Mobile QB Sets UT Visit

Tennessee has moved a step closer to committing Mobile Williamson star signal caller JaMarcus Russell, (6-5, 220, 4.75), but the competition remains heated.

Russell has set his official visit to Knoxville for Jan. 17, between visits to LSU (Jan. 10) and Auburn (Jan. 24). He is also still considering Florida and Florida State, but has yet to schedule a visit to either campus, and isn't sure he will.

Tennessee made an in-home visit with Russell last week, as did LSU, Florida and Florida State. Auburn will made its in-home visit on Monday.

The stakes have always been high for the nation's No. 3 rated quarterback prospect, but they have increased for the Vols with their decision to no longer recruit Chris Leak, rated No. 2.

Leak became North Carolina's all-time leading passer early this season and has pursued several career national passing records. Likewise, Russell finished his high school football career as the No. 1 passer in Alabama high school history, surpassing current Crimson Tide freshman Brodie Croyle's mark with 10,648 yards. As a senior, Russell threw for 3,328 yards and 21 touchdown passes.

Russell has been to a couple of LSU games this season, but the Tigers already have a commitment from the nation's No. 5 QB prospect in Robert Lane. The Tigers also have three other quarterbacks on scholarship. There is more opportunity at Auburn however the Tigers return former Parade All-American Joseph Campbell (6-4, 218) who will be a junior.

Russell attends the same high school in Mobile that produced Tee Martin, but whether that connection is an advantage or disadvantage remains a source of conjecture.

The only other uncommitted signal callers the Vols have extended offers to are: Richard Kolvacheck of San Diego, Calif., and Michael Bush (6-4, 225, 4.5) of Louisville Male. This is the first season Bush has played primarily at quarterback and many feel he is a better prospect at wide receiver or safety.

Other quarterbacks Tennessee continues to recruit but has yet to offer, include: Zack Richardson and Klay Koester of Georgia as well as Cliff Davis on Euproa, Miss. The Vols hope to sign two quarterbacks in the Class of 2003.

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