RECRUITING: Big-Time OT Likes UT

Aaron Brown

As good as he is Connor Smith isn't the only topflight offensive line prospect from the city of Cincinnati to draw the attention of major college gridiron powers from coast to coast.

In fact, if you're judging from offers each has received there isn't much separating the abilities of the more celebrated Smith and the hardly anonymous Aaron Brown. At 6-foot-6, 290 pounds Brown matches Smith (6-5, 290) in size and both big men have posted 5.1 personal best 40 times.

Smith's father, Joe Connor, is also his head coach at Colerain High School where Connor developed into a dominator. Brown's father, George, is a personal trainer who helped transform his son from a 217-pound small forward into a titanic tackle for Princeton High School. Both prospects project as weak side tackles in college and both have been on the radar of major college programs for the last two years.

Within a couple of weeks of national signing day 2005, Brown had offers on the table from Miami (Fla.), Ohio State, Auburn, LSU, Nebraska, Louisville, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Indiana, Boston College, Cincinnati, Syracuse and Purdue. A month later Tennessee made an official offer and immediately went on his list of favorites. By the end of May that number had grown to 41 and the Vols remained a serious contender. Now it might be easier to name the premiere D-I programs that haven't offered Brown, but only seven are on his list of favorites and Tennessee is one of those. The others are Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Purdue, Ohio State and Purdue.

Brown is rated No. 2 behind Smith among the football prospects in Ohio and No. 17 nationally at his position, but he doesn't have to take a back seat to anyone when it comes to potential. Blessed with superb quickness and a massive wingspan, Brown appears to smother pass rushers and has the mobility to play defensive line. Like Smith, he needs to improve his upper body strength (295-pound bench) but he has excellent leg strength and is an advanced cut blocker.

Choosing a school won't be easy but Brown, who is fully qualified knows he's looking for an opportunity for early playing time.

"We're looking for a school that isn't about playing politics," Brown's father told Scout.com's Chris Pool. "We're looking for a winning program that will play the best players, no matter if he's a freshman or a senior."

That bodes well for Tennessee which was willing to start two freshmen quarterbacks in 2004 as well as starting two rookies in the secondary. The Vols also lose three starters from the O-line next year and given their tendency to multitask with its lineman, a freshman could break into rotation as both Cody Douglas and Arron Sears did. Conveying that message in a persistent manner is the key to landing Smith.

"What are you doing if you aren't serious about a recruit you are going after?" George Brown told Steve Ryan of Big Red Report. "There isn't one school out there that has to be more serious than another about recruiting my son.

"I'm not saying my son is all that, but if you are ANY school going after the top recruits, you have to do the whole thing. You have to write the letters, make the phone calls when you can and basically, stay in touch. If you don't do that, you are going to get left behind the ones that do."

No coaching staff in the country does a better job of catering to the emotional and physical needs of O-line prospects than Tennessee.

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