Scott helps UT pluck linebacker Mitchell-Thornton from Stone Mountain, Ga.

Nigel Mitchell-Thornton

Nigel Mitchell-Thornton

Nigel Mitchell-Thornton signs with the Vols

Nigel Mitchell-Thornton

Nigel Mitchell-Thornton

Nigel Mitchell-Thornton is ready to break the mold.

No longer will Tennessee look at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., as the home of recruiting near misses. With Mitchell-Thornton’s commitment on Friday, there is reason to think the talent-rich area can be fertile ground for UT recruiters.

No longer does UT have to lament the losses of linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Perry Riley, who signed with LSU, and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, who signed with Florida, all in 2006.

Now, thanks to first-year receiver coach Latrell Scott, UT has achieved victory in what was once a land of disappointment.

“That’s what coach Scott was telling me, that I’m special because I’m one of the first guys from the area (to commit to UT),” Mitchell-Thornton said. “He said they used to always recruit around this area but no guys would ever come up to Tennessee.

“I really took that into consideration.”

Mitchell-Thornton’s mentality helped UT. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker didn’t feel obliged to stay close to home.

“A lot of people say I have a different personality,” he said. “I don’t always go with the crowd. I’m my own person.

“I have confidence in myself to be able to go to school and do the right things while I’m there … in order for me to be successful.”

Mitchell-Thornton registered 106 tackles, six sacks and 12 tackles for a loss last season. That sort of production helped him amass 22 scholarship offers. Before selecting the Vols, his finalists were Michigan, Stanford, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State.

“The first time Tennessee offered,” Mitchell-Thornton said, “we automatically put it on the top.”

Much of UT’s elevation to No. 1 had to do with Scott. The Vols weren’t the first to knock on Mitchell-Thornton’s door, but they were the loudest.

“He really came after me and kept it real the whole time,” Mitchell-Thornton said of Scott. “I really appreciate that.”

Mitchell-Thornton is UT’s 17th commitment of the 2009 class, another sign that the Vols have joined the era of light speed recruiting, in which commitments come fast and early.

“This is a new day,” Mitchell-Thornton said. “You don’t have much time to wait around.”

UT’s attentiveness to Mitchell-Thornton eliminated any possibility that he might wait around for a late scholarship offer from Georgia.

“They weren’t really recruiting me that hard,” he said. “They pretty much already had their linebacking core for this year.”

Mitchell-Thornton was UT’s second linebacker commitment on Friday, joining D.T. Shackelford of Austin High School in Decatur, Ala.

“That is great,” Mitchell-Thornton said. “Coach (Phillip) Fulmer said he had another linebacker that committed and that it was a great day.”

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Comments » 197

johnnyjackson#206090 writes:

Dang!!! Go Vols!!

Vols1998 writes:

Go Defense! these guys look like they can lay the wood!!!

TommyJack writes:

Props to CPF & staff.

1manningfan writes:

holy phooey i just read the other article on D.T. and then go back to the home page and BAM another LB commitment!!! This is great news keep it up coaches.

fishportion writes:

Big Mo baby...keep it up and Go Big Orange

alfrizzle097 writes:

Rankings anyone? I'm sure they'll expand the article soon.

thesavageorange writes:

I like this one alot.Expect some more soon.Everytime we pull one it's one less space, and the guys that like us know it.

voloffaith writes:

Last!!! Yippeeeee I figure keep postin' they keep committing. I know there is no relationship really, but wait for dog fan to say Richt didn't want him anyway.....thats ok if they want to wear Orange & White(in many combinations)!!

pammyvol1000 writes:

Double Dang!

rockitwithrespect writes:

isnt 210 a little light for a linebacker? hes got time to beef up though

99gator writes:

hope they scouted these guys real well.

seems like the staff has decided to grab the good players they can and not risk shooting for and missing the big fish that may be out there.

they are are out to an unbelievably fast start in terms of getting commitments, but i don't believe that the class is shaping up to be as good as some people think.

a lot of these kids were not pursued by the "big boys".

so, hopefully the staff saw what these kids had that others may have missed on and liked it. because, i feel like some of these commitments are grabbing bodies for the sake of grabbing bodies.

Volchaz writes:

keep it rollin, Vols. Its amazing to see how one commitment can make others react in fear of losing a spot.

alfrizzle097 writes:

I think sometimes we get the 5* prospects that aren't as coveted. Issues with ork ethic, intelligence, character, etc. that your Ohio States and USCs passed on. They have the body, but not the intangibles. That can lead to inflated recruiting rankings. If you get the 3* prospects that aren't particularly impressive as far as 40 times go but just make plays, you can end up a lot better off.


(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

pdhuff#552644 writes:

99gator 3:06 - good post.

Right or wrong, I always look to see who else has offered. While like everything else, not always a sure indicator, much more often than not everyone is after the "horses".

Well, congrats, young man. Have a great Orange career and be ready to be "coached up".

GreerVol22 writes:

Don't forget guys we usually can't get 5-8 of these commits admitted due to academics, and the staff is about 99% sure before they commit that prep school is a next step even though committing to the Vols.

Hopson2008 writes:

Naval - I think it was either Jabari Davis or Jamal Lewis that played for Stone Mountain.

There are a lot of big time linebackers still considering us. It's good that we go ahead and get these solid guys with good grades and character just in case.

99gator writes:


i am just making a generalization.

i, personnally, don't look at star ratings. i look at who else is trying to sign the kid.

these last two are classic examples. a kid from georgia that georgia did not want and a kid from alabama that alabama did not want (although the story indicates that auburn showed interest).

just trying to point out that tennessee is not (for the most part) beating out the big time programs on any of these kids. while they are getting commitments, it does not seem to be for the kid that "everyone" is a marlon brown (who i know is undecided and may very well go to tennessee)

i know there are a few exceptions. i am speaking generally here.

longtimefan writes:

Baaaaaaa! bleasegetwidofdablacksheep.Baaaaaaa!

voloffaith writes:

99gator I heard you chomping on Vol staff and thot I would remind you this is a VOL site we've allowed you to visit. Oh BTW is Florida one of the 'big boys' and we are not? We are taking a different approach due to various changes in the recruiting world that have to be taken into account. If players don't graduate it affects our score and that might reduce schollies we have to offer. Also guys that have grade issues have become more of a liability/headache to staff. We are pursuing young men of good character in addition to solid futbol players. Give me a 3-4 star with no baggage and solid work ethic over prima donna that is in for themselves anyday. We've seen our glitter boys(schaeffer and others) fizzle out due to poor character even though grace was extended and they trampled on it.

99 you are usually cordial so watch out on breaking bad on us on our site sir. Thank you 4 your thotful consideration. Keepem coming VOLS!!


(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

99gator writes:


tennessee is a big boy.....

and it seems like they are fighting with a lot of little boys over some of these recruits.

voloffaith writes:

Never mind you say what you will, but I'm confident our staff knows what they are doing.

99gator writes:


there is another factor i am not aware of either.....

how many is tennessee looking to sign?

99gator writes:


that's the first thing i said. hopefully, the staff scouted well.

pammyvol1000 writes:

Is he our 3rd or 4th commit from Ga? I see we are also are the list for their top 3&4 in state recruits.
If interested go to: to read the #1 ga ranking news.

Homer writes:

The notsoslimone is gonna be around as long as he wants to be. Too baaaaaaaaaaaaaad. I'm glaaaaaaaad!

VolGraduate writes:


michigan isn't a "big time program"? didn't florida lose to michigan not too long ago? where does that put florida? i assume not as a "big time program"

99gator writes:

did michigan offer?

i've seen kids do stuff with the hats on the table. they had a florida hat on the table and florida never made an offer and they never visited the campus.

but, yes, if michigan was recruiting the kid.....that would certainly qualify.

stanford, miss state, and georgia tech wouldn't (although an argument can be made for georgia tech)


Posted by VolGraduate on August 1, 2008 at 3:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)


michigan isn't a "big time program"? didn't florida lose to michigan not too long ago? where does that put florida? i assume not as a "big time program"

Didn't Tennessee get spanked by Alabama last season? I guess we need to include Louisiana-Monroe a heavyweight under your logic. Where does that put Tennessee?

iwastherein98 writes:


His point is obvious. This kid was recruited by big time programs other than Tennessee. What year did you graduate notsoslim??

iwastherein98 writes:

I'm just curious because you're on here posting bad things about Tennessee and trying to knock holes in the Tennessee recruits and fans.

As a "fan" I doubt you went to school there. I'm not a big supporter of Fulmer but you're being ridiculous. There is a difference between objective criticism and hatefulness. The hateful generally didn't go to school there, and instead, become "big fans"

Vol13 writes:

sjt and others.....Saw this on another board about scholarships. Don't know if it's valid or not.

"That's 17 commitments. Mathematically, we can sign 1 more recruit if everyone currently on scholarship (82 players - 15 departing seniors) comes back for 2009. If McCoy were to go pro, that would open up another slot. Fulmer says we'll sign 25 players. If Montari Hughes doesn't get in, then that's another ship for this year. But if he goes prep and we take him next year, then it's a wash as to how many we can sign in 2009. I'm not counting Brandon Warren yet either, so if you are playing along at home please add 1 for him if he gets in."

If that's right, then...

83 (with Warren) - 15 seniors = 68
68 + 17 signees for 2009 = 85

If we take 25-28, then we are going to have a whole lot of non-qualifiers or some current people on the team won't have a scholarship for 2009 (unlikely).

VolGraduate writes:

that wasn't my logic da. it was 99gators and he agreed. quit being a midget

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:


TommyJack writes:

Way too much acrimony on here.

99gator writes:


michigan being a "big boy" program had nothing to do with beating florida in the bowl game. they are the winningest program in the history of college football. that qualifies.

the "big boy" programs are the usual suspects you see hanging around the the top 25 or who have a history and tradition of winning.

miami and florida state are "big boy" programs even though at the moment.....they stink.

HighlanderVol writes:




Grew up in Knoxville for 20 years. Big Tennessee fan for all of them. Went to school to play college athletics 3 hours away. Saw the light after in 2002 and the next 6 years when Fulmer produced 4 top 10 recruiting classes with
0 top 10 finishes and 0 SEC championships in 10 years. Not trying to stir things up. Just not a fan of the big guy and what he brings to the school. Unfortunately, there are only a few of us out there that have taken off our orange sunglasses and seen what is really going on on the Hill.

voloffaith writes:

VolGrad where did the cabbage go to?

iwastherein98 writes:

Thanks for proving my point. You DID NOT go to school there.

Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of Fulmer either. However, UT is much larger than the football coach. The "big fans" that are not graduates are easy to spot because your loyalty is often easily swayed and you go from thoughtful criticism to hatred awfully quick.

That's not to say all non-graduates are that way but the ones that are that spiteful usually are.

thesavageorange writes:

Vol13 ,There will be some backcounting.Most think it will be beetween 28-30.

By the way, there is a chance that Hughes gets in.

MrBamSeydu writes:


VolGraduate writes:

99: agreed. i thought you were saying michigan wasn't in your opinion a top tiered team b/c you said no top tiered teams were recruiting the guy.

i'm not an astrologist so the recruiting stars don't matter to me.

also i don't judge players by the other schools recruiting him. there are too many variables for that to be consistent.

i think you have to evaluate game film and the quality of the opponents. i trust the UT coaches to evaluate the prospects film way more than i do scout or rivals

VolGraduate writes:

notsoslimone smells like cabbage

iwastherein98 writes:

Boiled cabbage.

thesavageorange writes:

It also looks like we're back in it for Raynard Randolph the 6'2 300lb DT from (MD).

We have moved back into his top 5 w/ NC ST,Maryland,Penn ST,& West VA.

VolGraduate writes:

and as we all know from yesterday that if you smells like cabbage there is a good chance you are a midget

voloffaith writes:

Did answer your question I think about being non-ut grad. Didn't say which school 3 hrs away but thats just about Nashville/MTSU or in KY. No big deal I'll sleep without knowing. He also showed his lack of so-calle knowledge when he said,"...and what he brings to the school(not his school again)." Well, he brings alot to the school. Mostly good with a sprinkle of 'seen as bad' for those who do not like him or his program.
Great statesman for the University of Tennessee! Yes, I want SEC and Natl titles like the masses, but I won't sacrifice integrity to get there. Have a nice day!

Oh please say you didn't type," not trying to stir things up." I'm strapped in my chair so I won't fall out after that one.

Lets try again, goodday 4 now !

HighlanderVol writes:

I have a ? did Jamal Lewis not play at Stone Mountain,

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