Vols Wow Arkansas Prospects

When you forsake a home state Southeastern Conference school for an SEC school you've never seen before, you're either a young man of great faith or one of extreme confidence.

In the intriguing case of RoShaun Fellows: It's a nice balance of both.

The confidence he developed on his own through years of proving himself in the field of competition, growing up in the sleepy south Arkansas town of Warren. In characteristic fashion, Fellows capped his athletic achievements as a two-way star on consecutive state championship teams. Then with the flair of a man who knew where he was going, both physically and metaphorically, he chose the early hours after the Lumberjacks captured their second straight class 3A crown to announce he was going to a place he'd never been before — the University of Tennessee.

Least you take Fellows' actions as impulsive, remember that faith was the other factor of his decision-making formula. And a not insignificant portion of his considerable faith was placed in Tennessee assistant coach Steve Caldwell who recruited Fellows for the Volunteers.

"I think we all grew a great relationship with Coach Caldwell," Fellows said. "I know I have. I practically love the guy."

The faith Fellows placed in his relationship with Caldwell was rewarded on his first visit to UT, where he found the athletic and academic Eden the coach had described to him during their frequent talks over the last 18 months.

"It went great," Fellows exclaimed. "I had a great time. I knew the University of Tennessee was a great place, but I didn't know it would be anything like that. I mean I had a great time."

Fellows had been as far east as Nashville, but he had never crossed the Cumberland divide or gazed upon that collegiate jewel sitting on The Hill, bordered by winding banks of the Tennessee River, nestled in meandering western slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains, graced by nature's splendor every season of the year.

On Saturday, the UT campus was adorn by the remnants of a winter storm, cloaking the campus in a shroud of snow that glistened like a pristine prism under the bright lights of Neyland Stadium, where prospects dined from a skybox and drank in stunning vistas.

"It really was my first time there," said Fellows. "I had been to Memphis before and actually been to Nashville, but never Knoxville. It was a great place to be."

Asked what surprised him most about the visit, Fellows responded: "The campus. It's enormous. It was huge I'm telling you. The whole west of Knoxville was campus."

Perhaps the most reassuring aspect of his official visit was the high comfort level he felt around his future teammates and coaches. Overall, it was convincing enough to prompt Fellows to drop plans to visit Arkansas this weekend.

"I liked how the coaches and players kind of took everybody in," he said. "You're a family up there. I liked it. It kind of put the icing on the cake so I'll cancel all my other trips. I was scheduled to go to Arkansas this weekend, but I think I'm going to tell them to back off. I'm where I want to be."

The visit reinforced the feeling of family he got from Coach Caldwell and removed any lingering doubts about his decision to leave home.

"I feel like I fit in," he said. "I've got another piece to the puzzle. It just felt like I was at home. I wasn't nervous to be there or anything. I wasn't in shock about it. I wasn't homesick. I was very comfortable."

Accompanying Fellows on his visit was teammate Bret Smith who is rated the nation's No. 18 wide receiver prospect and who played in the recent U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Another teammate, wide receiver Terrance Hampton, was scheduled to take the trip to UT too, but canceled on Friday. He appears to be headed to Arkansas while Smith remains uncommitted.

Fellows offered the following take on Smith's status: "Actually from talking to him and his mom, his mom plays a major part of his decision because he loves his mom very much and he wants to make sure she can see him play, I think since his mom has had a chance to sit down and talk to Coach Caldwell, she feels a lot better about Tennessee. So I think Bret is pushing more toward Tennessee. We've been to Fayetteville. I mean we haven't been on an official visit, but we know what's there."

Fellows said he enjoyed meeting with secondary coach Larry Slade and learning more about Tennessee's defense, as well as, the opportunity he might have to be a part of it.

"We had a nice talk with Coach (Larry) Slade," he said. "We sat down and watched film and talked coverages. They'll look at me at right corner first. They have a guy named (Jabari) Greer at the left corner and he's got that spot pretty sowed up, but the right corner is pretty wide open right now."

One approach that proved effective for Tennessee was having fellow Arkansans host the Warren duo, sharing their experiences at UT along with an ample sample of their active social lives.

"The guys from Arkansas, Greg Jones and Cedric Houston, were our hosts," said Fellows. "We had a great time. I haven't slept much in three days."

When Fellows does drift off to sleep, he'll no doubt dream of the day he races into the big house of his new home.

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