Star receiver Brown top prize remaining in Tennessee
Tennessee might not rival recruiting hotbeds like Georgia and Florida, but this southern state is home to two SEC programs and some fine talent. Since the ESPNU 150's inception with the Class of 2006, this state has produced at least one member and boasts close to 20 prospects who have rated in the top 20 at their position.
It has been especially strong at receiver with players such as USC's Patrick Turner, Notre Dame's Golden Tate and Tennessee's Rod Wilks. This year is no different, with wide receiver Marlon Brown (Memphis/Harding) being the state's top dog.
Three players rank in the top 10 nationally at their position, including two offensive linemen -- Georgia commit Austin Long (Memphis, Tenn. / Briarcrest Christian) and Georgia Tech commit Will Jackson (Knoxville, Tenn. / Farragut).
Six of the state's top 10 players remain uncommitted.
Harding (Memphis, Tenn.)
Considering: Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, USC, Ohio State, LSU
One of only two players from the state in the ESPNU 150, Brown ranks as the nation's No. 2 wide receiver and a top-20 overall prospect. A two-sport athlete who also excels on the basketball court, he possesses the coveted traits of size and speed. At about 6-foot-5, he creates mismatches in the passing game.
We had a chance to see him in person at USC's Rising Senior camp, and he blew us away with his physical tools. He is physical with defenders and uses his build to shield the ball and get position. His wingspan and ability to go up and get the ball makes him a valuable target in the red zone.
He posted a 127-yard performance with two touchdown catches of 25 and 79 yards in one game and an impressive 11-catch, 185-yard, two-touchdown outing in another to kick off the 2008 season. The coveted prospect has received interest nationwide and looks to have his eye on six schools. Ohio State and Georgia look to be set with visit dates, and the remaining four -- Tennessee, Florida, USC and LSU -- hope to land a visit.
Memphis might be a city known for the blues, but this native will make some college program very happy.
Daniel Hood, defensive end
Knoxville Catholic HS (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Considering: Auburn, Mississippi, Georgia Tech
Hood is one of those kids who could be a fan favorite. He plays with a high motor, and for a big guy, he can do so many things to help a team. We have him listed at defensive end because of his ability, motor and build, but he could also be recruited as a blocking tight end, and with some time to physically mature could also develop into an offensive or defensive tackle.
Where he lands and that team's needs will dictate where he eventually plays, but the bottom line is this is the type of kid you love to have on your team. He might not be the most athletic prospect, but his ability coupled with his versatility and effort level can help you win.
Hood has drawn much deserved interest from BCS programs. Even though he lives right down the road from the Tennessee campus, it looks like he will head out of state to play his college football. If you have not heard of him, be sure to check out his highlights because he is a fun player to watch and deserves a little attention.
Tennessee, 17 commits (Sept. 17)
The Volunteers are the big power in the state. With a long, rich history, they can be tough to beat for in-state prospects, especially for the other three FBS programs in the state. Still, the Volunteers have been up and down in their recruiting recently, but they seem on track to make a run at a top-10 class this year.
Of their 16 prep commits, they have three ESPNU 150 prospects in running back Jarvis Giles (Tampa, Fla./Gaither), wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes (Philadelphia/Northeast) and quarterback Josh Nunes (Upland, Calif.). The three make up a promising trio of future offensive weapons, all landed from out of state. Giles is from SEC territory Florida, but the other two are from more nontraditional recruiting areas for the Volunteers, with Stokes hailing from Philadelphia and Nunes from the West Coast.
With only four in-state pledges, the Vols' current class reaches into nine other states. Some good in-state prospects remain out there for the Volunteers to grab in Brown and No. 16 corner Eric Gordon (Nashville/Hillsboro).
Vanderbilt, 11 commits (Sept. 17)
The Commodores are off to a good 3-0 start with wins over Miami (Ohio) and South Carolina. While they are halfway to bowl eligibility on the field, they are also recruiting well off it.
It won't catch the Volunteers in any recruiting rankings, but Vanderbilt has 11 commitments thus far with four ranking among the top 50 at their position. At the top of the class is sleeper running back Eric Samuels (Umatilla, Fla.) out of Florida and tough defensive tackle Darrius McMullin (Birmingham, Ala./Spain Park) out of neighboring Alabama. Smart safety Jay Fullam (Chattanooga, Tenn. / McCallie) is its lone in-state prospect.
Memphis, 9 commits (Sept. 17)
Memphis' class is JUCO heavy, with four of its nine commits coming from that route. Tight end Brooks Johnson (Decatur, Ala.) is the top prep pledge, a productive pass catcher with good potential if he can bulk up.
Middle Tennessee State, 2 commits (Sept. 17)
The Blue Raiders' recruiting is coming along a little slower with only two current commitments. Wide receiver Arthur Williams (Phenix City, Ala. / Glenwood) has good speed and could develop into a vertical threat.
Battle Ground Academy-Franklin (4-0) at Briarcrest Christian-Eads (4-0), Friday, 8 p.m. ET:
Two of Tennessee's hottest private schools (from the Super Prep Conference) will meet near Memphis. Athletic QB Jamal Ramsey (Miami-Ohio recruit) is a dual threat operating in a conservative offensive set. Briarcrest is one of four teams which share the lead in the Division II AA-West standings. The Saints averaged nearly 34 points in four victories. Austin Long (6-6, 270 pounds), No. 46 in the ESPNU 150, is the fifth overall offensive tackle prospect nationally. -- Christopher Lawlor