UT Seeks DB Daily Double

Being a good cover corner is like being a good outlaw: You need a fast horse, a quick draw, a lot of daring, a little larceny and a great partner.

Perhaps that's why it's no coincidence the nation's best pair of cornerback prospects are located just a punt, pass and kick from Boot Hill cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas.

In fact, if the Vols do a good sales job in Knoxville this weekend, it has a reasonable chance of landing both of these dazzling DBs, thus solving its cornerback needs for the next two seasons.

Among the official visitors to UT's campus this weekend will be Dodge City Community College corner Donald DeFrand (6-2, 180, 4.25), who teamed with fellow corner Reynaldo Hill (6-2, 190, 4.28) in 2001 to anchor the nation's top-rated junior college pass defense.

In 2002, DeFrand was forced to redshirt because of conference rules that limit the number of out-of-state starters that can be used by a team. Forced to go it alone, Hill led the nation with 22 pass breakups, picked off a pair of passes and returned two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns.

DeFrand and Hill are currently slated to graduate from Dodge City CC in May and will ply their trade for one of the nation's top football powers. Hill has already visited Tennessee and will visit Florida this weekend when DeFrand is in Knoxville. Hill is expected to choose between Tennessee and Florida while DeFrand will sign with either Tennessee or Nebraska.

"He's leaning to Nebraska, but he'll be at Tennessee this weekend," said Dodge City assistant head coach Andy Siegal who recruited both corners from high schools in South Florida. "He's going to take a look at them (the Vols).

"Donald played his first year and redshirted this year. He's a three-for-three guy that gets out in May. Reynaldo started both years for us. We're limited in how many out-of-state kids we can start so we redshirted Donald this year."

The redshirt decision gives DeFrand three years to play play three seasons of NCAA football while Hill will have two years to play two. However the dynamic DBs appear to be headed in different directions, unless the Vols are able to persuade the pair to reunite in Knoxville next fall.

The extra season of eligibility makes DeFrand the better pick up at this point, but there's very little else to separate these standouts, according to their coach.

"Donald is probably a micro-step faster than Reynaldo," said Siegal. "Donald ran a 4.25 and Reynaldo ran a 4.28 when we timed them on our track So they're both consistent sub 4.4 guys on grass. They're both national qualifiers in the 100 and 200 and the four-by-100. We're talking world class speed."

Hill is 10 pounds heavier while DeFrand is a shade stronger in the bench press and each is superb in man coverage where their combination of size and speed is difficult to defeat.

"They're tall cover corners," said Siegal. "I think they're prototypical NFL corners. They've got that big size everybody is looking for. It's hard to throw over a 6-2 corner and they can both jump. They can run and the thing is, unlike most cover corners, those two will turnaround and knock you in the mouth if they get a chance. They're very physical."

Hill, who visited Tennessee in November, lifts about 300 pounds in the bench press while DeFrand lifts about 310. Those totals are certainly respectable for corners but each has room for improvement.

"They're not going to set the world on fire in the weight room," Siegal said. "They don't look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or bench press 400 pounds."

With DeFrand lined up on the opposite side in 2001, Hill was third in the nation in interceptions with six. This year he was tested less often, but the Conquistadors still finished fourth nationally in pass defense in a 6-4 season.

Another quality Hill and DeFrand share is a competitive fire that each stoked growing up on the mean streets of south Florida.

"When you find good south Florida kids," explained Siegal, "they're competitors because they were competitors for food back in the home, they were competitors for making it back and forth from school, they were competitors to make it from their house to the playground. They're both competitors."

Hill and DeFrand have so much in common and are seen each other's company so often that they're called "Frick and Frack" by coaches and teammates. Siegal doesn't have a problem praising the pair for their talent and work ethic, but he refuses to say which he'd rather have if he could only have one.

"I'm not going to touch that one with a 10-foot pole," he said with a laugh. "If you get either one of those you've got one of the better corners in the SEC. Get both corners and you'll be doing a lot of blitzing. You won't have to worry about the long stuff."

If any school is able to get both corners, it appears to be Tennessee.

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