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Vols cement spot in OLB Terrell Dawkins' top group after visit

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After picking up an offer from Tennessee back in February, Terrell Dawkins already had an early fondness for the Vols, and after visiting Rocky Top for the first time Saturday, Tennessee cemented itself as one of Dawkins’ leaders.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound hybrid North Carolina defensive lineman said Tennessee's tight ends coach Brian Niedermeyer and outside linebackers assistant Chris Rumph are recruiting him as hard as anyone, and meeting the staff in person over the weekend “helped me a lot.”

“It was already one of my top schools, but the visit really helped me determine that I liked the school even more,” said Dawkins, who made the trip with his parents.

“Tennessee is a school I’m most definitely considering. Most definitely.”

This spring, the Cox Mill (N.C.) prospect has visited Florida, N.C. State and Tennessee, with a trip upcoming next weekend to Ohio State. Saturday’s visit allowed Dawkins to not only spend time with UT’s staff but get clarity on how the Vols plan to utilize his skill-set.

At Cox Mill, Dawkins is coached by father, who moves the 2019 prospect all across the defensive line — playing end, tackle, nose and stand-up linebacker. Both UF and Tennessee are recruiting him as an outside ‘backer in their 3-4 base schemes, though.

“They want me rushing off the edge and then drop back in coverage every so often,” Dawkins said, adding that watching Saturday’s scrimmage allowed him to see exactly “how they were playing and moving guys around. It really helped me see what I would be doing there.”

Meshing well with Niedermeyer and Rumph was a major plus this weekend. Seeing a former UT star running back was a bonus, too.

"Alvin Kamara was there and I looked at him and thought, ‘He got money. I want it too," Dawkins said.

“I just the coaches’ personalities. Niedermeyer is a pretty funny dude. I feel like I can connect with him really easy. Rumph, when he talks, I just find him a cool dude to talk to and really communicate with. We can get on that level.”

With his parents in tow, Dawkins enjoyed his first look at Tennessee’s campus and Neyland Stadium. He joked that he thought the 97-year-old stadium looked “a little average,” but “then I went up to the top to watch the scrimmage and I looked down and man, it was scary to look down. That thing is huge.”

Dawkins hopes to get back to UF and Tennessee sometime this spring, but isn’t sure of his schedule yet. On the heels of his latest visit, he’s nearing an announcement, with a choice already in mind.

“I kind of already have a decision, but I’m still looking out a little bit,” he said.

“But I already really have a set decision in my head.”