Tennessee would have had a successful recruiting weekend had its football camp ended on Friday. But Saturday’s final day of camp produced three more commitments, giving UT five players in three days.
Aubrey Phillips, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound lineman from Olive Branch (Miss.) High School, and Nyshier Oliver, a 5-11, 185 pound athlete from St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey City, N.J., were the first to make their pledge on Saturday. JerQuari Schofield, a 6-6, 298-pound offensive lineman from South Aiken High in Aiken, S.C., became No. 3 later that evening.
The latest trio joins highly touted tailback Jarvis Giles from Gaither High in Tampa, Fla., and Rhea County lineman Kevin Revis as UT’s newest set of commitments. The sudden influx gives UT nine commitments for the 2009 class.
Phillips chose UT over Florida State, Duke, Penn State, Arkansas and Alabama. Phillips attended Booker T. Washington in Memphis until last year before moving to Olive Branch.
“It’s stress free now,” Phillips said of his UT commitment. “It feels good.”
Oliver chose UT over Michigan, Ohio State, Boston College, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina.
“I’m confident in my decision,” he said. “It was a great decision. I just let everything sit in my mind and marinate, to see if this is the place I wanted to be. I let it sit in my mind for a month, then I made a decision.”
Schofield chose UT over offers from Gardner Webb and Charleston Southern.
“I felt like it was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Schofield said.
While Phillips and Oliver came to UT with a scholarship offer, Schofield’s came on Thursday, the first day of the junior camp.
“All I really did was hustle, work hard and just pay attention,” Schofield said.
After two days of contemplation, Schofield informed UT coaches of his decision.
Phillips and Oliver certainly have some versatility in their game. Oliver said he’d like his first shot to be at cornerback, but could also play safety. Phillips could play defensive or offensive tackle.
“I really don’t care,” Phillips said. “I just want to play on Saturday.”
Said Oliver, “It really doesn’t matter, but I’m projected as a corner down here.”
All of Saturday’s commitments cited UT’s coaches as reasons why they decided this weekend.
“Great area. Great people. I love Coach (Phillip) Fulmer and (offensive line) coach (Greg) Adkins,” Schofield said.
Oliver was also impressed with Fulmer — and secondary coach Larry Slade.
“We mesh well,” he said. “They remind me of my high school coaches.”
Phillips had grown to know UT’s offensive coaching staff last fall. When three members of that group left for Duke and receivers coach Trooper Taylor was hired by Oklahoma State, Phillips wasn’t sure what to expect out of the replacements.
“I thought they wouldn’t even know me when I came in, but they knew me already,” Phillips said. “That was good to see.
“… I can get along with all the coaching staff. They’re friendly. The other coaches (at other schools), they don’t really pay attention to me. The coaches at Tennessee are very down to earth.”
At 6-6, Phillips was one of the most imposing figures on UT’s campus this week.
“I’m fast for my size but I’m not as strong as I should be,” Phillips said. “The first three years (in high school), they didn’t have a weight program. With a weight program, I should get stronger.”
UT is known as a school that closes strong in recruiting, picking up commitments in the fall and winter. That certainly wasn’t the case this week.
“I think it’s a good vibe,” Oliver said. “We don’t know each other personally yet, but we just mesh well here.”