Over the years, indeed through decades, Tennessee hasn't been the team to beat when it came to recruiting the Bluff City. No doubt the Vols have signed some outstanding talent over the years out of Memphis, but they've met with more failure than success. Even when Phillip Fulmer was hitting it out of the park with astonishing regularity on the recruiting trail, he was a mere mortal in Memphis.
In 2009 the Vols signed Melrose linebacker Greg King but missed out on Marlon Brown, Austin Long and Aubrey Phillips, who played his first three seasons at Memphis Briarcrest Christian before transferring just across the border to Olive Branch (Miss.) High School.
The list of highly sought players to bypass opportunities at the University of Tennessee is as long as it is impressive. In recent years players such as Michael Oher, Dewayne Robertson, Craig Cooper along with Marlon Brown and his game of renown turned down offers from Tennessee for Ole MIss, Kentucky, Miami and Georgia respectively.
The Vols received good production from Memphis natives Dan Williams and Ellix Wilson but other Memphis prospects that signed with Tennessee — such as Malcom Rawls, Todd Cox, Darrius Myers and Mondre Dickerson — either never made it to UT or didn't finish there.
The challenge for 2010 appears to be daunting once again and it begins with Justin Maclin, a four-star linebacker from Ridgeway who is ranked No. 11 among the nation's outside linebacker crop by Scout.com. Maclin moved from tight end to linebacker as a junior and posted a breakout season with 92 total tackles with 19 sacks and two defensive touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defender bench presses 335 pounds and owns a 35-inch vertical jump. He reportedly carries a 3.0 GPA and scored a 17 on his ACT which he plans to take again.
Other prospects the Vols are interested in from the Memphis area include: No. 7 ranked offensive guard O.C. Brown. The Vols are also interested in Mitchell Road offensive tackle tandem Veronricvco Jenkins, 6-6, 265, and Rodregus Scruggs, 6-5, 280.
The challenges Lane Kiffin & Co. face in establishing Tennessee as a recruiting force in Memphis are great, but then so are the rewards.