Vols Take Aim at JUCO Star

In the never-ending search for the almost impossible-to-find, combat ready defensive lineman, the Vols are taking a shortcut with a quick courtship of Compton (Calif.) Junior College trench warrior Branden Warner.

Warner is currently committed to UCLA which he visited last week, followed by a trip to Washington last week. He took a official visit to Washington State in November but has since eliminated the Cougars from consideration. He has also turned down offers from Arizona, Florida and Oregon among many others.

His last official visit is set for Tennessee on Friday, and the Vols hope the combination of D-line coach Ed Orgeron and Coordinator Monte Kiffin along with UT's world class facilities and educational opportunities might sway Warner to change his course for SEC.

Getting all that plus the chance to play next fall before 108,000 fans and against the best competition in the country is an appealing package, especially for a prospect who has toiled in virtual obscurity and wants to make the most of his opportunity.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive tackle boasts 4.80 speed, benches over 370 pounds and appears to have all the requisite tools to play on Monday nights. Undoubtedly his chance would be well enhanced by exposure to the advanced coaching talent on The Hill.

Moreover, it would get him a lot closer to home because Warner played his prep football at Ben E. Davis in Atlanta, Ga. He didn't qualify coming out of high school in 2006 and elected to sign with Division-II Tuscalum in Tennessee. He redshirted during the 2006 season and decided he wanted to take a shot at the big-time. That led him to Compton, Calif., where he played two seasons improving his strength and refining his game.

As a freshman in 2007, Warner compiled over 50 tackles, forced two fumbles and recover one, but he didn't rack up any sacks and so he worked to improve his technique, his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and developing his disengaging skills.

He also hit the weight room and pumped himself up. He bench presses 420 pounds, squats 530 and has turned a 4.78 time in the 40. His size, speed and athleticism allowed Warner to play either end or tackle for the Tartars. As a sophomore, he recorded 42 tackles with seven sacks and 13 quarterback hurries.

Warner is back in Georgia now and has taken in-home visits from UCLA and Washington State. Plans call for him to announce near the end of the month with the aim of enrolling at mid-semester. He has two years to play two seasons.

The Vols also have commitment from Rae Sykes, a defensive end from Alcoa who spent the last two years at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. The third JC defensive lineman rushing into the breach is tackle Jonathan Hollins from College of Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif.

Warner, like Hollins, is rated a four-star prospect will share his visit with Ashlon Jeffrey No. 22 wide receiver, No. 19 guard Quinton Washington and No. 26 strong-side linebacker D.T. Shakleford, who is regarded as a soft verbal to the Vols.

With the Vols at full staff and gaining momentum on the recruiting trail the 2009 recruiting campaign could be burgeoning on something big.

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