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December 27, 2012

The Big Board: Defense

With just a little over a month until signing day, Volquest.com brings you the 'Big Board,' an extensive look at Tennessee's remaining targets on the recruiting board as well as other pertinent information regarding a prospect's recruitment.

This is a board we plan to keep updated as we learn more about prospects, including visit dates, finalist, announcement dates, etc., so check back often for updates.

Today, we unveil the defensive side of the board after releasing the offensive board on Wednesday.

DEFENSIVE LINE COMMITS
Jason Carr DL, 6-6/280, Memphis, Tenn.
Carr has been solid it appears since the coaching change. The 6-6, 280 pound 4-star defensive lineman is certainly important for Jones and Co. Carr has been and is being pursued hard by Ole Miss and he has said that he expects to take some official visits throughout the month of January meaning Tennessee can't afford to assume anything with him.

Official visit date: 1-11-13
Other teams in the mix: Ole Miss, Alabama, Vanderbilt
UPDATE: DEC. 31: Carr has scheuled visit to Tennessee (Jan. 11), Alabama (Jan. 18) and Ole Miss (Jan. 25).
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Carr was in town over the weekend and we've heard from some close to him the visit weekend went well. We're still waiting to hear from him.

Joe Sanders DL, 6-5/270, LaGrange, Ga.
Sanders has continued to say he's committed to the Vols. Washington and North Carolina have come calling. And Georgia according to Sanders is said to be evaluating him. However, Sanders has made it clear as long as he's still wanted at Tennessee, he wants to be a Vol.

Official visit date: 1-18-13
Other teams in the mix: Washington, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky
UPDATE JAN. 9: Sanders will visit Washington Jan. 11 and also has set up visits Kentucky and North Carolina.
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Sanders' visit to Washington reportedly went very well. He will be at Tennessee this weekend.

DEFENSIVE LINE TARGETS
Carl Lawson DL, 6-2/250, Alpharetta, Ga.
The Vols are trying to go from the outhouse to the penthouse with the nation's second ranked player. Tennessee has made up significant ground in the last couple of weeks after Butch Jones' visit to see Lawson and his father. The changes at Auburn have made things interesting for the one time Tiger commitment. The hiring of Rodney Garner likely doesn't help Auburn as Georgia didn't offer Lawson while Garner was there.

Official visit date: 1-18-2013
Other teams in the mix: Auburn, Clemson, Ole Miss, Auburn, UNC
UPDATE JAN. 9: Lawson is taking an official visit to Clemson on Jan. 11 and the to Tennessee Jan. 18. It also seems Auburn is jumping back in the mix here.
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Lawson was at Clemson over the weekend and will be at Tennessee this weekend. He has visits scheduled for North Carolina and Auburn leading up to signing day.

Dee Liner DL, 6-2/273, Muscle Shoals, Ala.
It seems to be kind of anyone's guess what's going on with Liner who has been an Auburn commitment but has refused to comment on his recruitment. Alabama is thought to be a factor. Auburn is still trying with new defensive line coach Rodney Garner and Tennessee is trying to use their ties to Liner with both Tommy Thigpen and Willie Martinez to be a factor as well. Liner has also indicated some interest in the Vols going back to June when he visited with Volquest at the Rivals.com 5-star challenge.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Auburn, Alabama

Keith Bryant DL, 6-2/306, Delray Beach, Fla.
Bryant is someone that's been somewhat interested in Tennessee for some time and kept in contact with the former staff regularly. Earlier this month Bryant de-committed from Miami as his mother would like to see him go to school outside of South Florida. But, right now, Florida State is considered the leader with Bryant also giving South Carolina and Tennessee a close look.

Official visit date: 1-25-2013
Other teams in the mix: Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Alabama
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Bryant was visited by Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling on Monday and is scheduled to visit Tennessee on Jan. 25. FSU is still the presumed leader here.

Rod Crayton DL, 6-5/240, Dadeville, Ala.
Crayton's recruitment has been a bit of a mystery. The Dadeville, Ala. native has not gotten much attention from the in-state schools and at this point it looks like Penn State is the leader. Quickness and foot speed appear to be the biggest concerns with Crayton, who has admitted he likes the Vols. Tennessee has come calling, but how much defensive line coach Steve Stripling likes Crayton as he evaluates him.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Penn State, LSU, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State

Davin Bellamy DL, 6-5/240, Chamblee, Ga.
The Florida State commitment fell in love with Tennessee when he visited back in the spring. The Vol staff didn't return the immediate love and by the time Tennessee offered so had most of the southeast including the Seminoles. But Tennessee has continued to recruit Bellamy and he has continued to listen to several schools including the Vols, Virginia Tech and Missouri. Bellamy told Volquest that he will visit sometime in January. You have to wonder where Bellamy fits in FSU's new defensive scheme.

Official visit date: Jan. 18
Other teams in the mix: Florida State, Missouri, Virginia Tech. Auburn
UPDATE 1-7: Bellamy scheduled an official visit to Tennessee after defensive line coach Steve Stripling met with him last week. Also look for Auburn to get and official as well.
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Bellamy visited Florida State over the weekend and apparently the visit went very well for the long-time Seminole commitment. Up next is Tennessee.

Naim Mustafaa DL, 6-4/235, Alpharetta, Ga.
Mustafaa has always liked the Vols, but was never comfortable with the uncertainty surrounding the former staff. The result was a commitment to Georgia by Mustafaa, who is an outside linebacker in a 3-4 and a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Jones and his staff don't appear to have enough time to catch up with Mustafaa who is supposed to enroll in Athens for the spring semester. Mustafaa was in Knoxville in October for an unofficial visit and is friends with current Vol Corey Miller.

Official visit date: 10-20-2012
Other teams in the mix: Georgia
UPDATE 1-7: In a pretty shocking move, Mustafaa has enrolled early at Oklahoma State.

Marquedius Bain DL, 6-3/308, Jacksonville, Fla.
Bain is a new name to Tennessee recruiting circles after the new staff offered the Jacksonville product last week. Bain has already taken three visits to Marhsall, Oklahoma and LSU and may give the Vols a look with one of his final two official visits. Right now LSU is on top after his last official visit.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: LSU, Oklahoma, Marshall, Miami
UPDATE 1-2: Bain committed to LSU and said he won't take anymore official visits.

Jaylen Miller DL, 6-3/255, Gaffney, S.C. ADDED JAN. 9
The Vols have always been a place Miller thought highly of and with a new staff in place the Vols think highly of Miller as well. He's been talking to numerous Tennessee coaches over the last few weeks and is scheduled to visit the first weekend in February. Miller is certainly high on the Vols, but is just now forming relationships with the new staff and has already built them with the other three schools he's visiting in January.

Official visit date: 2-2-13
Other teams in the mix: Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Maryland
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Miller was at Georgia Tech over the weekend and has Wake Forest and Maryland visits before visiting Tennessee.

Parker Cothren DL, 6-5/265, Hazel Green, Ala. ADDED Jan. 11
Cothren is a new name to the board after Tennessee offered the versatile defensive lineman from Alabama. He's been committed to Penn State since November but his father told Volquest late last week he is likely to visit Tennessee. With Ted Roof leaving Penn State, the door has opened for the Vols.

Official visit date: 1-18-2013
Other teams in the mix: Penn State, Georgia Tech

LINEBACKER COMMITS
Corey Vereen LB, 6-2/220, Orlando, Fla.
Although from Florida and his stock rising during his senior season, Vereen stuck with the Vols and never wavered as his plan was always to enroll early at Tennessee and he will do so in just over a week.

Official visit date: 9-14-2012
Other teams in the mix: None

LINEBACKER TARGETS
Reuben Foster LB, 6-2/230, Auburn, Ala.
The five-star linebacker was all set to go to Auburn before the Tigers staff was fired. Now, Foster seems pretty open to schools and Tennessee is trying to get him on campus. Foster is scheduled to visit Washington on Jan. 11th and Georgia on Jan. 25th. Auburn is not out of the picture but being an Auburn resident Foster might not take an official there. The question is can new Tennessee assistant and linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen who was at Auburn get Foster to Knoxville for a look.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Alabama, Auburn, Washington, Georgia, LSU, Miami, South Carolina
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Foster visited Washington over the weekend and told some he will be at Alabama over the weekend. But, he has indicated to others he may be in Knoxville as well. It will be wait and see leading up to the weekend.

Trey Johnsonr LB, 6-1/222, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Tennessee is one of Johnson's five finalists joining Auburn, Ohio State, Florida and Penn State on the list. Johnson was also a one time Auburn commitment who has opened things up and Johnson obviously knows Tennessee assistant Tommy Thigpen who has been to see Johnson in the last couple of weeks. Johnson has also been on Tennessee's campus before for an unofficial visit. The problem is that according to Johnson's coach, the Georgia native is thinking about announcing at the Under Armour and if so look for Ohio State to receive that commitment.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Ohio State, Penn State, USC, Auburn
UPDATE 1-4: Johnson went ahead and committed to Ohio State at the Under Armour Game and while Tennessee will continue to try here it continues to look like a long shot.

Yannick Ngakoue LB, 6-3/240, Washington, D.C.
The Maryland native has the home state school high on his list but he has always spoke about how much he liked his visit to Tennessee back in the summer. With a new coaching staff in place, the question is can Tennessee get him back to campus to get a legitimate look from him. Ngakoue also has South Carolina, Miami, and West Virginia on his list. Ngakoue doesn't have any official visits scheduled at this point and the Vols are in a position to get one of those visits in January. It's also worth remembering Thigpen recruited Ngakoue a bit when at Auburn.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, West Virginia, Florida State
UPDATE: DEC. 31: Yannick told Rivals.com late last week that he's no longer considering Tennessee. The Vols may try and get back in this one, but it looks like nothing will happen between Tennessee and Ngakoue.

Zach Cunningham LB, 6-4/200, Pinson Valley, Ala.
The Vol faithful were up in arms over the fact that Tennessee offered Cunningham a scholarship. But others like Ole Miss and UCLA followed suit. Cunningham took an unofficial visit to Alabama in early November and his recruitment has taken off. Cunningham has been offered the opportunity to sit out next year and gray-shirt with Alabama. The Tide has been his favorite school for a while, but he's not sure about sitting out for a year. Tennessee's tie with Cunningham is Thigpen who recruited him for Auburn.

Official visit date: 1-21-13
Other teams in the mix: Alabama, Auburn, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Cunningham visited Auburn over the weekend and next up is Oregon. He'll take a Monday, Tuesday visit next week to Tennessee.

E.J. Levenberry LB, 6-3/226, Woodbridge, Va.
The on again off again attraction with Tennessee and the Levenberry's has been something to watch. Levenberry has always liked the Vols. He is a huge fan of current Vol Curt Maggitt and he has always been interested. The problem is that former defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri wasn't interested in him. Things got started back up with the Vols when Sunseri left thanks to the work of former graduate assistant Brandon Staley. When Staley wasn't retained that hurt the Vols with Levenberry who's committed to FSU. The question now is how comfortable is Levenberry in Tallahassee now that Sunseri has landed there as a position coach.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Florida State, Oklahoma
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Tennessee kept trying with Levenberry and it may be paying off as Thigpen was in to visit Levenberry at the end of last week and the family is talking about visiting.

Jermaine Grace LB, 6-1/200, Miramar, Fla. ADDED JAN. 7
Grace has been flirting with Tennessee since having a really good unofficial visit over the summer and now wants to see the Vols again on an official visit. There's no doubt he's a strong Cane lean, but he's also continued to be intrigued by Tennessee and has said the Vols are in second place behind Miami.

Official visit date:1-11-13
Other teams in the mix: Miami, Florida, Louisville
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Grace was in town over the weekend for the official visit and he noted that it was a better experience than the one he had in the summer at Tennessee, but can the Vols overcome the distance? He visits Louisville next.

Skai Moore LB, 6-2/210, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ADDED Jan. 11
Moore is on the board after decommitting from Rutgers in recent days and Tennessee extending an offer to the four-star linebacker. Besides Rutgers, it's an SEC battle with Vanderbilt and Arkansas in it as well. He's talked about visiting during the last open weekend but it's a long ways to that weekend.

Official visit date: 2-2-2013
Other teams in the mix: Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Rutgers

Jonathan Walton LB, 6-0/220, Daphne, Ala. ADDED Jan. 11
Walton officially decommitted from Penn State after returning home from his official visit to Tennessee, where he had a very good time. But, the biggest threat may be instate Auburn as they've done well in the Mobile area in recent years.

Official visit date: 1-11-2013
Other teams in the mix: Auburn, South Carolina

DEFENSIVE BACKS COMMITS
Jalen Reeves-Maybin DB, 6-1/200, Clarksville, Tenn.
Reeves-Maybin was solid throughout the coaching search and into the transition and it helped that Jones had recruited Reeves-Maybin while he was at Cincinnati so there was already some familiarity there. Reeves-Maybin is enrolling early and will be at UT within the next two weeks.

Official visit date: 12-14-2012
Other teams in the mix: None

Lemond Johnson DB, 6-1/190, Cooper City, Fla.
Johnson quickly became a target of interest for the Vols when Willie Martinez went to work for Tennessee after coming from Auburn. Johnson took an official visit just before the dead period and committed the day after he returned. He's an early enrollee and will be at UT within two weeks.

Official visit date: 12-13-2012
Other teams in the mix: None

Riyahd Jones DB, 6-0/185, Garden City, Kan.
Jones has already signed with Tennessee and is set to enroll in just a few weeks in Knoxville. Give Martinez a lot of credit here having Jones be comfortable signing with a school he never officially visited and recruiting him for just a week before committing. Grabbing the juco corner was a big get for the Vols as there is a need for corners in this class.

Official visit date: None
Other teams in the mix: None

Cameron Sutton DB, 6-0/175, Jonesboro, Ga.
Sutton has stuck with the Vols through the coaching transition and it helps that Martinez is on staff with the Vols as well here. Sutton will take his official visit in January and while a few teams are calling, it doesn't seem like Sutton is going anywhere. He's the only one of four defensive back commits not scheduled to enroll early.

Official visit date: 1-18-13
Other teams in the mix: Auburn
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Competition has come from Auburn for Sutton as he visited there last week and he's seriously considering the Tigers after the visit. Tennessee will host him this weekend in a critical visit to keep him.

Malik Foreman DB, 5-10/170, Kingsport, Tenn.
The Vols have come on strong for Foreman the past several weeks after the new staff made him a top priority after getting on campus. The work paid off as Foreman took an unofficial visit the Sunday before the dead period and we've heard he liked what he saw. He's tentatively scheduled to take a visit on Jan. 11 and if he makes that visit it will looks like it will get very interesting, but Tennessee will have to continue to fight off the Commodores for Foreman. Virginia Tech and Clemson have been in contact recently as well and may decide to take a run at Foreman.

Official visit date: 1-11-2012
Other teams in the mix: None
UPDATE 12-29: Foreman decommitted from Vanderbilt to commit to the Vols and will shut down his recruitment after visiting Jan. 11.

DEFENSIVE BACKS TARGETS
Jalen Ramsey DB, 6-0/190, Brentwood, Tenn.
Ramsey has been a top target for Tennessee for a few years now and he's been on campus numerous times but something never clicked between him and the old staff. The question is can this new group of coaches make up enough ground to get Ramsey's last official visit. The Vols are battling Oregon and Florida State as all three try and get a visit from the five-star cornerback.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: USC, Washington, Mississippi State, Florida, Oregon, Florida State
UPDATE JAN. 9: Ramsey has scheduled his final official visit to Florida State and won't visit Tennessee effectively ending the chance that Ramsey ends up a Vol.

Vonn Bell DB, 6-1/190, Rossville, Ga.
Tennessee was always Bell's favorite school growing up but Bell felt the past staff wasn't recruiting him as hard as other schools like Alabama and Ohio State and that's why both schools are seemingly in front of the Vols for Bell right now. The good news for Tennessee is that they're scheduled to receive the last visit from Bell in January, but will Bell have already made a decision by the time he sees the Vols? Tennessee has a lot of ground to make up in such a short time.

Official visit date: 1-25-2012
Other teams in the mix: Alabama, Ohio State
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Bell left Ohio State without giving the Buckeyes a commitment and Bell says he won't commit until signing day so the Vols are still in this one. Next up is a trip to Alabama this weekend.

Jaleel Hytchye DB, 5-11/165, Cincinnati, Ohio
Hytchye has become very interested in Tennessee now that Butch Jones and co. are in Knoxville after building a good rapport with them while they were at Cincinnati. The speedy cornerback wants to visit Tennessee in January and if that happens look for that to happen either Jan. 18 or Jan. 25 as he is currently scheduled for a Jan. 11 visit to Northwestern. Kentucky also seems to be making a run at Hytchye as are a few other schools.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Kentucky, Northwestern, Penn State, Arizona State, Pittsburgh
UPDATE JAN. 7: Hytchye committed to Kentucky and it seems as though Tennessee didn't pursue very hard in the end.

Dee Paul DB, 5-11/160, Munday, Texas
Paul is another new name on the board. Tennessee first started to recruit him with the old staff but has turned it up after Paul led his Munday team to a Texas state championship. The electric playmaker is a defensive back at the next level and teams like Baylor and Texas Tech are trying to make sure he doesn't leave the state. The Vols are still in the early stages of recruiting him but he's listening.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor
UPDATE: JAN. 12: Paul committed to Texas Tech on Saturday night and won't visit Tennessee.

Jahmere Irvin-Sills DB, 5-10/170, Elkton, Md.
Tommy Thigpen was the lead recruiter for Irvin-Sills when he was committed to Auburn and that's how Tennessee has gotten in it with the 5-foot-11 cornerback. But, where is Irvin-Sills on the board for the Vols right now with a couple of guys possibly above him? Tennessee will no doubt continue to recruit him but we're unsure of his positioning on the board.

Official visit date: TBD
Other teams in the mix: Auburn, West Virginia, UCLA, Ole Miss, Mississippi State
UPDATE: JAN. 14: Irvin-Sills visited Mississippi State over the weekend and looks like he's farther down Tennessee's board, but with Sutton flips to Auburn he could come in play.

Devaun Swafford DB, 5-11/175, Kingsport, Tenn.
Swafford is the teammate of Foreman and might end up being offered a greyshirt to Tennessee, which means he'd enroll January of 2014 to be on the team for that season. Swafford has a couple of FCS offers and some smaller FBS schools are beginning to take notice. This one will likely come down to what Foreman wants to do.

Official visit date: 1-11-2013
Other teams in the mix: None
UPDATE 12-29: Swafford committed to the Vols to greyshirt and enroll at Tennessee in January of 2014.



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