That's the hometown of David Jones, a 6-0, 195-pounder whose body is strong enough to bench-press 400-plus pounds and whose mind is strong enough to post a 3.8 grade-point average. He's also versatile enough to play a number of positions at the collegiate level.
“A lot of schools have told me running back,” said Jones, who attended the Vols' recent Senior Camp. “But some have told me linebacker. Tennessee sees me more as a linebacker or safety.”
Jones, who lists a 4.52 clocking in the 40-yard dash and a 405-pound bench press, is especially proud of the latter. No wonder. Not many guys can bench more than twice their body weight.
“I'm close to breaking the school record,” he noted.
Jones believes the strength and stamina he has developed lifting weights separates him from opponents, especially as the competition wears on.
“It helps me dominate in games,” he said. “In the fourth quarter, when everybody else is tired, I'm still going strong. That's where I get a lot of my yards.”
Jones says he rushed for 18 touchdowns and 1,349 yards on just 112 carries last fall, an eye-popping average of 12.0 yards per carry.
“I'm a flashy player,” he said. “I've got a lot of moves. I can make people miss in the open field but I can run between the tackles, too. Once I get to the second level, it's pretty much a touchdown.”
In spite of his offensive prowess, Jones may be even more impressive on defense. He says he recorded 120 tackles last fall on his way to all-state and Region 3-A defensive player of the year honors. He posted 6 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble en route to Defensive MVP honors in the Class A state title game last December, helping South Pittsburg complete a 15-0 season.
“On defense I get to the ball quick,” he said, “and I deliver a punch every time I hit.”
Jones says he'll be attending Auburn's camp this weekend and Alabama's camp later this month. He believes Vanderbilt and Auburn are showing the most interest in him, noting that “They write almost every day.”
Although he claims scholarship offers from Vanderbilt and Memphis, Jones remains very interested in Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn.
He thoroughly enjoyed the UT Senior camp, noting that “There were a lot of great athletes there that day. I had fun competing against all of the other talent. I'm hoping to watch a game (in Knoxville) this year.”
Jones said he especially liked the one-on-one drills at the Vol camp because “everybody was out there giving 100 percent.”
The prospect was impressed with Vol head man Phillip Fulmer, calling him “a great coach” and adding that “His camp is one of the best in the nation. I'd advise any of the young guys coming up to go to his camp.”
Jones also had fun working with Vol running backs coach Stan Drayton.
“He had us perform a lot of different drills I'm not used to seeing,” Jones said. “They were fun and challenging.”
Although he has not set any official visits at this time, Jones says one date already is marked on his fall calendar:
“I'll be at the Vanderbilt-South Carolina game,” he said, referring to a contest scheduled Sept. 4 in Nashville.
Given its lofty academic reputation and its proximity, Vandy might be a strong option for a young man like Jones who carries a 3.8 classroom average.
“I'm looking for the school that's real competitive athletically,” he said, “but academics is always No. 1.”