Tennessee will apparently get the last official visit from Tuscaloosa County fullback LeRon McClain (6-1, 242, 4.59), rated No. 8 at his position nationally. McClain, who reopened the recruiting process after Dennis Franchione resigned at Alabama to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M, will visit UT on Jan. 31. He visits Alabama this weekend followed by visits to Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Bama is still the school to beat but Tennessee’s chances aren’t bad considering the overall competition and Alabama’s state of upheaval.
It also looks like UT will squeeze a visit out of the nation’s No. 8 safety prospect, Corey Campbell, of Houston, Texas. Campbell (6-2, 190, 4.4) has already visited Arkansas and Iowa and is believed to be favoring the Razorbacks. He visits Oklahoma this weekend, Tennessee on Jan. 17 and LSU on Jan. 24. Campbell appears impressionable and if the Vols get a visit they stand a strong shot at getting a commitment.
Tennessee and LSU appear to be the two teams that will go to the wire for No. 10 wideout Anthony Hill of Jacksonville, Fla. Hill (6-3, 200, 4.48), who caught three passes for 30 yards in the recent Florida-California all-star contest, will wrap up his visits with a trip to Florida State this weekend. He ruled out Florida after a Dec. 13 visit and indicates he’s likely headed out of state. If the Vols land Hill he will be the highest rated wide receiver to pick UT out of the talent rich Sunshine State since Alvin Harper (Frostproof, Fla.) signed with Tennessee in 1988.
Another top prospect from Florida the Vols are in contention with is No. 10 rated cornerback Kenny Scott of Daytona Beach. Scott (6-1, 180, 4.4) has already visited Notre Dame and Georgia Tech and will make his last three visits beginning with Florida State this weekend, followed by visits to Tennessee (Jan. 17) and Florida (Jan. 24). Scott doesn’t list a favorite and Tennessee’s need at corner will prove attractive, but beating the in-state schools may prove more difficult. However Scott has a good relationship with Tennessee assistant Jimmy Ray Stephens, who recruited the DB for Florida before accepting a job at Tennessee last spring.
As foretold on Inside Tennessee a week ago, San Diego QB Richard Kovalcheck has selected Arizona over UT. Distance was the inherent advantage the Vols couldn’t overcome in the chase for the strong-armed signal caller. The Vols will now turn to their second tier of QB prospects, although Michael Bush of Louisville Male High School remains a possibility. An outstanding athlete, who played quarterback for the first time this year, Bush prefers playing QB in college instead of wide receiver or safety. The opportunity at Tennessee may appeal to Bush, but Ohio State is believed to be the team to beat at this point. The Vols are scheduled to get Bush’s last official visit on Jan. 24 while the Buckeyes will entertain the all-American on Jan. 17. He has also made unofficial visits to watch the Buckeyes and Vols play.
Louisville, Kentucky and Wake Forest are also in the running for Bush. Complicating matters is the question of whether Bush will decide to focus on football or basketball in college rather than play both. Interestingly, the Vols are listed as a favorite by The Insiders for Bush the basketball player who is rated the nation’s No. 18 shooting guard and No. 14 quarterback prospect. Keep an eye on this one.
Tennessee may have a silent commitment from Marietta, Ga., quarterback Zach Richardson (6-5, 210, 4.8) who is scheduled to visit UT on Jan. 24. The big southpaw, rated No. 62 nationally, has great arm strength and surprising speed for a player his size. Richardson has tremendous upside and appears to be a perfect fit for Tennessee’s offensive system. He needs development and may be two years away from contributing significantly, but his potential makes him a strong future candidate for a starting role and he made great progress as a senior. The Vols have made a couple of in-home visits and coach Randy Sanders maintains close contact with Richardson, who took an unofficial visit to UT with his parents in December.
Auburn, Georgia, Miami and LSU are also known to have an interest in Richardson, but he has yet to set any other visits. Outside of a late JC signing or a transfer, Richardson appears the most likely QB signee for the Vols in the Class of 2003. Tennessee will intensify its efforts to sign a top signal caller in 2004.
There are several other ongoing developments in Tennessee recruiting that will be detailed here in coming days, including a couple of potential signees from Virginia and the latest on the junior college scene.