The offensive lineman from Brother Rice High School in Birmingham, Mich., committed to UT on Saturday.
Sawtelles grandfather, Darris McCord, played on the offensive and defensive lines at UT from 1952-54. McCord was an All-American and team captain in 1954 before a 13-year career for the NFLs Detroit Lions.
Darris gave UT coach Phillip Fulmer his verbal pledge with his grandfather, who had traveled from South Florida, standing by.
"That was a pretty big thing for me," Sawtelle said.
It was also a big thing for Sawtelles grandfather, who watched his grandson turn down Michigan, Michigan State, Arizona State, Nebraska and Southern Cal.
"I am two feet off the ground," McCord said. "This is a great day. Im so proud he committed to Tennessee. They got a good player. He got a good school. Its a good deal for both."
Being a former letterman, McCord had plenty of reason to steer his grandson to UT. But McCord said he didnt try to persuade Sawtelle, except once.
"The only time I really got adamant was about Alabama," McCord said with chuckle. "Alabama really wanted him bad. I said Think about that one.
"Ive got family in Tennessee. That aint going to work. Thats the only time I really used my influence.
McCord got to see first hand just how much football has changed in five decades when he watched the Orange and White Game on Saturday. McCord was 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds when he played for UT.
"They put me on the fat mans table," McCord said. "You couldnt weigh more than 220 and play lineman for Tennessee."
Now, UTs entire offensive weighs over 300 pounds. Sawtelle is 6-5 and 285 pounds.
"I was sitting on the bench today and I just couldnt believe the size of these guys," McCord said. "Theyre not only big but theyre fast."
Sawtelle said he wont take any other official visits.
"I made this call on my gut feeling," Sawtelle said. "I have a feeling that great things are going to come out of this program.
"Ive been warned that just because I committed, other teams are still going to come after me. Its nice to know I have a spot as a Volunteer, where I want to be."
The gut feeling likely came from growing up with a grandfather who was all Vol.
"Weve been close since the day he was born," McCord said.
McCord has had season tickets for UT football for years. Hes always given them to family members. Next year, when his grandson is a freshman, theyre off the market.
"They wont be for sale, no," McCord said.
Sawtelle is UTs fourth commitment of the 2007 class, joining athlete Anthony Anderson from Austin East, receiver Tyler Maples from Maryville and receiver Todd Campbell from Franklin.