That he announced his decision before the beginning of his senior season was no surprise, as that had been his stated intention throughout a hectic summer of unofficial visits. The fact he chose Tennessee was unexpected. Long regarded as a lean to North Carolina, he defied conventional wisdom with his pledge to the Vols.
That seems appropriate considering Tennessee also went against the flow by offering Fowlkes as a wide receiver rather than a defensive end.
At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, the three-star athlete certainly has ideal size to play wideout and his 4.50 speed is also plenty ample to test SEC secondaries. However, most of his experience is at defensive end and he only played part of his junior season before being sidelined with an elbow injury. Still Fowlkes finished with 49 tackles and five sacks in four games.
In addition to Tennessee and North Carolina, Fowlkes received offers from Ole Miss, Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State, Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota. Only Tennessee and Kentucky offered him as a wide receiver.
Although he’ll need to learn more about wide receiver to make a contribution at the next level, he won’t need to gain the weight it would have required to play defensive end. What he provides is a big target with outstanding speed and the toughness to venture over the middle. Since the Vols don’t currently have a player of that ilk in their offensive arsenal, Fowlkes addresses a primary need and also offers a very good fall back role.
That was an opportunity that appealed to the big senior, plus UT met his principle requirement.
“Well, it’s just going to be whether I like it or not,” he told Jonathan Jolley of GamecockAnthem.com. “It doesn’t matter the distance away from home or what size the school is. I’ve just got to like the school. If I visit a school and feel good about it, then I’ll go to that school.”
Fowlkes doesn’t figure to be a candidate to revisit the recruiting process, either.
“I don’t want to worry about [recruiting] and go about my school year,” he told Don Callahan. “I want to be able to commit to one school so I can focus on football and winning the state championship this year and not have to worry about all this recruiting stuff.”
Now Steven Fowlkes, who plans to graduate in December and enroll at UT in January, can play carefree.