Greg Adkins can recruit near or far.
The Tennessee offensive line coach picked up two commitments for the Vols on Saturday from receiver Zach Rogers of David Lipscomb High School and defensive tackle Edwin Herbert of City College of San Francisco.
While most believed the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Rogers would end up with the Vols, Herbert was much more of a surprise.
Physically, Herbert is quite an addition. The 6-3, 290-pound Herbert has run the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and has bench pressed 225 pounds 35 times.
Herbert, who registered 48 tackles, three for a loss and six sacks last season in junior college, was being recruited by Nebraska, Wisconsin, Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and San Diego State. UT, Nebraska and San Diego State were the first to offer a scholarship.
“My dream has always been to play in the SEC,” Herbert said. “Also, coming from City College, players have a lot of success at Tennessee.
“It felt right.”
It should. Two former City College stars went on to star at UT. Offensive lineman Albert Toeaina and safety Gibril Wilson started the majority of two seasons for UT.
Linebacker Gerald Williams, who originally signed with Vols in 2005 and is enrolled at UT, was Herbert's teammate last season at City College.
"That was a part of it," Herbert said. "We're good friends."
Herbert originally signed to play for Army out of Armijo High School in Fairfield, Calif. During a stopover at a military prep school, Herbert wasn’t too sure he was suited to the military lifestyle. After former coach Bobby Ross left West Point, Herbert was sure he needed to seek a different path.
Herbert said one of his primary reasons for committing to UT was the chance to start immediately.
“I’m not cocky but I’m confident in my ability,” said Herbert, who will enroll in January and have two years of eligibility remaining. “I’m going to go in there and compete. The one thing I can say is no one ever works harder than me.”
Herbert was sure to gain even more college interest following an offseason in which he’s focused on his physique. Herbert ballooned to 310 pounds from 300 after last season. Then, he dropped to 275 by March. Now, he’s back at 290 thanks to some newly added muscle.
Physical ability, as Herbert tells it, is just part of his game.
“I’m a real aggressive player,” said Herbert, a self described run stopper with room to improve in pass rushing. “I fire off the ball real quick. I have a hit-you-in-the-mouth type of mentality.”
While Herbert relies on hitting, Rogers relies on running. With his college decision behind him, Rogers can focus on running towards another high school title for David Lipscomb, which won the Class AAA title in 2008.
“The distraction that comes with all the recruiting, it can get in the way of the team aspect,” said Rogers, whose 4.47 in the 40-yard dash was the fastest laser timed run at the Nike camp in Athens, Ga., this spring.
Rogers, who has run the 40 in less than 4.4 seconds on a handheld watch, said Auburn finished second for his services. Rogers received offers from Vanderbilt, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Duke and Oklahoma State.
Rogers admitted that the Vols had fallen at times in his list because of UT’s offseason coaching changes. That was something he was determined to remedy.
“I felt that it was my duty to go up there this summer and really get to know them,” Rogers said of UT’s new coaches. “That’s what I did.”
Rogers said playing next to his brother, junior receiver Austin Rogers, was also a huge factor.
“I know it’s going to make my parents as proud as anything to see their sons lined up together for Tennessee,” Rogers said.
Zach Rogers was the constant target of rumors from December to as late as last week. Many said it was just a matter of time until he committed to UT, if he hadn’t done so already.
“Well, I’d say you’re right now,” Rogers said with a chuckle. “People have been saying that since I started being recruited. They’d like to see me and my brother playing together.
“I wasn’t so sure at times.”
Rogers said he’s willing to redshirt his freshman season, but only if absolutely necessary. Zach and Austin Rogers have never played together. The 2009 season will be their first opportunity.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to play as a freshman,” Zach Rogers said.
With Rogers and Herbert, UT has 15 commitments for the 2009 signing class, which figures to be comprised of approximately 25 members. That won’t take long, especially if Adkins continues his run of success.
“He’s a real, real nice guy,” Herbert said. “He always makes me feel comfortable, makes me feel relaxed talking to him.
“He’s never pressed me at all.”