Michael Palardy, ranked as the top kicking prospect in the nation by Scout.com, has committed to kick for Tennessee.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Palardy from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., made the announcement during a cookout at his home with family and friends on Thursday evening.
Much of Palardy’s decision was based on his visit to Knoxville for UT’s kicking camp in early June.
“When I went up to Tennessee, it speaks for itself,” said Palardy. “Knoxville is unbelievable. It’s like a home away from home.”
Palardy, a commitment for the 2010 signing class, said he was also impressed with UT coach Lane Kiffin and running backs/special teams coordinator Eddie Gran, who recruits the South Florida area.
“I love coach Kiffin and coach Gran, what they’re bringing to the table and what they’re doing with their team,” Palardy said.
He visited UT, Alabama, LSU and Florida. He held 13 scholarship offers.
“I’ve seen enough,” Palardy said. “I feel like it’s the right time. There’s no need to prolong it.”
The strong-legged Palardy kicked 98 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks, converted four-of-five field goals and made 76-of-78 extra points last season.
UT’s kickoff specialists Chad Cunningham and Britton Colquitt registered only four touchbacks in 46 attempts last season, although college kickers kick from five yards further back.
Palardy is the third of UT’s 12 commitments who can be credited to Gran. The longtime South Florida recruiter has secured commitments from two other Miami area prospects: offensive lineman Jose Jose and linebacker Ralph Williams.
UT has only one scholarship kicker on its roster: Daniel Lincoln. The junior was 10-of-18 in field goal attempt last season.
Palardy is teammates with several other UT prospects from St. Thomas Aquinas, including defensive backs Cody Riggs, Lamarcus Joyner and Keion Payne. Riggs is the younger brother of former UT tailback Gerald Riggs Jr.