Lots of hits, misses for Vols in Memphis

Scenes from the 2009 UT homecoming parade

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The Tennessee-Memphis game is a chance for both teams to gain recruiting exposure.

For Memphis, the Tigers can present themselves as an alternative to prospects who couldn't garner offers from higher-profile schools.

For Tennessee, it's a chance for Memphis-area prospects to see the Vols in action against their hometown team.

UT coach Lane Kiffin said this week that today's game certainly holds significance in recruiting. However, dominating Memphis doesn't ensure the Vols of winning a championship.

In fact, the Vols' track record of prospects recently in Memphis is marginal at best.

A breakdown of the Memphis prospects signed by UT since 2000:


The Vols signed defensive tackle Mondre Dickerson from Melrose High. Dickerson failed to qualify academically and had to attend Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College. He would return.

The Vols also signed tight end Courtney Rogers from Fairley High. Rogers never panned out and transferred to Jackson State.


The Vols didn't sign a Memphis prospect in 2001.


Offensive lineman David Ligon from Christian Brothers proved to be a consistent contributor for UT.

Defensive tackle LaRon Harris from Kingsbury High was compared to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Warren Sapp. Those comparisons were inaccurate. His scholarship wasn't renewed in 2005 and he transferred to Oklahoma State.

Fullback Ruben Mayes from Ridgeway High was dismissed from UT and transferred to Grambling State.

Dickerson returned and contributed for two years but never seemed to reach his potential.


Tight end Brad Cottam from Evangelical Christian School never reached his potential at UT because of a string of injuries. Still, Cottam was a worthy prospect. He was selected in the third round of the NFL draft.


Ellix Wilson from Melrose High was a classic UT linebacker prospect under former coach Phillip Fulmer. Wilson was moved from the secondary to linebacker and had a productive career.


The Vols snared a big duo from East High with defensive tackle Dan Williams and offensive lineman Malcolm Rawls. Williams has grown into a disruptive, All-SEC-caliber lineman.

Rawls transferred to Memphis before making an impact. He'll play against the Vols today.

Tight end Jeff Cottam from Germantown signed with UT. Like his older brother, Brad Cottam, Jeff has had more than his fair share of injuries to deal with. Splitting time with Luke Stocker, Jeff has two receptions for 25 yards this season.

Linebacker Todd Cox from Harding Academy was an exciting prospect but never got into UT because of academic shortcomings. He then changed his mind and enrolled at Ole Miss after prep school.


The Vols didn't sign a Memphis prospect in 2006.


The Vols secured linebacker Chris Walker from Christian Brothers. Walker was quickly moved to defensive end and has grown into one of UT's best defenders.


The Vols signed linebacker Marlon Walls, who was originally from Memphis but moved to Olive Branch (Miss.) High. During a prep school stopover, Walls grew into a defensive tackle. He enrolled at UT in August and has shown flashes of potential.


The Vols signed linebacker Greg King from Melrose High. King quickly worked his way into the two-deep and has 10 tackles, one for a loss, an interception and a pass broken up.

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

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Comments » 19

VOLorado writes:

I'd like to see the list of those that we missed out on, for comparison

VOLinNYC writes:

So what you're saying is that recent talent has been better than previous prospects? So the early thesis of "marginal at best" should be changed to "the Memphis area has grown to be a positive note for UT and should continue to be a focus for the new staff"? Or am I just drunk? (which I am)

6MillionDollarPumpkin writes:

I would like to see a list of players from the Memphis area that went on to other programs and were successful. It is obvious to me that "FOOLMER" could have cared less about building a fence around Memphis.


Off topic, but saw these stats on Scout regarding our committ Matt Milton from his last playoff game:

Matt Milton - WR - Mascoutah (Ill.)
Midwest Ranking: #33
Result: 57-32 loss to Rochester
Had 199 yards rushing and two touchdowns and also returned a kickoff 90-yards for a touchdown

UT4ever writes:

Building a fence around Memphis is like putting one up around a prison, filled with barb wire and security systems for all the convicts!! No wonder these prospects are so unpredictable, they either end up all-SEC, major criminals, or both.........HOHOOHOHO!!!!

rpenland21#231616 writes:

"Defensive tackle LaRon Harris from Kingsbury High was compared to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Warren Sapp. THOSE COMPARISONS WERE INACCURATE."

Quite possibly the funniest thing Ive ever seen on this site.

chbradshaw writes:

Memphis is a 1-2 player a year recruiting location at best. Inner city kids have a tough time qualifying and usually have other issues as well. The northern Mississippi and east Shelby suburbs may produce a Vol-quality prospect. There may be Greg King-level player there every other year.

When John Calipari did well in basketball there - albeit via cheating - he did so with players from outside Memphis. That tells a lot.

FranklinCo_VOL writes:

Don't forget that historically, we lose Memphis recruits to Alabama and the two Mississippi schools. It isn't the U of Memphis is getting them.

StroVol writes:

Sounds like we need to donate time, schoolbooks, and a mentor program for a few years and then go recruit a smarter athlete that will see the wisdom of leaving.

volzcrushm writes:

in response to jmr68ut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

good point... plus, the fact that Memphis is so much closer to a lot of other SEC schools doesn't help. But, i think things may be changing to where we will be getting about a half a dozen of the best players each year from that area. GBO!...UT 54 um 13

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to FranklinCo_VOL:

Don't forget that historically, we lose Memphis recruits to Alabama and the two Mississippi schools. It isn't the U of Memphis is getting them.

Ole Miss signed one guy from memphis last year; a small rb with decent numbers..Georgia of all teams got the 2 best tenn. high school players last year;WR Brown and Austin Long the states best OL prospect; both from Memphis

dvols writes:

put up a sign in Memphis!

Cldvols1 writes:

Hmm oh well, I still think we'll be fine! GBO

DaveVol writes:

They are closer to Bama than they are to UT

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

With as many commits as UT already has, there won't be many more announcements. Kiff and staff can afford to be very selective and go after only the more elite players nationwide. Don't think there will be any Memphis players in this category.

volfaninutah writes:

in response to dvols:

put up a sign in Memphis!

why would you put up a sign? They can't read anyway. Put up billboard with a picture of a gun, that might bring them in!

volunteers4life writes:

You guys talking so negatively about their city could have a little to do with why they seem to choose alternative options frequently. Just saying...

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to volfaninutah:

why would you put up a sign? They can't read anyway. Put up billboard with a picture of a gun, that might bring them in!

That comment will certainly help with recruiting. Come on Vol fans, think before you speak and show a little class. You're not a Gator fan for Christ's sake.

537081 writes:

If a kid grows up in tennessee he should dream about playing for the vols. Anything less somebody is not doing their job. Start with the kids playing little leage football and go from there. Make them want it worse than anything. Thats how you build a team.

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