Best of the O-linemen

Best of the O-linemen

Tennessee has some holes to fill in its offensive line, and there were several young men at today's UT camp who appear capable of filling them.

One guy who really caught my eye was Zach Fulton, a 6-5, 315-pound road grader from Flossmoor, Ill. Rated a 3-star prospect and America's No. 41 offensive tackle prospect by Scout.com, he exhibited good feet and excellent technique. No wonder. His older brother, Xavier, was the fifth-round pick of the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs six weeks ago after a standout career at the University of Illinois.

In one pass-protection drill, Fulton showed good lateral movement and plenty of pop in his punch, actually knocking a hard-charging defensive end onto his back with one mighty shove. InsideTennessee.com's James Bryant reports that Tennessee coaches were so impressed that they have offered Fulton a scholarship based on today's camp performance. Fulton reportedly got previous offers from Illinois and Indiana.

Obviously, Nashville's James Stone was another impressive O-lineman. A 4-star recruit, he is rated No. 10 among America's offensive tackle prospects by Scout.com. Although the 6-5, 280-pounder from Maplewood had some trouble with speed rushers today – as did every other offensive lineman in camp – he exhibited the raw tools that make him one of the country's premier O-line prospects.

Zak Tait of Knox Catholic was projected to be one of the better blockers in the 2009 signing class until he tore up a knee. Now healed, he showed no ill effects in today's camp. The 6-4, 315-pounder is rated the No. 47 guard prospect by Scout.com.

Four guys who are flying under the radar also caught my attention – Marquis Pair of Sumter, S.C., Jake Smith of Jacksonville, Alabama; Cameron Clemmons of Lebanon and Jared Duke of Clarkston.

Pair, a 6-5, 260-pounder, needs to add 30-40 pounds but has terrific feet and agility. UT pulled one O-tackle (JerQuari Schofield) out of South Carolina in its 2009 signing class. Marquis could give the Vols a Palmetto State Pair.

Smith is a 6-5, 315-pounder with a combative nature. He doesn't have the quickest feet on the planet, so he'll probably play guard or center in college. Still, he showed considerable strength and toughness in the drill work.

Clemmons, son of former Vol Tony Clemmons, is a 6-7, 260-pounder from Wilson Central High. Like Pair, he needs to add 30-40 pounds before he's ready for the rigors of college ball. Rated a 2-star prospect by Scout.com, he already has picked up an offer from Stanford, thanks in part to a 4.2 grade-point average.

Duke, who attends Walker Valley High, is an imposing specimen at 6-6 and 336 pounds. Naturally, one of his suitors is Auburn, which seems drawn to towering linemen (see Marcus McNeill). Vanderbilt also is said to be in hot pursuit of the massive man/child.

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