The state's top 10 prospects: No. 7 Brendan Downs, Tennessee High

Tight end likes Duke; UT in hunt

Brendan Downs was sure he'd play football at Duke - until Tennessee came calling.

"Duke's a great place. I love it there. It just seemed like a great place," said Downs, who committed to be a Blue Devil in March. "But at the time, I never knew Tennessee would come knocking."

Now, the in-state Vols are knocking hard for the News Sentinel's seventh-best prospect in the state. An initial call to Downs' coach turned into a visit to Tennessee High School in Bristol by UT offensive coordinator Jim Chaney during the spring evaluation period.

That trip turned into a UT scholarship offer a week later. Downs was duly impressed and visited UT's campus Tuesday.

Downs met with academic advisors, toured the campus, met with first-year coach Derek Dooley and had a late lunch with Chaney.

"They really made it known what they expect out of their tight ends," the 6-foot-6, 230-pounder said. "It's a position of need. That's what they were really stressing to me."

Luke Stocker is the only tight end UT has on its roster with SEC experience. Moreover, Dooley has expressed a desire to eventually feature a two-tight-end system.

Fortunately for the Vols, there are two highly rated tight end prospects in the state: Downs and Cameron Clear from Central High School in Memphis.

UT seems to be in good shape with Downs even though he said he still considers himself a Duke commitment.

"Yeah I do, but I'm not ruling Tennessee out, for sure," Downs said.

Downs grew up a UT fan and said his recruitment is a two-team race between the Blue Devils and Vols despite scholarship offers from Virginia, Maryland, Baylor, Mississippi State and Memphis.

"I've been a Tennessee fan all my life," he said. "I remember as a little kid I would watch all the games."

Downs said he's pleased with his ability to block and catch passes. He said he still needs to work on avoiding defenders after the catch.

That should improve with more repetitions. Downs' pass receiving was barely a factor in Tennessee High's mostly ground-based offense until midway through the season. He then caught 10 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.

His offensive role likely will expand this fall, and he is slated to play some snaps at defensive end.

Despite the lackluster stat line, UT's coaches have told him they're impressed.

"They say they like that I have all the tools to be a great tight end," Downs said. "They said they also like the fact that I'm a well-rounded kid, that I'm smart and I have a good GPA. They said they're trying to get more kids like that in the program."

UT also is trying to get Downs' teammate, offensive lineman Mack Crowder.

Crowder also is evaluating a scholarship offer from UT.

"That would be great," Downs said of playing with Crowder in college, "but we know we've both got to feel real good about our decision. It would be great to end up at the same place because we're real good friends."

Downs said he called Duke's coaches, led by former UT assistant coach David Cutcliffe, to let them know he was visiting Knoxville.

"They understood," Downs said.

That remains to be seen.

There was a time when Duke seemed a likely destination for the duo from Tennessee High. Now, Knoxville seems a much stronger possibility.

That decision, however, might not come any time soon.

"I have until February," Downs said, "so I'm just going to see how things go."

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Comments » 17

orangecountyvols writes:

The wheels are turning. For all those who claim CDD isn't doing anything, interesting that almost every day someone is stepping forward and showing strong interest in the Vols.

Granted, visits do not mean committments always, but it's a step in the right direction. Many feel Derek and staff are playing golf, going fishing, relaxing at the beach, doing nothing else at this time, however what they are doing is unknown and it bothers a lot of people. So many want to know what's going on and it bothers them when they don't have a clue.

We may lose some along the way and still.......we may be in for some surprises.

rpenland21#231616 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

The wheels are turning. For all those who claim CDD isn't doing anything, interesting that almost every day someone is stepping forward and showing strong interest in the Vols.

Granted, visits do not mean committments always, but it's a step in the right direction. Many feel Derek and staff are playing golf, going fishing, relaxing at the beach, doing nothing else at this time, however what they are doing is unknown and it bothers a lot of people. So many want to know what's going on and it bothers them when they don't have a clue.

We may lose some along the way and still.......we may be in for some surprises.

Thats because these days everyone thinks they are an insider or a head coach in waiting instead of realizing they are a fan. Ive met Coach Dooley twice. You can see the desire in his eyes to make this program elite again. I personally hope we give him the chance to do it.

tnsportsman writes:

Young Mr. Downs once a VOL always a VOL! Tell Coach Cutt, sorry I'm a BIG ORANGE MAN! If you love Tennessee you have just been offered your dream!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

govolshw writes:

not so sure about this one...seems like we could do better but you never know

volboy81 writes:

I'd be jumping all over that offer! A Tennessee boy, a Tennessee fan, offered by Tennessee! Ive seen Tennessee High's football stadium...its better than Duke's!! Hope you'll be a Vol, Brendan!
GO VOLS!

alvol writes:

in response to SECFB:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Too bad you don't have one.

kjennin3 writes:

in response to alvol:

Too bad you don't have one.

This....chances are if you are trolling an opposing team's FREE site, you probably are only doing so because it is your day/night off from working at the gas station

SuckTheseVols98 writes:

here's two for UT!!! The whole lame kiffin thing has been a nothing but a blessing in disguise!! CDD will be a far better coach in the long run and I believe we will see another national championship before many would predict!! GO VOLS!!!

brush#220070 writes:

Come on down to Rocky Top Gentlemen

THS Viking Class of 1968
UT Vol Class of 1972

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i agree with you, rich. the 7th rated player in the state should have a place on this team.

listen to this kid:

"I've been a Tennessee fan all my life," he said. "I remember as a little kid I would watch all the games."

orange is in this kid's blood. when it's all said and done, he'll be one of us.

britt writes:

Guess ill be making the short trip to Bristol this fall in case CDD needs my opinion. Doesnt THS have 2 kids UT is watching?

700Nitro writes:

in response to SECFB:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mighty?I don't think you can call a program with 1 national championship in almost 60 years,mighty.

VolInIndy writes:

in response to DoctorVol50:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

despite scholarship offers from Virginia, Maryland, Baylor, Mississippi State and Memphis

What is your degree in Doc?

easleychuck writes:

in response to DoctorVol50:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The article clearly spells out his other offers, Sparky. You did read it before you took a cheap shot at the Vols.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to VolInIndy:

despite scholarship offers from Virginia, Maryland, Baylor, Mississippi State and Memphis

What is your degree in Doc?

This guy obviously has talent and offers from other BCS schools prove it. UT is needing to fill holes and its always good to have homegrown guys on the roster. He's intelligent and can play. Offer the scholy and he will live his dream.

easleychuck writes:

in response to 700Nitro:

Mighty?I don't think you can call a program with 1 national championship in almost 60 years,mighty.

What not playing the 'hillbilly' card today? That is your usual witty response, isn't it, mullet head. How was your 15 year hiatus in the desert being irrelevant in the conference? Troll somewhere else before someone drops a house on you. Or you could take some of that 'nitro' and blow out your brains....never mind, that would require you to have a brain.

CoachFulmer writes:

I seen this guy play twice last year as a junior. The best offensive threat on TN High's team. Reminds me of a Luke Stocker in his body, soft hands and he can put a helmet on a defensive end. His stats don't show it, but this kid has got some talent.

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