a lot to do with it. Getting to talk to him and Coach Fulmer everything just seemed good. I know I'm, going to get there and love it. I've heard nothing but good things from all the recruits that visited there."

Nunes made that first visit last week arriving in Knoxville on Thursday and leaving on Tuesday. However weather forced a layover and delayed his return to the west coast.

"I tried to leave yesterday actually," he explained, "but that hurricane in Houston came up and we had to come back today."

The Texas downpour didn't dampen Nunes' spirits or remove any of the luster from his maiden voyage to east Tennessee.

"Overall I came in having real high standards after talking to people about what to expect at UT," he stated. "And to tell you the truth the whole thing exceeded my expectations. It was a real pleasant trip."

Nunes, who was accompanied on the trip by his parents and younger brother, anticipates no problems in adjusting to a different climate, culture or lifestyle.

"I really enjoyed talking to the people I met," he said. "Southern hospitality really showed true. I think I could fit in really well." Ranked the nation's No. 16 quarterback prospect, despite only starting one complete season and just playing football only since his sophomore year, Nunes got a good feel for life a QB in the SEC.

"It was incredible being around the coaches and the players," he said. "I got to spend time talking to Coach Clawson a lot and he's always been a great guy. I really hit it off well with him and Coach Fulmer. I like them both and respect them a lot. And for players I got to hang with (Jonathan) Crompton quite a bit during the quarterback meetings and stuff. I really like him. He's a cool guy."

The Nunes family got a private tour of Neyland Stadium, giving everyone a chance to experience the storied edifice in a state of hibernation. However even though it wasn't filled with fans the memories from 87 seasons hang in the air like fog on a Smoky Mountain sunrise.

"I was blown away by the Stadium," Nunes confirmed. "I had heard how big it is but you really don't appreciate it until you're down there on the field, or up in the stands looking down on it. You just really can't imagine what it's like until you get out there and see it. I can't imagine the noise that goes on it there."

Among his many activities Nunes got to spend some time visiting the departments of the majors he's considering.

"I'm not sure yet," he said when asked about his major. "I talked to the arts and sciences department, engineering and then to the business school, too. I got a feel overall and those are the three fields I'm looking at. I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to do."

He is sure his family got a great first impression of UT and are at ease with the distance he'll be playing from home.

"They were really comfortable with Coach Clawson and Coach Fulmer before we visited Knoxville just from talking to them," he said. "But after seeing everything they're real comfortable about my decision to go to Tennessee."

So what was the biggest surprise of his visit to Big Orange Country?

"I was surprised by the facilities compared to the west coast everything there was really state of the art," he said. "I was really blown away by that. They had it going there and it was a really nice sports complex."

From now on when Josh Nunes is touting Tennessee to a prospective college teammate he'll be able to fire straight from the heart.

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