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March 16, 2009

Nation's top recruit chooses Tennessee

Brent Hubbs
Rivals.com Football Recruiting
When Lane Kiffin was announced as the new coach at Tennessee, he vowed that he and his staff would go out and get the best players in the country.

Little did anyone expect that Kiffin and Co. would go out in three months and sign the nation's No. 1 player.

But in a press conference at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Vols did just that in landing running back Bryce Brown.

"I asked God to reveal it to me," Brown said. "He gave me the sign. When I first went there (on official visit) I wasn't feeling it. I had a lot of concerns about Tennessee and the offense. When I went back, I got the sign. God told me that I was a Volunteer. I just felt it."

That feel came mostly from seeing Tennessee work out Friday night inside Neyland Stadium.

"It was very important," Brown said of his unofficial visit over the weekend. "When I went there the first time, I just didn't get a good feel offensively of what they wanted to do. Seeing spring practice and seeing the offense work, it's exactly what I was looking for. They have a lot of coaches with NFL experience and I felt that they could help me best get prepared for the next level."

Like Brown's entire recruitment, Monday's announcement was full of suspense and some drama. It started 10 minutes late and Brown pulled out a Miami hat that he had been seen wearing Sunday and Monday.

But as it appeared he might be saying he was a Hurricane, Brown turned and handed the hat to his older brother Arthur Brown and donned a Tennessee hat declaring he was a Vol.

The quest for Brown, who said Kansas State finished second, has centered mostly around friend/handler Brian Butler. But the Vols, led by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and running backs coach Eddie Gran, took a different approach recruiting Brown and his parents.

Brown, who said his position coach would be was a key element to his decision, obviously likes Gran.

"I like Coach Gran a lot," Brown said. "His philosophy is a lot like Brian's [Butler]. He expects nothing but the best from you, and that is what I am used to.

"I wanted to go to a place where I knew the coaches would push me and make me work the hardest every day. I learned yesterday at church when there is a lot of pressure on me, that is when I am at my best."

And Tennessee fans hope Brown is at his best on the field this fall.

A lifelong Knoxville resident, Brent Hubbs has covered the Volunteers professionally since 1994. Hubbs founded VolQuest.com in January of 2000 and can also be heard on his weekly radio show or on the Vol Network during pre-game.
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