Linebacker Shackelford picks UT; 'cool man' Chavis was closer

Take a quick glance at Tennessee’s newest commitment - D.T. Shackelford - and you might be confused.

That’s D.T., as in “Deterrian”, not D.T. as in defensive tackle. Shackelford, you see, plays linebacker.

But don’t feel bad. You wouldn’t be the first to make that mistake.

“When Vanderbilt started recruiting me they tried to recruit me as a defensive tackle since my name was D.T.,” the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder said shortly after committing to UT on Friday morning. “I had to tell them ‘Nah, that’s my name.’ ”

Oops. So with the Commodores out of the running, Shackelford, who is from Austin High School in Decatur, Ala., considered offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Marshall, Stanford and South Carolina. LSU had also shown strong interest lately and was thought to be close to offering.

Nearby Alabama, thanks to a roster chock full of linebackers, showed little interest.

“They actually didn’t even recruit me, believe it or not,” Shackelford said. “A lot of people were shocked about that.”

Think that might be a motivating factor?

“Oh, man, it’s going to inspire me to play hard this year,” Shackelford said. “Just to know you’re in state and your own in-state school doesn’t even recruit you, that’s going to be a big motivation.

“And I know that Alabama-Tennessee game is a big rivalry game. That’s certainly on my mind.”

Shackelford is UT’s 16 verbal commitment for the 2009 signing class and appears solid in his choice.

“I’ve been liking Tennessee since I was little,” he said. “It’s kind of odd. My dad likes Tennessee a lot too.”

A pair of visits to Knoxville made the Vols even more attractive. Shackelford was first in town for a track meet, then attended UT’s football camp in June.

“I saw a lot of things I liked about it, not just because it was my favorite team growing up,” Shackelford said. “I felt it was the right fit for me.”

Then came the closer: UT defensive coordinator John Chavis, who has a long history of coaching linebackers into top-flight players. Once Chavis told Shackelford he could be a standout linebacker, the decision was all but made.

“That had a lot to do with it,” Shackelford said. “For a linebacker coach to actually tell you that, that means more (than a recruiter who coaches another position).”

Chavis was the lead recruiter for Shackelford from day one. Over time, the two built a strong bond.

“He’s a real cool man,” Shackelford said.

Mississippi State fell second to UT for Shackelford’s services. Auburn, just a three-hour drive away, was also strongly considered.

“I considered them because I had been going to their camps since I was little,” said Shackelford, who registered 112 tackles, seven sacks, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles last season.

UT, however, seemed the perfect fit.

“I just felt like it was time and that’s where I wanted to be,” said Shackelford. “It was a good feeling.”

Josh Ward contributed to this report.

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Comments » 87

jasonn1970 writes:

Wow, more good news on the recruiting front.

And I got first post!

juicetke#226846 writes:

What is his scout rating?

rockitwithrespect writes:

rusty shackelford, reporting for duty

BigMikeUT writes:

He's a 3-star on both Scouts and Rivals...

juicetke#226846 writes:

Thats a good video on that rivals link. I saw him line up as a line man couple of times which could be in his future. Looks like he has good potential at both positions.

juicetke#226846 writes:

I also see he was being recruited by Stanford and Vanderbilt which means he has to be smart which is another good sign.

voloffaith writes:

I got last....woohoooo...that is as of now. So, I will briefly enjoy my victory...oh yeah this would be a nice p-up if true. Lb will be thin next year so great opportunity for quality young men who play lb to come do so at Rocky Top U!

smokey90 writes:

D.T. had several offers. This may prompt another good LB to commit soon.

lomas98 writes:

I saw his name and was hoping we landed a DT Shackleford, meaning defensive tackle.

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:


You beat me to it. Way to go coaches!

cmoore7 writes:

We will feed him steaks. He will line down. How many spots does that leave? 8 is the # I'm thinking.

miamiVOL writes:

i also thought he was a Defensive Tackle at first, haha

givehim6 writes:

I like it, we seem to be getting some d. guys of late. GO VOLS!

jasonn1970 writes:

I'm glad they added To Tennessee to the title of this first it looked a little weird.

MrBamSeydu writes:

Not to rain on our parade, because I'm sure he'll turn out to be a decent player by his Jr or Sr season..... but......

even though we have 16 commits, the majority are 3 star or less. Should we really be THAT excited about all this??? I mean, CPF says stars don't matter but try telling that to USC, Florida, or LSU. I just think we're loading up with mid-level talent. Just one man's opinion.

Volchaz writes:

Welcome to the Volnation, D.T.!! You chose wisely.

diggerland17#448133 writes:

by the reports ive read...he has a very good work ethic and has 3.9 gpa..with speed..cant ask for much more now its up 2 the coaches 2 develope him!I think he is going 2 b a good 1...GO VOLS!!

thesavageorange writes:

tngeoff ,I have to agree.This team just has a different feel about it.I think leaders are emerging and the confidence and attitudes of the players seems very good.We will have to stay healthy on the d-line ,but if that happens I think we will again be in the hunt.

volboy81#211803 writes:

Its nice to know there are a FEW smart ones south of the border!

volinky writes:

Hey savage, what is different about this coaching staff that is attracting so many recruits to commit this early? I am thrilled, but there must be something very different in the air.

spvol writes:

He's from Alabama, but chose Tennessee? Must not have the criminal record to be recruited by Saban.

thesavageorange writes:

volinky ,energy.Clawson,Drayton, & Scott are relentless.We lost 1 Troop and got 3 in return.Slade has been very good so far as well.Every recruit so far has mentioned the family atmosphere as well.That has a lot to do w/ the relationships of the players.That's why I agreed w/ geoff.If this team takes the work ethic and attitude they've had since Feb into the fall, this team could be very good.

pammyvol1000 writes:

Do stars really matter that much? Isn't it about playing with heart and giving it your all.. I know this sounds like something out of "Remember the Titans", but it's true!!

IBleedOrange444 writes:

Here's an encouraging excerpt from an interview with his coach from the Rivals article on D.T. for those of you who don't have access:

He has a 3.96 gpa and just does everything the right way.

I give my players the last week of July off before we start two a days so they were off this week. I came to work yesterday at 6:45am and when I pull into the parking lot there is D.T. pulling tires working out. That's the kind of kid he is. He was the only one out here on our off week."

It also said that he had offers from a bevy of SEC schools and that LSU wanted him as a Fullback. He's certainly got the build to be a fullback, but he wants to play defense.

Welcome to the VolNation D.T. It is good to have you!

Vol13 writes:

Not to rain on the parade either, but some of you need to go to rivals or scout and view the commits for our sister SEC schools. For all our renewed vigor and zeal, we are still on pace to finish 6th in the SEC in recruiting if not worse than that.

Stars don't matter when we have a Top 5 class full of 4 and 5 stars.

MrBamSeydu writes:

ButchIsBack: Yeah, but you're sampling 1 draft and only the top 15 picks. You'd need to go back at least 5 years and, say, the first 3 rounds to prove anything to me.

I can tell you, without even wasting time to look up all the stats, that the teams who've been winning national championships finish with more 4 and 5 star recruits than everyone else... including us.

rllipscomb#212376 writes:

The rankings are at greatly influenced by performance at camps and how much of the camp information gets disseminated. The other mitigating factor is where players will play in college and pros versus high school.

This guy appears to have average speed for a MLB. Not bad but average. But that would be very good speed for a DE.

Jarrod Mayo was an average RB in high school. Fulmer and Chavis saw something in him that said LB.

There was a very average high school TE we recuited in the early 90s (soory I forget his name. We redshirted him and then moved him to DE. By his third year, he bulked up and was moved to DT. He was drafted in the second (I think) round.

The star ratings are important, but only go so far.

What I watch is whether Fulmer is getting the players he wants because he usually wants the right players. Even his worst detractors would have to admit that Fulmer has a good eye for talent, as well as closing the deal.

Our recent talent problems has not been in recruiting. Our problem has been a rise in back door losses through grades and disciplinary issues.

Check out the number number of players still on the team from the No. 1 recruiting class of Winter 2005 (Crompton, et. al.). That is why our talent level is up and why we are only starting 3 sophomores, while FL starts 10 and UGA starts 8.

It is also why we could only sign 18 players last year, and partially explains why we had a "down year".

voloffaith writes:

Vol13 you seem to be relentless in sending showers from article to article. Yep some of these youngins are threes and if they have a great senior campaign guess what happens to them thar numbers.....amazing they go up. Try to stay away from half empty glasses and find one that is half full.
You know I really don't care too much for what the competition is doing ,but I like the quality character athletes we are pursuing these days. GO VOLS!!!

1manningfan writes:

welocome to Rocky Top D.T. keep up the good work coaches your doing a great job!

cobbwebb writes:

bamawoman , dont hate . just remember the name DT baby, when this guy is eating your qb for lunch in 2 - 3 yrs. by the way bammer is a filthy bunch of cheating bums!!! YOU BROUGHT IT ON YOURSELF CHEATERS!!! GO VOLS!!!!!

Bass_Vol_1998 writes:

savage- do we only recruit from the pool of players who have not committed, or do we continue to go after the big timers after a verbal to somewhere else? It seems that you could know a lot more about a guy after his senior year.

Vol13 writes:


I can only think of that happening with 3 star's we had prior to their senior year a handful of times. B.J. Coleman being one. Nice way to try and spin this into being something positive though. Some of them could also dog it and try not to get hurt as well, since they have already secured a full ride offer. Ever consider that?

It's funny how back when we used to be a hot team on the recruiting trail everyone made sure to mention details about so and so who committed being:

A 4 Star
A 5 Star
The #1 RB in the nation
A Top 10 Player at his position

But now that we are hardly ever in on those type of players anymore we've resorted to these:

A really good kid
Made the honor roll
Really loves UT
Maybe he'll grow into a really good player
Wanted to be here when some 5* did not

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

cobbwebb writes:

TRUTH ? Bammer knows nothing about truth. Face the truth and fess up and admit your sorry program likes to cheat er , im sorry use a competitive edge, like paying players. GO VOLS !!!!!

thesavageorange writes:

Vol13 ,I'm sorry but you are flat wrong in your 2:12 post.The only 2 teams w/ more 4* players than UT in the SEC are UGA & LSU.LSU is coming of a MNC & the state of Georgia was loaded w/ talent this yr so those 2 are suspected.If we land 5*Brown,5*Moses,4*Askew, & 4*White as I expect ,we will be on par w/ LSU & GEorgia.

Not to mention we are in the final 2 for 4* Telfort & 4* Hicks.4* McGee also said he is making 1 final trip to UT to make sure he has made the right decision.That bodes well IMO.I understand what you mean, just respectfully disagreeing.

Bass_Vol_1998 ,we will back off of anyone commited.The staff must now babysit the ones already on board.

cobbwebb writes:

sjt Like most bammer fans , he has no point!

volguy41nlouisiana writes:

Is it me or do i view Florida fans (tolerable) but just arrogant BAMMERS....(downright dirty....mullet wearing ....sister kissing....lawnmower riding to work....outside restroom using....tank top sporting......cutoff jean wearing...Saban wannabe nut of hands....BAMA lovers....exit stage left please....AYE AYE

cobbwebb writes:

bamaman , i think when you said Saban didnt want him, you meant to say your rogue boosters didnt want to pay him! GO VOLS!!!!!

Vol13 writes:


We will finish 6th in the SEC at best. If I am wrong when the dust settles, then I'll admit it and give credit where due. Go look at Mississippi State's class if you haven't. I think you'll be surprised. BTW, I have Florida with 5 4*'s at this moment for 2009 (rivals).

cobbwebb writes:


volguy41nlouisiana writes:

Thats one hand from bamablows

volguy41nlouisiana writes:

and BAMAidiot....3of the last 6? that means you lost 3 also ....MORON

bige14#207337 writes:

Hey bamaman, I am a hardcore volfan but not obtuse. I think despite his public and media persona, Saban has something going that makes him a great recruiter, clearly. I think just as at LSU, his main priority is to get the in-state kids he really wants, so my guess is had this kid been what Saban felt was a great one, he'd have certainly gone after him, but with the numbers on campus and committed at LB, he decided not to pursue him. ON an unrelated note, I am curious, do the majority of Tide fans you know acknowledge that there was some dirty rotten stuff going on with the program in the Dubose years, or do they think it was all trumped up by Fulmer and the NCAA? I have a good friend who is a diehard Tide fan living up here, and he says he hates Fulmer b/c he was the main whistle blower, but the program was cheating and had it coming. What say you? Just curious b/c it all seemed to resurface with the subpoena fiasco at media days and I wonder what the avg bama fan in bama thinks.

cobbwebb writes:

to put it mildly, gator fans are like a fart, they stink but eventually go away, bammer fans are like a bad case of herpes , they are really nasty and never go away!

volguy41nlouisiana writes:

Bamablows......Nail on the Head.....Bingooooooooooo

thesavageorange writes:

Vol13 ,and we have 5 as well(rivals), and scout also has Herbert a 4*.Just don't see 6th.That would put us one spot better than we were last yr.

thesavageorange writes:

sjt18, around 30.

TommyJack writes:

Ignore the bamalopers.

cobbwebb writes:

do you think this hurts us with telfort? also any news on moses, hicks , or any other recruits

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