Lane Kiffin has said he wants Tennessee's football program to emulate Alabama.
Toughness, discipline and winning are the virtues the first-year UT coach is striving for. However, Kiffin won't necessarily be after the same defensive prospects who Alabama coach Nick Saban is pursuing.
Alabama's 3-4 scheme lends itself to bigger linebackers and defensive linemen. UT's 4-3 defense relies more on speed.
"I think they're definitely two different types of systems," linebackers coach Lance Thompson said on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page. "Monte (Kiffin) has had great success with the 4-3 system. He's the dad-gum architect of it.
"You can get by with the more undersized defensive linemen and linebackers. There's more of an emphasis on speed and quickness. (Alabama) Coach (Nick) Saban's philosophy is more of big, strong, 'We're going to pound you and wear you down in the fourth quarter.'
". . . It's a contrast in styles but they can both get it done. It's just a matter of getting the right guys and getting kids to play in the system the way it's supposed to be played in."
When the Vols hit the field today in Tuscaloosa (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) to take on the Crimson Tide, you'll be able to notice the difference. Alabama's starting four linebackers weigh 268 pounds. UT's three linebackers average 220 pounds.
Alabama's three defensive line starters average 316 pounds. UT's four linemen average 265 pounds.
Thompson, who coached under Saban for two years at Alabama, isn't afraid to take on the Crimson Tide in recruiting. He feels both schools have plenty to sell.
"The University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee, we're similar in our traditions and histories that we're going to be able to recruit the caliber of athlete that should be at these schools," Thompson said.
With all that tradition and proximity to one another, UT and Alabama will face off in recruiting frequently.
Many of those battles will take place in Alabama. Here are some of the prospects UT is recruiting from Alabama:
n Desmond Brown: He was one of the top performers in UT's June football camp. The 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back from Cherokee High School in Centre seemed impressed with the Vols, then committed to Clemson.
n Pee Wee Cobb: UT continues to evaluate Cobb, a 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback from Auburn High. Florida and UAB reportedly have offered Cobb a scholarship.
n Chris Davis: An athlete from Woodlawn High in Birmingham, Davis has flown under the radar. That means UT could be in good position if it decides to offer the 5-11, 175-pounder.
n Joey Howe: If the Vols feel they need another high school quarterback in the 2010 class, Howe could be a possibility. The 6-5, 210-pounder from Russellville High School has yet to receive a scholarship offer.
n Martaze Jackson: He has a scholarship offer from Arkansas. The 6-2, 210-pound speed rusher from Demopolis High School could grow into a solid prospect.
n C.J. Mosley: The 6-2, 215-pounder from Theodore High is considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the region. The Vols will have to best Alabama and Auburn, which won't be easy.
n Ladarius Owens: The 6-2, 225-pounder from Jess Lanier in Bessemer also is considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the region. He has been committed to Auburn since September, but UT won't give up.
n Solomon Patton: He is committed to Florida but UT is still in pursuit of the 5-10, 175-pound receiver from Murphy High School in Mobile.
n Dale Trimble: The 5-10, 175-pound cornerback from Gadsden City High was a top performer at UT's camp in June and seemed close to committing to be a Vol. However, Trimble has waited, gathered some scholarships and may be waiting on Alabama's final evaluation.
Dave Hooker covers Tennessee football recruiting. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.