Tennessee makes push for Nelson

Wisconsin remains among the favorites for Glenville star

Tennessee's recruiters are playing catch up in the race for prime quarterback prospects from the Class of 2006, and they are closing ground.

Take the case of Arvell Nelson (6-foot-4, 175 pounds, 4.7-second 40-yard dash), from Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Rated No. 24 nationally among quarterback prospects by Scout.com, he didn't have Tennessee anywhere on his list of favorites two weeks ago. Now the Vols are one of his top five, along with Iowa, Michigan State, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

After missing five games as a junior due to injury, Nelson made a name for himself during the May evaluation period for his assortment of passing skills. Interest in the signal caller intensified during a standout senior season in which he stayed healthy and passed for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading Glenville to a perfect 11-0 mark.

Tennessee's interest in adding a quarterback appears to correspond to the problems Eric Ainge has experienced this season, and the fact Jonathan Crompton is coming off surgery. Losing Rick Clausen to graduation adds to the need because it leaves only Ainge with college game experience. The need for three quarterbacks is further underscored by the 2004 campaign in which the Vols lost their No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks to injuries.

This season's quarterback crisis at UT has made the Vols a more viable option for prospects that may have been discouraged by the competition before the campaign unfolded. It may have also prompted the Vols to offer Nelson, who plans to visit Knoxville before announcing his decision. He has offers from all of his favorites, along with every school in the MAC, which has a good reputation for producing pro-style quarterbacks.

Tennessee has offered another of the midwest's best signal callers in No. 5 rated Isiah Williams (6-2, 220, 4.7) of Chicago Vocational High School. A soft verbal to Illinois, he has an official visit to UT planned for Dec. 2. and to Illinois Dec. 9. He visited North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Closer to home the Vols have an interest in Justin Roper of Buford, Ga., although they haven't offered him. Rated No. 32 nationally, the 6-foot-7, 195-pound Roper has Tennessee as one of his favorites along with Oregon (Nov. 4 visit), Louisville (Sept. 17) and Duke. He has also been offered by Georgia Tech and Maryland. No visit dates have been set for either UT or Duke.

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