Interest in Man Mountain is Climbing

Monte Kiffin is a coaching giant known for preferring quick albeit undersized defenses, but he appears ready to make a super-sized exception if the Vols hold their lead for JUCO colossal James Carmon, who stands an imposing 6-foot-7 and tips the scales at a robust 370 pounds.

As big as he is Carmon was largely ignored coming out of Baltimore City High School last year. He did receive a few offers but not from the SEC. So if the SEC wouldn't come to him he decided to go to the SEC by playing in Mississippi. Now he has grown into a dominating defensive presence who is making a name from himself in Southeastern Conference coaching circles.

"It's great," Carmon told analyst Steve Robertson of the early interest from SEC schools. "I have always wanted to play in the SEC. I think that's the number one conference in the country. They have the best competition every year."

Tennessee was to the first to offer the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product followed by Mississippi State. Those two schools rate as his current co-leaders but he has since picked up offers from Alabama, Ole Miss and Memphis. He is also being recruited by Florida, Auburn and LSU although no offers from those Conference stalwarts are currently on the table.

Carmon follows in the footsteps of Terrence Cody, a JUCO giant who became the anchor in the middle of Alabama's dominating defense. That has piqued the interest of SEC teams looking to add size in the trenches. While Cody is a 3-4 nose tackle by trade, Carmon isn't limited to that role and in fact has played more 4-3 than 3-4.

"I played in a 4-3 in high school, so I know that and the 3-4," said Carmon. "I like being able to take on the double team. I have learned to play both, so I can do either one if I need to."

Carmon's ability to take on and defeat double teams, means he is a match for Kiffin's system which is always looking to exploit a numbers advantage on defense while disguising its pre-snap intentions.

His head football coach and Baltimore City athletic director George Petrides had Carmon two years after he transferred in as a junior, and isn't surprised he has developed into a high-profile prospect.

"He was a nice kid," Petrides told Inside Tennessee. "He's kind of funny. I liked his humor. He's a good kid. He started both years at offensive tackle and defensive tackle."

Carmon was a dominating presence in high school but tended to take plays off and lacked consistency. Still some of his best performances came in the Knights' biggest contests.

"I thought he was as good as he wanted to be," Petrides said. "He could dominate a game offensively. I thought he was better on offense than he was on defense. Tended to be a little lazy. If he had worked a little harder he would have been that much better, as he grows up I'm sure that will happen. But if you pushed the right button and got him angry don't let anybody be in his way. He did a good job when he wanted to."

Motivated by a great opportunity to play college football at its highest level, James Carmon is pushing the intensity meter. And given another season to mature he could be coming into his peak years.

With a tentative December graduation date, Carmon will be able to enroll in January and take part in off-season workouts. He is looking for a close knit team that has family feel and he wants strong academic support as he endeavors to obtain his degree.

"I am not going to wait until after the season to make a decision," said Carmon. "I plan on making my decision sometime before the season starts."

Wherever he goes Carmon's decision will carry a lot of weight.

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