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September 24, 2009

Familiar name to play for Diamond Vols

The Toles name hardly is an unfamiliar one for University of Tennessee fans.

In the early- to mid-1980s, Alvin Toles turned a hard-hitting, tenacious playing style at linebacker for the Volunteers into a first-round draft selection by the New Orleans Saints.

It's a different type of hitting that will bring Toles' son, Andrew, to the UT campus next year. The 5-foot-9-inch, 180-pound speedster recently committed to Bradley LeCroy, Todd Raleigh and the UT baseball program.

"It looked like a good opportunity to come in and start early. Obviously, my dad went there and I was trying to possibly help rebuild the program, help to do so," said the Fayetteville, Ga., native and Sandy Creek High School product.

The younger Toles has heard plenty from Dad about the UT experience, a first-hand account that definitely factored into the decision to commit to the Vols' diamond program.

"He did tell me, he was like, 'Yeah, the crowd, the students, the fan support is real good,'" Toles recalled. "From his experience, they treat you right. Everyone just treats you right. That was pretty much it."

Toles also cited a strong early relationship with the Vols' coaches, particularly the 31-year-old LeCroy with whom Toles said it was easy to communicate with and relate to.

"It's good so far. Talking with them, it seems like it should be interesting how it plays out when I get up there. It's a pretty good relationship," he said. "It does. It does a lot, actually (LeCroy's ability to relate to his players)."

Not surprisingly, Toles has had a handful of visits to Knoxville -- and expects to be there again next weekend when the Vols host Auburn in a big recruiting weekend across all sports.

"I went to a couple of football games with my dad, went to a baseball overnight camp when I was 10," he said. "It was real good."

Toles likewise said it was good to bring an end to his recruiting process with the commitment to Tennessee.

"It was [a relief to end the process]. I was getting a lot of phone calls. It was good to get the process out of the way and stop all the hassling and all that talk about where you want to commit," Toles said. "I had about seven offers; Auburn, LSU or FIU" were the other schools Toles considered before choosing Tennessee.

After batting a robust .450 last year with 26 stolen bases and a pair of home runs, the fleet-footed Toles now is working to hone his all-around game after a standout summer with the East Cobb Astros.

"I'm focusing on getting faster, getting a little bit stronger, create more power to help the team produce more runs," Toles said. "Be more dangerous with that aspect of he game."

With attention already being given the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft, Toles knows it's possible he could have a tough decision but indicates he expects to be in Knoxville playing with the Vols.

"I'm most likely going to go to Tennessee, but if I get a large, overwhelming amount of money, I'd probably take it," he said. "Besides that, I'm pretty much set on going to Tennessee."

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