Vince Redd: Final In-State Recruiting Prize

Tennessee has needs at both tight end and defensive end this recruiting season and Elizabethon's Vince Redd (6-7, 240) is a prospect that can fill both.

A three-year starter at Elizabethon, Redd starred at inside linebacker in the 4-4 and 5-2 schemes and occasionally came up to the line at defensive end in order to stunt.

Playing linebacker for the Fighting Cyclones meant that Redd was constantly fighting off blockers that were trying to tie him up down low, but he still managed to make 110 tackles.

"In high school you're not supposed to block below the waist, but they do," said Elizabethon head coach Tommy Jenkins. "We couldn't get the officials to call it much. He's such a big strong kid most people have to block him below the waist. You had to block him illegally to have a chance of blocking him."

When Redd wasn't running down halfbacks from sideline to sideline, he was exploiting the seams at tight end where he was as tough to bring down after the catch and he was hard to cover before. He finished with 28 catches and five touchdowns for the Fighting Cyclones who went 8-4 and advanced to the second round of playoffs. He could play either position in college and one school is even recruiting him as a linebacker.

"For the most part people are looking at him at defensive end," said Jenkins. "I think Tennessee talked to him last week about playing tight end. But the University of Virginia is recruiting him as a middle linebacker and they're very serious about it."

Jenkins said when Virginia revealed their plans for Redd to him, the coach was quick to be certain the Cavalier coaching staff knew the score.

"The first time they talked to him about it I said: you do realize he's 6-7 don't you?" It's one of these deals where I'm not lying about it. Coaches have a tendency to exaggerate heights, 40 speeds and so forth, no he's a legitimate big kid."

Speaking of 40 speeds, Redd has clocked a personal best 4.65 time but Jenkins said he's a probably a steady 4.75. However it's Redd's lateral mobility that makes it possible for him to have an impact at middle linebacker.

"I personally put a lot more stock on how you get from sideline to sideline than I do straight 40 speed," said Jenkins. "There was a lot of time this year that from ground level I wasn't sure he played very well, but going back at night at looking at the film he was making tackles on the opposite sideline that I'm not seeing. He has good mobility, good hustle and he can go left and right."

Redd also has quick feet and good leaping ability which serves him well on the basketball court. He's considered a legitimate hardwood prospect and will be given an opportunity to pursue both endeavors in college, but football appears to be his best sport.

"I think most schools realize his forte is football," said Jenkins. "But everybody that's made an offer has told him he can play basketball also. I think that's something he wants to try, if he can't do it he'll make that decision then."

Jenkins arranged for Redd to discuss the demands of a Division I football player with a former Elizabethon football player who knows the ropes.

"I've had Jason Witten talk to him a couple of times about the things that are required of a college football player," Jenkins said. "It wasn't to recruit him for Tennessee, but just to give him an idea how much time it takes to play college football at that level."

Jenkins, who was an assistant coach at Elizabethon when Witten played there, thinks Redd has a lot of the same physical ability as Witten, he just needs to adopt Witten's work ethic.

"I think they're very comparable," Jenkins said. "They both play well on both sides of the ball. Vince worked particularly hard this year on catching, doing things after practice and catching the ball. I think as far as running the field on defense, Vince probably did that just a little bit better. Where Jason had the advantage was on his work habit. Vince will have to learn that. He works, he gets in the weight room, but we were all spoiled by Jason and Shawn Witten and we sometimes expect everyone to work like they did. I think Vince's potential is the same as Jason, if he develops that habit of working."

Of course, Witten had the advantage of growing up in the home of his high school head football coach and learned the importance of good work habits early in life. That's something Redd can acquire, and he's already displayed the ability to amaze fans by doing things someone his size shouldn't be able to do.

"He drops into the zones quickly," Jenkins said of Redd in pass coverage. "He had at least one interception for a touchdown return.

"We were playing Greenville, a pretty good ball club, and they didn't want to kick to our big people, so they kicked a line drive and Vince was in our fullback position. He caught the ball and 69 yards later he scored. He broke a couple of tackles and just outran everybody else."

Perhaps the most impressive play turned in by Redd came in last year's playoff on what turned out to be a 26-yard reception.

"We had a playoff game and everybody in the stadium got to see this," said Jenkins, whose brother Bert Jenkins was Tennessee's team captain in 1977. "We threw a short pass to him at tight end and I counted that he was hit 14 times making a 26-yard gain. He ran it long enough that our quarterback had time to get down field and clip different three times. It was an amazing thing. He had a little bit of a mad on because they were blocking him in the legs. He wanted to prove a point so he just drug people down field. It was beautiful to watch."

As physically impressive as Redd is now, Jenkins believes he's just beginning to hit his stride and size as a football player.

"He's 240 now but during the football season he was up to 260," Jenkins explained. "He just turned 17 in September so he's still a kid. I think he will grow and he's got a strong frame. Depending on the school and how they want to work with him, I think he could be a John Henderson type of player. You could put 35 pounds on him and he would still be fast."

That explains why the competition for this Tennessee prospect has been so intense and why he's the last in-state prospect on the Vols recruiting board. South Carolina and Tennessee are considered the favorites for Redd's signature and the Vols had the last word last weekend when Redd took his last official visit.

"There's really five school involved,' said Jenkins, "Arkansas, Virginia, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Tennessee. We were supposed to have a rash of coaches coming in this week to talk to him, but I talked to his mother and we requested no one show up. That meant I didn't get to meet Lou Holtz and some of these other coaches, but that was for the best. The last people he talked to were Coach Fulmer and Coach Brooks."

Now all that remains for Redd is his announcement which according to Jenkins could come any time now.

"We don't know when he will announce," Jenkins said. "We have another football player who is going to sign that is Vince's best friend. He said coach when Walter announces, I will announce. So we're waiting on Walter to do something so we can push Vince to do something."

Jenkins said although he's a UT fan he has remained neutral when advising Redd on recruiting matters. However the Fighting Cyclone coach did impart a piece of advice for Redd to consider.

"I did tell him yesterday that we did send one man out of state and that was Davey Crockett, and look what happened to him."

Now when Redd thinks of Tennessee, he'll remember the Alamo.

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