Vols a Favorite for Tulsa Duo

Chase Nelson

Any team looking to improve its defense on the edge could do no better than checking out Union High School in Tulsa, Okla., where one of the nation's best corner prospects and defense end prospects thrive.

Dominique Franks, 6-0, 185, is rated No. 13 nationally by Scout.com among the nation's cornerback prospects, while teammate Chase Nelson, a 6-foot-3, 253-pound defensive end, is ranked No. 21 at his position.

Of course there's nothing new about Union High School having outstanding prospects. During head coach Bill Blankenship's 12 year tenure the Redskins have amassed 126 victories against 13 defeats and have won two of the last three state titles. During that span Union has produced more than 90 Division I signees.

There are no shortage of suitors for Franks and Nelson, but only Tennessee is listed as a top two contender for both prospects. Franks names the Vols and Miami as his current favorites while Nelson rates the Vols and UCLA as his top picks.

Nelson has also been offered by Arkansas, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, North Carolina, Minnesota and Oklahoma among others. Franks is considering offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Kansas State, MIssouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Franks has prototypical corner size as well as excellent 4.44 speed. His vertical leap is 32 inches and his bench press is 250. As a junior, he recorded more than 70 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries one which he returned for a touchdown. Franks also forced two fumbles and took a kickoff the distance.

"He's a glider," Blankenship told Steve Ryan of Big Red Report. "When he's returning kickoffs, you can see that acceleration, but on defense, it's just really hard to tell.

"He's pretty, I guess you could say."

In the 2005 season opener Franks was a thing of beauty, running for a touchdown as a tailback, intercepting a pass and returning it for a TD as a defensive back and taking a kickoff back 61 yards. He has continued to build on an impressive senior season.

"I have five interceptions on nine passes thrown my way," Franks told Scout.com's Brandon Cavanaugh. "Really, I should have eight but three got called back because of other pass interference calls. I have two rushing touchdowns, two interceptions returned for touchdowns and a kickoff return touchdowns. Just this week, the coaches put me on the punt return unit."

Most colleges, including Tennessee, are recruiting Franks as a defensive back although a few like him even better as a running back.

"I am being recruited a little bit for running back," he said. "But, most schools like me as a cornerback and that is where I prefer to play."

Franks can improve his technique as a tackler, but he has all the essentials, otherwise, to be a top notch D-I corner.

"He's legit," Blankenship stated. "He's got the size, speed, hips; he's got work to do, but potentially, he's a solid player for anyone out there."

Franks hasn't scheduled any visits to this point and may not until Union's season is over. When he does get around to touring campuses he knows what he'll be looking for.

"I'm looking for another home, because that's where I am going to spend like four years of my life," he told Cavanaugh. "I want to feel like that is a place I am comfortable and most importantly, that they want me there as a person along with being a player.

"Without a doubt, my top two are Tennessee and Miami. Those two are recruiting me the hardest."

Nelson is starting his third season at Union where he began as a sophomore nose-guard before moving to defensive tackle as a junior and defensive end this fall. In 2004, he recorded 76 tackles and six sacks, and is averaging a sack per game so far as a senior. Nelson bench presses 310 pounds, squats 425 and has a 29-inch vertical leap. Nelson size, speed and skills are very much like those of another Tulsa defensive end, Jonathan Brown, who started three seasons for UT.

"I am looking at North Carolina, UCLA, Tennessee, OU, Minnesota and Arkansas," he recently told James Hale of OU Insider. "All of those schools have offered me. When I look at colleges I know they are all going to be nice and all the football programs are going to have the same stuff. I am going to look for the players and coaches that I can mesh with. The atmosphere and the people I am going to be around are going to be the most important things to me."

The Vols will definitely have an edge on the competition if they land this Tulsa twosome.

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