Vols 'at the top' for 4-star DT

Poona Ford

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Poona Ford said he wasn't sure what to expect after trekking from Hilton Head Island, S.C., to observe Tennessee's Dish Network Orange & White game on Saturday.

But the second-largest crowd to ever to fill Neyland Stadium for the Vols' spring game clearly made a favorable impression on the FOX Sports NEXT four-star defensive tackle.

The No. 20 defensive tackle prospect described the atmosphere as "electric" and proclaimed Tennessee his top school at the moment.

"Yeah, that was a lot of people for a spring game," Ford told InsideTennessee. "I loved it. Loved it all. It was pretty electric. … (Tennessee's) at the top."

The 6-foot-1, 285-pounder said he spent the majority of his time talking with Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling.

Ford also said he spoke with Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, adding that he liked the first-year coach's energy.

"Coach (Stripling) is a good guy," he said. "I like coach (Jones) a lot, too."

While Ford is well aware that five defensive lineman will depart Tennessee at the conclusion of the 2013 football season — including Maurice Couch, Daniel Hood, Jacques Smith, Marlon Walls, Corey Miller and Daniel McCullers — he said the family atmosphere during his visit meant more to him than the possibility of yielding early playing time.

"They treat me like I am family and like I am already committed here," Ford said. "I don't really know how else to describe it."

While Tennessee left a clear impression on Ford, he said he has no timetable on when he will make a decision.

"I'm not trying to rush it," he said. "I want to make sure my decision is the right decision."

Ford claims nearly 15 scholarship offers to date, including South Carolina, Arkansas, Ohio State, Louisville, Mississippi and Missouri.

The Palmetto State native said he is being heavily recruited by South Carolina and plans to visit the in-state school "soon."

When asked if he planned to return to Tennessee for a visit, Ford replied with a humble "maybe."

The rising prospect received an offer from Ohio State on April 17 and plans to attend the Buckeyes' camp in June.

As a junior, Ford registered over 150 tackles, including 44 for loss, and added 11 sacks. He has been praised for being explosive off the ball and has the frame to add more weight.

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