The talented trio of official visitors was just a small segment of the more than 20 prospects in Knoxville to check out the Vols last weekend.
Despite losing to Auburn on Saturday, Tennessee seemed to make progress with one: Tiger commitment LaDarius Owens, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker from Jess Lanier High School in Bessemer, Ala.
Owens said he still considers himself an Auburn commitment but gave the Vols a strong look at the behest of UT linebackers coach Lance Thompson.
“It was cool to see the coaches again,” said Owens, who also visited UT before the season. “Got to meet with them in the summer, so it was good to see them again.”
Owens said he was also impressed with the Peyton Manning Locker Room in Neyland Stadium, which was recently refurbished thanks to contributions from the former UT quarterback.
“It’s huge,” Owens said. “It was good to be in there and I got to meet some of the players.”
Owens also seems fond of Knoxville.
“It’s a cool city, a nice college town,” he said.
The ultimate draw for Owens is the collective experience of UT’s defensive coaching staff.
“If you look at the history (defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin has and coach Thompson has (coached) players like Dont’a Hightower, Rolando McClain down at Alabama. That’s a pretty good resume. You have to think about all those different types of stuff.”
Owens said he’s considering an official visit to Knoxville after his high school season so he can spend more time with UT’s coaches, especially Thompson. He said he’s also considering a trip to LSU to meet with defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Visitors: In addition to Owens, the Vols hosted the following undecided prospects for unofficial visits: tight end Davis Dudchock from Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, offensive lineman James Stone from Maplewood High School, cornerback Dale Trimble from Gadsden (Ala.) City High School, kicker Corey Acosta from Christian Brothers in Memphis and defensive ends Corey Crawford and Brandon Smith from Carver High School in Columbus, Ga.
As for the 2011 class, the Vols hosted receivers Daryl Collins and Anthony Swain from Gadsden City High School, quarterback Kiehl Frazier from Shiloh Christian High School in Springdale, Ark., receiver Edward Muldrow from South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga. and quarterback Stephen Rivers from Athens (Ala.) High School.
The Vols hosted 2012 quarterback prospect Jameis Winston from Hueytown (Ala.) High School.
Four UT commitments were in town as well: receiver Markeith Ambles from Henry County High School in McDonough, Ga., fullback Channing Fugate from Breathitt County High School in Jackson, Ky., 2011 tight end prospect Eric MacLain from Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville, N.C. and defensive end Jacques Smith from Ooltewah High School.
The Vols hosted three highly touted official visitors this weekend: safety Matt Elam from Dwyer High School in West Palm Beach, Fla., linebacker Jeff Luc from Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie, Fla. and safety Dietrich Riley from St. Francis High School in La Canada, Calif.