Hooker: Smith could be UT's best salesman for 2010

When coach Lane Kiffin went to secure the best in-state prospect in Tennessee, he quickly noticed a problem: He wasn't in the state.

Jacques Smith, who committed to UT on National Signing Day, was no where to be found when Kiffin visited Ooltewah High School. Trouble was afoot - Smith was flirting with the enemy just south of the border.

"I had taken a visit to Georgia that weekend for bowl practice," the 6-foot-3, 225-pound defensive end said. "While I was gone he (Kiffin) came to my high school to visit me. I wasn't there. I was in Athens."

Kiffin quickly put an end to that with a scholarship offer that Smith couldn't refuse. Smith bypassed the recruiting trail for the Tennessee express.

"I think if I got on board right now it would draw other people on board also," Smith said.

While Florida coach Urban Meyer is wondering if Smith has taken the NCAA's recruiting test, Smith is thinking about where he can be an evangelist for the Kiffin movement at UT. Smith said he'll even extol the virtues of UT to opponents on the field in the fall.

There's no high school football field across the state that is too sacred for such a sales pitch.

Smith already has a sales pitch for undecided prospects. With your future intact, enjoy your senior season.

"That was one of the reasons why I had a really good season last year, is because I didn't have to worry about anything," Smith said.

If I were Kiffin, I'd get Smith a Blackberry if NCAA rules would allow it. If not, a little black book (that could actually be orange) would help. Smith is the perfect pitchman for fellow prospects. He's really good and really well spoken.

"I think I can have a big impact on Tennessee recruiting," Smith said. "I think I can probably persuade a lot of people from the Tennessee area to come to Tennessee."<0x00A0>

Smith's impact can come in the spring and summer, long before prospects have hardened against various recruiters. Smith also has some celebrity to impress.

He's the first prospect in the state to commit to Kiffin for 2010 and he's the best prospect in the state.

Best of all for UT's recruiting efforts, Smith is almost as much a Kiffin fan as he is a UT fan. Despite growing up just down the road from Neyland Stadium, Smith wasn't a diehard UT fan growing up. But it didn't take him long to become a Kiffin fan.

Here are some of the in-state prospects Smith and Kiffin could soon be calling on:

n OL O.C. Brown from Manassas High in Memphis: The River City is always strong but this is an especially talented year. Brown is another example.

n TE Harrison Jones from Evangelical Christian School in Memphis: Jones already has some scholarship offers but could be waiting on an offer from Alabama, where his brother, Barrett Jones, is an offensive lineman.

n LB Justin Maclin from Ridgeway: Maclin could prove to be the gem of Memphis in 2010. He reportedly has offers from UT, Florida and LSU. UT coaches say they will own Memphis; Maclin is a must.

n WR Keiwone Malone from Mitchell High in Memphis: Malone committed to Alabama last week but that won't stop UT. He is likely the top receiver prospect in the state and possibly the best skill-position player.

n TB Orleans Opoku-Darkwa from Ensworth High in Nashville: The 5-10, 190-pounder has rushed for more than 3,300 yards in the last two seasons. He's almost as hard to tackle as his name is to pronounce.

n DL Travei Pryor from Austin-East: Perhaps a project, Pryor is big, athletic and has tremendous upside.

n DE Tyler Robinson from Alcoa: Here's a shocker: there's a talented defensive end in Blount County. The tradition continues.

n OL James Stone from Maplewood High in Nashville: UT needs offensive linemen for its 2010 class. The 6-5, 300-pounder may fit the bill.

n OL Zak Tait from Catholic: Tait suffered a devastating knee injury in 2007 and sat out the 2008 season. If he returns to form, he'll be one of the top prospects in the state.

n TB Eric Watson from Melrose High School in Memphis: Another Memphis prospect, Watson has transferred three time in high school.

Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He can be reached at hookerd@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 92

txvolsfan writes:

Go get'em Kiffin, your the man.
Can't wait for the '10 class. Many predict
our class to be the #1 class.
GO VOLS

CHS52VOL writes:

The early bird gets the worm! Sign 'em up, Coach.

smashmouth98 writes:

Get after them CLK. Lock down those borders!!!! Orange Swarm!!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to 1stAndGoal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Man the possibilites that that tee shirt would open up..

I can see it know. I know Gen Melon would wear one.

TD_4_UT writes:

Is there any doubt that Kiffin will have at least a top 5 class next year. GO KIFFIN! GO VOLS!

Ironcity writes:

Get Heaps when he visits next week and I think we could be so far ahead in recruiting by the end of the summer we could still have the number one class even if we lose a few along the way.

pammyvol1000 writes:

Does anybody know the whole story behind the Marlon Brown / Ed Orgeron disagreement?

volfan1967 writes:

in response to pammyvol1000:

Does anybody know the whole story behind the Marlon Brown / Ed Orgeron disagreement?

No. But I mean really why does it matter. They had a disagreement and he went to Georgia. No big deal. I mean I would have loved to see him in Orange but hey you win some you lose some.

bobbytodd writes:

I just wonder how the cities of Knoxville and Memphis can hate each other when they lock up for a basketball game but the kids are going to stand in line to play football for UT. I hope they do but..

volfan1967 writes:

in response to VineVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow your real classy there Timothy.

HtownVol writes:

Anyone know if we get Oku or Brown? Or at least any info? I hope we get a top 3 QB and another 4* to back him up. And we must get some great OL, DL and WRs. If we get all of those next year we will be SET!

BlueTickLady writes:

I had heard that the top 5 were:

Jacques Smith - DE
O.C. Brown - OL
James Stone - OL
Harrison Jones - TE
Justin Maclin - LB

I know some of you are very good at breaking down the roster by year and figuring out where we are "thin" for 2011. Are these positions of need or are these just the top 5 ranked players as of right now?

GerryOP writes:

It's exciting to be excited about Tennessee football! Phil buddy, you be well. Coach Kiffin ... YOU GO GUY!!!

jsm67vol writes:

in response to bobbytodd:

I just wonder how the cities of Knoxville and Memphis can hate each other when they lock up for a basketball game but the kids are going to stand in line to play football for UT. I hope they do but..

Agree with you on this bobbytodd. Having lived in both cities, it seems to me though basketball is a heated rivalry, UT doesn't see the football as being much of a rivalry game nearly as big as what the tigers see it, and the city of Memphis sees it. Lane and staff will have to work extra hard in Memphis to get top talent consistently there. But O has recruited well there so maybe he can lead the charge into the bluff city.

jobrando#216494 writes:

ORANGE SWARM is swarming

givehim6 writes:

Like CLK approach, get the vol name out there early so kids have a whole year to think it over.

Hounddog writes:

in response to VineVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am certain that the Long kid from Memphis Briarcrest and his family had a lot to do with Brown going to UGA. Long signed with UGA as well, his dad played at Memphis State and proably not a UT fan. The win is the pussycats were not mentioned for either kids.

utchris writes:

in response to pammyvol1000:

Does anybody know the whole story behind the Marlon Brown / Ed Orgeron disagreement?

It was really a difference of opinion and things got blown out of proportion. Kiffin and Brown spoke after signing day and wished each other luck.

As for next years potential players.....I would love to get all the top in state talent that we can, but I would be ok without Jones (ECS) and Watson (Melrose). Jones is not as good as his brother (@ Alabama) and Watson has to much baggage as compared to his talent level.

BlueTickLady writes:

Doldrums appear to have arrived. Dang. We still can hold out for Brown and Oku news but what then???

Anyone have inside scoop on the current team? Before the NSD frenzy started there were rumors about transfers to other teams, people getting kicked off, and the S&C Coach whipping them all into shape.

If we were to loose anyone to transfers when would that happen - is there a deadline? Any news about who is on the hot seat? Are the guy's getting buff and/or lean and mean?

Like I said doldrums have arrived so any info would be appreciated!

volroadwarrior writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to utchris:

It was really a difference of opinion and things got blown out of proportion. Kiffin and Brown spoke after signing day and wished each other luck.

As for next years potential players.....I would love to get all the top in state talent that we can, but I would be ok without Jones (ECS) and Watson (Melrose). Jones is not as good as his brother (@ Alabama) and Watson has to much baggage as compared to his talent level.

I haven't seen the ECS kid, but I agree about Watson. Call me crazy, but I don't think he has improved any since his freshman year at CBHS.

volfan1967 writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LDDFC912 writes:

in response to volfan1967:

Wow your real classy there Timothy.

And she wears Combat Boots!

volfan1967 writes:

in response to LDDFC912:

And she wears Combat Boots!

Thanks Will

LDDFC912 writes:

And Urban meyer has a Tattoo on his belly that says Mike Slive is my Boo!

volfan1967 writes:

in response to LDDFC912:

And Urban meyer has a Tattoo on his belly that says Mike Slive is my Boo!

Now thats fuuny. Mike Slive is Urban's biatch!!!!!!!!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to BlueTickLady:

I had heard that the top 5 were:

Jacques Smith - DE
O.C. Brown - OL
James Stone - OL
Harrison Jones - TE
Justin Maclin - LB

I know some of you are very good at breaking down the roster by year and figuring out where we are "thin" for 2011. Are these positions of need or are these just the top 5 ranked players as of right now?

I thought there was a qb in Memphis everyone was high on. Any info on that?

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to Scotty_Hopson32:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I live in suburb of Memphis now. Can tell you, Memphis in general hates UT. I think it is just pure envy over the FB program. They have nothing else here to back them up, so they rely on the BB program to keep UT in line, hoping the BB team will kick butt to make up for the weak football program.

This is just the way I see it, living here. I've been a UT fan since the 70's.

12packvolfan writes:

GO GET]EM lane

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

A P.S. to my last post.

My son is a senior at Mempho(as they call it here), but I am still Big Orange. Son's best friend goes to UT.

10volunteers98 writes:

in response to volfan1967:

No. But I mean really why does it matter. They had a disagreement and he went to Georgia. No big deal. I mean I would have loved to see him in Orange but hey you win some you lose some.

WHO`S MARLON BROWN?

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I live in suburb of Memphis now. Can tell you, Memphis in general hates UT. I think it is just pure envy over the FB program. They have nothing else here to back them up, so they rely on the BB program to keep UT in line, hoping the BB team will kick butt to make up for the weak football program.

This is just the way I see it, living here. I've been a UT fan since the 70's.

I was born and raised in Memphis, and you, sir, are exactly right.

dvhill100 writes:

While the "cheating" accusation was an embarrasment, the Pahokee comment was not smart. If you have a kid that has committed, and you and he know it, he lets you know he is faxing the letter, you would have to be an idiot to mess with it. Worst case, the family handles it like they did and fax from another location. I think LK/UT needs to mend fences on this one.

madvillevol writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I thought there was a qb in Memphis everyone was high on. Any info on that?

Barry Brunetti. He has a few offers including one from us but I don't know how good he is. I believe he will be one of the top 5 players in the state though.

BlueTickLady writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I thought there was a qb in Memphis everyone was high on. Any info on that?

I've heard that also. Can't remember his name. But also keep hearing from other posters that he is not a 5* and it seems like CLK is shooting for the stars on his first QB.

madvillevol writes:

in response to madvillevol:

Barry Brunetti. He has a few offers including one from us but I don't know how good he is. I believe he will be one of the top 5 players in the state though.

I take that back he does not have an offer from us according to rivals and scout. He's a dual threat QB so I don't know how that will fit CLK's style.

AllVol1 writes:

Must know something...anyone?...Oku?...Bryce?...coming to Knoxville?...Savage, where...are...you...need scoop. Must have...more running backs...Makes life easier for quarterbacks next year...

golfballs03 writes:

Jacques Smith! This guy sounds like a leader. Hopefully he will be leading our vicious D to a championship in his time here.

bobbytodd writes:

in response to volroadwarrior:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are a piece of trash. Picking on an old woman because she is black and a Christian. I didn't realize there was an Islamic KKK branch in Tennessee. Learn something new everyday.

rockytopspottedbirgdog writes:

There is a 6-foot-5, 320 pound tackle by the name of Jared Duke at Walker Valley in Cleveland. He is dominant run blocker with tons of upside. It will be interesting to see him go one on one with Jacquez Smith next year during the Walker Valler-Ooltewah game. It should be a great matchup. He is the best linemen that I saw last year and he is continually getting betting. Tennessee's staff would be wise to at least take a look at him.

Slystone writes:

When it comes to running backs I hope the Vols are looking at Marcus Lattimore out of Duncan,SC. This kid plays for Byrnes HS one of the nationally ranked teams in the country. This kid will be on everyones list. I'm sure GreerVol would agree.

http://recruiting.scout.com/2/821974....

ect1983 writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get a life

bobbytodd writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gruden can't coach college. He is a jerk to his own players (not just Florida). So he couldn't recruit. His own team turned on him.

Bass_Vol_1998 writes:

in response to bobbytodd:

You are a piece of trash. Picking on an old woman because she is black and a Christian. I didn't realize there was an Islamic KKK branch in Tennessee. Learn something new everyday.

your comment doesn't make sense to me. Islamic KKK?

coon a__ means cajun. It is a louisiana bayou term... not meant to be racist (maybe against the creole? like bobby bouchay)

bobbytodd writes:

in response to 1stAndGoal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Of course he wants to go to college. There are no NFL teams that want him. That just leaves college and high school unless you are planning on bringing back the XFL. You are trying to push buttons but I bet Kiffin is still at UT when Urban is at Notre Dame.

bobbytodd writes:

in response to Bass_Vol_1998:

your comment doesn't make sense to me. Islamic KKK?

coon a__ means cajun. It is a louisiana bayou term... not meant to be racist (maybe against the creole? like bobby bouchay)

If you say so but I have seen more than 1 fight over that term.

rockytopspottedbirgdog writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What a ridiculous pair of articles. Kiffin is off to a a very good start anyway and Tennessee football has excitement again. Gruden will end up at Florida or Notre Dame depending on what happens with Meyer.

west_tn_volfan writes:

in response to bobbytodd:

I just wonder how the cities of Knoxville and Memphis can hate each other when they lock up for a basketball game but the kids are going to stand in line to play football for UT. I hope they do but..

Lots of people in Memphis are UT football fans and Memphis basketball fans. Lots of split loyalties but UT has gotten alot of talent out of Memphis in the past and I think it will continue.

yeavols#228407 writes:

Walter (Gartorzz) broke up with me...he's not talking anymore...=(

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