"I've got a close relationship with coach (Butch) Jones and coach Z," Lauderdale told InsideTennessee. "Ever since I talked with them, they've been wanting to get close with me. Like each week I talk to them. I just like them as coaches. I like their program, I like Tennessee's program for sure."
Lauderdale calls both California and Georgia home. He was born in the Golden State before moving to the south when he was 9. After graduating from Fayette County (Ga.) High School, he enrolled at Saddleback (Calif.) Community College at 18.
The FOX Sports NEXT and Scout four-star, who doesn't turn 21 until March 7, pointed at the efforts of Azzanni as a major reason why he picked Tennessee. That, and an unofficial visit to Rocky Top this summer.
"He's been wanting me since Day 1," Lauderdale said. "He's been kind of begging too, but he's been cool about it. He told me straight up that even though I was his No. 1 guy, he was going to keep recruiting other receivers. I liked how he kept that real 100 with me. When I took my unofficial there, I enjoyed my time. I kind of knew after that I was going to go there."
The playmaker said he didn't even have a list of finalists. That's how much Tennessee stuck out to him. He did have scholarship offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Illinois and Miami (Fla.).
Coordinator Mike Bajakian's offense intrigues Lauderdale just as it does numerous other wideouts with anywhere between 80-100 plays being called a game. Distribution of the football to skill players raises eyebrows.
"I just figured we'd do well," Lauderdale said. "This upcoming year, that coaching staff is going to throw the ball a lot.
"I talked to coach Jake. He said they want to average 90 plays a game. They're probably going to have 3-4 receivers in each time. I'd seen what they did at Cincinnati because I have friend (Alex Chisum) that played at Cincinnati when these same coaches were there. They play 3-4 receivers, and they throw the ball a lot. He said that's what they want to do so that really attracted me to them more."
The California resident wasted no time admitting he knew all about former Vols and current NFL wideouts Cordarrelle Patterson (first-round pick to Minnesota Vikings) and Justin Hunter (second-round draft pick to Tennessee Titans).
It's too early to say how the four-star's skills will play out in the Southeastern Conference, but he doesn't lack for confidence, knowing a pro career is within reach.
"I'll know when I get there for sure. I have the ability to do it. Even if I can't do one year then I have that next year. I'm doing it that following year for sure if I don't do it the first year."
When asked if he believes Azzanni is the type position coach that can mold him into an NFL-ready wideout, Lauderdale replied matter-of-factly: "Yes, he can."
In 2012, Lauderdale caught 60 balls for 916 yards and seven touchdowns.
Original plans were to be a midyear enrollee but online coursework issues are forcing Lauderdale to stay at his junior college through the spring semester. He hopes to officially visit Knoxville at some point this winter.
Check out the highlights of Lauderdale from his freshman season at Saddleback: