The 6-foot-2, 175-pound wide receiver/defensive back from Maryville High School committed to UT for its 2007 football class after the Vols' practice Tuesday afternoon.
"It's pretty awesome," Maples said of the decision. "It's amazing committing to UT. It's a dream."
Maples said he cancelled scheduled visits to Alabama and Auburn. South Carolina also had shown early interest. In the end, the UT decision was an easy one.
"There wasn't really much thinking," Maples said. "I was in basketball when they offered. I didn't have much time to think about it (until now)."
Maples, a junior at Maryville, is the second commitment of UT's 2007 class. Both are from the Knoxville area. Wide receiver/defensive back Anthony Anderson of Austin East committed to UT in February.
With his college decision behind him, Maples can now focus on defending Maryville's state crown. The Rebels have won four of the past five 4A championships.
"I know I have to be a good leader," Maples said. "I'm going to have to work even harder in the offseason. I'm going to be a marked man. My senior season is going to be my toughest season.
"I'm fully focused on Tennessee and my senior year now."
Maryville coach George Quarles said he hopes that is the case.
"I hope it helps him a lot," Quarles said. "I told him I want him to be a great Maryville player before he goes to college. I hope this takes a lot pressure off him."
Maples had a friend in the recruiting process. His brother, Ryan Maples, committed to Tusculum in 2000.
"It definitely helped a lot," the younger Maples said of the influence.
Tyler Maples said he'd like to play wide receiver at UT but is open to other possibilities.
"I see myself as a wide receiver," Maples said. "But if I have to play safety or cornerback, I'm willing to help the team out however I can."
Maples hopes the early commitment will limit other schools' interest in him this fall. Chances are, other schools still will call.
"Even if they do, they know where I'm headed," Maples said. "I don't think it will be that hard to stay away from other schools."