Two Days and Counting

It was that master of malaprop, Yogi Berra, who once said: "The future ain't what it used to be," but after a lost visit weekend at the end of long recruiting season that culminates on Wednesday, Lane Kiffin can relate to the sentiment.

After hosting 12 prospects over the weekend, the Vols didn't get a single public commitment but they did have D.T. Shackelford de-commit because he didn't fit and two other soft verbals, running back David Oku and offensive lineman Aubrey Phillips, have all but announced they feel they fit into the picture at Auburn better than Tennessee.

Ironically both are being recruited for the Tigers by former Vol assistant Trooper Taylor, one of the game's most accomplished pitchmen who closed some big names in his three seasons on The Hill. It should also be noted that didn't Auburn replaced Tommy Tuberville as head coach a couple of weeks after UT and yet the Tigers have 25 commitments and are currently ranked No. 15 nationally and have two five-star prospects committed. The Vols are still waiting to land their first five-star talent.

The Vols would like to cut into the total and are pursuing defensive tackle Terrance Coleman and linebacker Johnny Evans, both of whom visited over the weekend. The most immediate problem for Tennessee is recovering offensive talent. If JeRon Stokes does commit to UT the Vols will have 14 commitments. If, on the other hand, he follows the crowd the Vols will only have only five offensive prospects committed and two of those are linemen. Not the type of octane boost the Vols ailing offense needs.

Oddly even linebacker Robert Nelson, of Stone Mountain, Ga., who stated prior to his visit that he would commit to Tennessee left without a making that anticipated commitment. Whether he was offered is still a matter of conjecture.

Then the Vols saw tight end prospect Zaccheus Mason, Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, who visited UT two weeks ago commit to Ole MIss. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Mason runs a 4.7 and is ranked No. 13 nationally.

Not all the news was bad however as No. 5 ranked offensive tackle Marcus Hall, of Glenville had a good visit and indicates it's a three-team race with the Vols joining favored Ohio State and Miami as finalists.

Tennessee also made a good impression on No. 3 tight end Orson Charles who plans to visit USC next week before announcing his decision in late February or early March. Likewise Oku stated he will not announce on signing day but rather a week or two after. Finally Morgan Moses, offensive lineman from Richmond, Va., said his decision will come after signing day passes. He is also considering Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

That could leave UT playing the waiting game as Kiffin hopes to put the wraps on his first Tennessee recruiting campaign, before diving into spring practice and the installation of a the third offensive system the Vols have had in as many years.

With Oku in question, the Vols could decide to offer Eddie Lacy, 6-0, 205, 4.44 of Geismar, La. Ranked No. 24 nationally and a four-star prospect, Lacy visited UT this weekend after visiting Alabama last weekend. He has yet to qualify but a number of high-profile schools have monitored his situation.

The Vols also hosted the state's No. 1 prospect in Marlon Brown, No. 7 defensive end Sam Montgomery, No. 13 offensive tackle Brandon Moore, and No. 24 wide receiver Kendall Kelly. No. 6 wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson visited but remained committed to Florida.

Of course at this point there's no advantage in announcing a decision in advance of national signing day, especially with most of prospect Tennessee is pursuing are from out-of-state. There could well be commitments UT doesn't want to make public.

Other prospects that have visited Tennessee this month but have yet to announce a decision include: Pete While (OL), Greg King (LB) Pearlie Graves (DT), Jamar Hornsby (S), Marsalis Teague (WR), Darren Myles (S) and Ashlon Jeffrey (WR).

KIffin may not get all that he wants, but he might just find he get he needs.


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