SAN ANTONIO Organizers of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl made
Tennessee wait and wait for the most highly anticipated
announcement of the recruiting season.
Finally, after almost four complete quarters of the nationally
televised all-star football game Saturday afternoon, Chris Donald of
Huntingdon High School ended months of speculation when the 6-foot-3,
220-pound linebacker committed to UT over Notre Dame.
"Im happy to get it off my chest," Donald, the states
No. 1 prospect according to the News Sentinel, said after the game.
"Im just overwhelmed right now."
The good news for the Vols started in the second quarter when
Cincinnati LaSalle defensive lineman Ben Martin picked UT over Ohio
State, Florida and Notre Dame.
"After my visit it just felt like home for me," the 6-5, 255-pound
Martin said. "It was a great place. I had to go with my gut on this
Even when word began to leak late Friday that Martin had picked UT,
it still seemed improbable the Vols would pull a star prospect away
from Ohio State just days before the Buckeyes play for BCS national
"Theyre going to have a few words for me, but I dont
really care," Martin said of returning home to Buckeye fans. "Its
my choice, not theirs."
Donald and Martin first contemplated playing together as Vols during
an official visit. What is so surprising is that the official visit
wasnt in Knoxville.
"We met at Notre Dame but were going to Tennessee," Martin
said. "It was a good ride."
Donald said being a lifelong UT fan contributed to his choice, but
there were other factors as well, such as playing under defensive
coordinator John Chavis, who also coaches linebackers.
"It was the biggest factor, I think," Donald said. "Hes going
to teach me what to do and teach me the right ways to do it. I just
have to go and perform for him."
The news wasnt all positive for UT. Despite showing interest
in joining the Vols earlier this week, defensive lineman Luther Davis
from Monroe, La., committed to LSU.
"The main thing was that I have former teammates there already," the
6-4, 255-pound Davis said. "Im friends with almost everyone
Davis had talked about taking official visits later this month,
including one to UT. Thats no longer the plan.
"Im done for right now," Davis said.
Martin and Donald both came here knowing their future plans.
"I made my decision on my own," Martin said, "then I talked to Chris
and he said he was going to Tennessee too."
Securing Donald ends a two-year streak of losing the states
top player. The Vols lost out a year ago when tight end/defensive end
Brandon Warren of Alcoa picked Florida State (although Chattanooga
Baylor offensive lineman Jacques McClendon, the No. 2 player, chose
UT). In 2005, receiver Patrick Turner of Nashville Goodpasture selected
Southern Cal and offensive lineman Michael Oher of Memphis Briarcrest
Christian chose Ole Miss.
"I just felt all the love from the fans and the coaches are great,"
Donald said. "I cant wait to play for Coach Chavis and Coach
Tennessee has 28 commitments for the 2007 signing class. National
Signing Day is Feb. 7.