As one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2010, tight end Brian Vogler is busy with the business of recruiting.
Last week, he attended Alabama’s junior day in Tuscaloosa before making the trip to Knoxville last weekend as Tennessee played host to nearly 100 junior prospects.
The two experiences, though, couldn’t have been much more different.
“Yeah, I would definitely say they’re two completely different types of junior days,” Vogler, a 6-foot-7 tight end from Brookstone School in Columbus, Ga., said in a telephone interview Monday.
Tennessee’s junior day took a divergent path when UT’s coaches brought the prospects into a large meeting room Saturday afternoon. As parents boarded buses for a tour of Neyland Stadium, UT coach Lane Kiffin spoke to the prospects before turning things over to UT’s special teams coaches.
“They started talking about how important special teams was to winning games, and next thing you know, one of the assistant special teams coaches is just ripping his shirt off like Superman,” Vogler said. “Some of the other coaches were ripping their shirts off. They did it three times, I think.”
At first, Vogler and the others were a bit confused.
“Nobody really knew how to respond so the coaches were like telling us to stand up,” Vogler said. “We were all standing up, and they told us, ‘We can do better than that.’ ”
As Vogler tells it, two or three coaches left the room and the lights were dimmed in the meeting room.
“They came running through the door and everybody left from their seats and came to the middle, starting jumping around, yelling ‘UT! UT!’ Then they said it was pretty good, but we probably could have done better,” he said. “So Coach O (recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron) goes up there to start talking and then about halfway through the coaches come busting through the door again, and everybody does the same thing.”
Vogler, who has about 14 scholarship offers including ones from Tennessee, LSU, Auburn and Alabama, said he and his fellow visitors warmed to UT’s enthusiasm.
“We didn’t know how to react (at first),” Vogler said. “We were all just standing there like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’ We all got pretty hyped up at the end of it.”
Vogler said about 15 UT players were in the room at the time, including All-American safety Eric Berry. By the end, those players were chanting with the recruits as well.
“When all that took place, all the coaches taking their shirts off and stuff, there were players in the back of the room with us, and they came running up there with us when we went up there,” Vogler said. “Eric Berry, he talked and I guess he ended up sticking around for most of the day because he was in there with us.”
Despite his initial shock at the move, Vogler, who hopes to commit before his senior season begins this fall, said the experience opened his eyes towards Tennessee.
“For me, I didn’t really know all that much about Tennessee,” Vogler said. “Them coming in with all these new coaches, you don’t really know what to expect. I would definitely say it’s beneficial for me going up to that junior day. I learned a lot about the school, I learned a lot about the coaches, got to meet some of the players.
“It was just really beneficial for me. I think that really helped them out a lot with that junior day, how it was run.”
That seemed to be the case for some other prospects who attended UT’s junior day, including defensive lineman Garrison Smith from Douglass High School in Atlanta.
“I loved it, especially when that coach ripped off his shirt like The Incredible Hulk,” Smith said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was high intensity. I enjoyed the whole day. They (Tennessee) definitely moved up on my list.”
Denzel McCoy, a defensive lineman from Northview High School, told the AJC he liked it as well.
“It was kind of crazy, but it was cool,” McCoy said. “Coach Kiffin is trying to get everyone fired up about Tennessee football, and it worked. He had everyone in that room fired up.”
And for Vogler, the connection extended beyond that high energy recruits-only meeting.
He spent time with tackles and tight ends coach James Cregg, who showed him film of how the Vols plan to use their tight ends and explained some of the Vols’ blocking techniques and routes tight ends would run.
Vogler left Knoxville with a comfort level around UT’s coaches, especially Cregg and Kiffin.
“I really like the coaches they have up there,” he said. “I got to talk to Coach Cregg, and I got to connect with him real well. I got to talk to some of the other coaches, and that was nice.
“Every now and then, Coach Kiffin would say something to me when we’d been walking or something. Around some other head coaches, I’m sort of tightened up and sort of afraid to talk. But I felt comfortable around him.”
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.