SAN ANTONIO — Arie Kouandjio has a lot of work to do and that has nothing to with Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The offensive lineman from DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., will take three official visits before he announces his college destination Feb. 3 on National Signing Day.
Kouandjio will visit Alabama on Jan. 16 and Miami on Jan. 22. Tennessee will host the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder on Jan. 29, which will be his final official visit.
Kouandjio already has taken official visits to California and New Mexico and said he is “still open” to all of those schools, as well as Notre Dame and Maryland.
He has proven to be one of the most versatile offensive linemen on the East, having practiced at center, guard and tackle — the position he prefers.
“I like being out there with fast people because I like to run,” he said. “I always liked to run. I like to display my speed.”
The Vols have put themselves in position to land Kouandjio.
“I like them a lot,” he said. “They’ve been showing me a lot of attention ever since I met them. Even though that gets a little bit crazy sometimes with all of these colleges, it still shows that they really do want me. I really do like them for that.”
Kouandjio seems sold on UT’s coaches. He’ll evaluate the players during his official visit.
“I like the coaches a lot,” he said. “I just want to get down there and meet the players.”
Kouandjio said he’s intrigued by UT’s vacancy on its offensive line.
“I think that’s a big deal for me because I want to play early wherever I go,” he said.
No Volunteer: Tailback Lache Seastrunk said he wrote UT off after hearing three Vols being arrested and charged with attempted armed robbery in November.
“You just keep hearing a lot of negative things about them (like) robbing people,” the tailback from Temple (Texas) High said.
Seastrunk said he believes that UT’s public image has hurt the Vols among some prospects, including him.
“I don’t want to be associated with robbing anybody,” the 5-11, 190-pounder said. “I want to have a great image like I have right now.”
Seastrunk said even if he had wanted to, his family ruled out the Vols for fear that the highly-rated tailback would be guilty by being associated with the public UT incident.
“My grandmother and mom were like ‘Oh no. You’re not going out there,’ ” he said.
Defensive back Mike Edwards and receiver Nu’Keese Richardson were dismissed from UT. Safety Janzen Jackson was retained after his charges were dropped.
Seastrunk, who took an unofficial visit to UT last summer, said he was already wary of UT’s depth chart, which showcased two highly rated tailbacks — Bryce Brown and David Oku.
Seastrunk commended defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza, who recruits Texas, for convincing him to visit.
“That’s when I started liking them a little bit,” he said.
Seastrunk, who is considering Memphis, LSU, Oregon, Auburn, Southern California and Texas, said he’s been somewhat pleased with his performance in practice.
“I still think I can do way better because I always set my bar really high,” he said. “I always have high standards for myself. I still feel like I’m going to run for over 200 yards … if I can get the carries (in Saturday’s game). I feel like I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”
Seastrunk didn’t seem too concerned about recruiting even though he said the in-state Longhorns may have stopped recruiting him.
“I like Texas still but I don’t think they really talk to me anymore but that’s OK,” he said. “I don’t really keep in contact with them; that’s why (they haven’t been recruiting him stronger).
“I’m always doing a hundred million things and I just got a new phone.”
Bulldog Bound: Defensive tackle Garrison Smith maintained he’s still committed to Georgia despite calls he receives from other schools, including UT.
“I hear from them but I’m pretty solid (to Georgia),” the 6-4, 250-pounder from Douglass High in Atlanta said.
Smith said he probably won’t take official visits to schools in January.