Vols get a kick with addition of Darr

No. 1 punter from 2010 to enroll next week

Tennessee's newest football signee is a linebacker and California state champion in the discus and shot put.

Oh, and he was also considered the nation's top-rated punter for the 2010 signing class.

Such was the bizarre recruitment of Matt Darr from Frontier High School in Bakersfield, Calif. (who plans to only punt at UT).

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Darr signed with UT on Wednesday morning, picking the Vols over LSU in the most recent development of a recruitment that had more twists and turns than the Pacific Coast Highway.

Darr originally committed to play for Southern California. Twenty-four days before signing day, former coach Pete Carroll was hired by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Darr then signed with Fresno State on Feb. 3. One month later, special teams coach John Baxter wasn't retained by Fresno State and was hired by new USC coach Lane Kiffin.

Darr said he tried to remain open-minded about playing for Fresno State throughout his senior year. Then, he finally decided to play elsewhere. Somewhat surprisingly, Fresno State coach Pat Hill granted Darr his full release about a week ago.

"At the time I really didn't know what my options were because I hadn't been contacted by other schools (since signing with Fresno State)," said Darr, who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

With Baxter joining the Trojans, USC would have seemed like a natural fit for Darr. That, however, wasn't the case with a well-known former UT coach at the helm.

"I know you guys really don't like Lane Kiffin; I guess I feel the same way," said Darr, who added that USC's recent NCAA sanctions were also a drawback to playing for USC. "It didn't strike me as the most appealing place to be once the new staff got in there."

That brought in another UT connection. UT special teams/tight ends coach Eric Russell recruited Darr to Texas Tech last season before joining UT's staff. Now, a new chase for Darr was on.

LSU was soon in the mix. Darr took official visits to both schools. Both had strong appeal.

"I had never been to an SEC school to see what it was like," Darr said. "I was really just blown away."

In the end, Darr signed with UT over LSU partly because of the Vols' emphasis on special teams. Moreover, UT head coach Derek Dooley has coached many phases of the kicking game.

Darr traveled home to California on Wednesday and will return next week to enroll at UT.

His resume is impressive. Darr averaged 42.9 yards per punt last season with a career long of 71 yards. He also booted a 53-yard field goal while registering 96 tackles as a linebacker last season.

In track and field, Darr defended his shot put title with a personal-record 63 feet, 9.75 inches in the state finals but settled for fifth place in the discus after winning the event last year at 192-0.

"I guess I'm like an all-around athlete," Darr said modestly.

That modesty should carry over to this season. Despite his pedigree, he said he's willing to redshirt in 2010 if UT can get the kicking job done.

UT has a senior punter, Chad Cunningham, and senior field goal kicker, Daniel Lincoln, and one of the top-rated placekicking prospects in the nation, freshman Michael Palardy, prepared to kick this season.

Still, kickoffs - and maybe more - are possible for Darr. After all, who would have expected the No. 1-rated punter to end up in Knoxville in July?

"It's going to be a great place for me to compete on a national level and show what I have," Darr said.

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Comments » 122

Razor784 writes:

It's usually hard to get excited about a punter, but maybe this will help jump start this year's recruiting class

easleychuck writes:

The article is still wrong. It says Carroll bolted 2 days before NSD which is completely wrong.

Great addition to the squad. Coach Dooley is going to be fine.

orangeman1 writes:

Dooley is putting the pieces in place for the future. I think he will be successful in recruiting as long as the team fair well this year.

volsoutwest writes:

Wow things are really taking shape in the kicking game. You just can't overstate the importance of kicking and special teams in general. Loving it.

orangecountyvols writes:

Nice to read what you guys above have to say about this young man. The other thread soon became engulfed with some negative stuff so hopefully this one will be a lot more positive and readable. Vol fans familiar with football do acknowledge the benefit of having a really good kicking game and that does appear to be what's on the way with Palardy and Darr.

Good comments.

UT4ever writes:

Try about 5 weeks before NSD is "when Carroll bolted" you moron!! Hooker either go buy yourself one or retire!! Do you seriously cover UT or do you have a stunt double?? HOHOHOHOHOHHOOOOOO!!!!

TommyJack writes:

in response to Razor784:

It's usually hard to get excited about a punter, but maybe this will help jump start this year's recruiting class

You don't miss a great punter til you don't have one. We should know.

VolinCalif writes:

How about those Chickens! It's another Nat Champ for the SEC. I wish we could have done it, but the SEC E is the next best thing. Lets all give the Gamecocks the hand they have earned.

FWBVol writes:

in response to easleychuck:

The article is still wrong. It says Carroll bolted 2 days before NSD which is completely wrong.

Great addition to the squad. Coach Dooley is going to be fine.

I'm wondering if maybe the kid planned on enrolling early at USC and then Carroll bolted for the NFL two days before Darr was scheduled to report to campus.

When a kid enrolls in January that is considered to be the same thing as NSD.

allvol9 writes:

Love this guy already with his comments! Just a great pickup for the Vols.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Never seen so much excitement over a punter in July. I think we (even trolls) are starving for anything football related. Practice starts August 4th so hang tight, its almost here.

GoUTVols3 writes:

I couln't be happier with Dooley and his emphasis on special teams, if you discount special teams then you are only displaying your lack of knowledge about the game. Welcome to big orange country Matt, Go Vols!

CroKev writes:

Here's the quote that got me excited:
"In the end, Darr signed with UT over LSU partly because of the Vols' emphasis on special teams. Moreover, Dooley has coached many phases of the kicking game."
Seeing the kicking game going from an area of concern to a position of great quality and depth in such a short time is really encouraging. Way to go Coach Russell!

CroKev writes:

I have to say that I also liked the comments about USC and the coaching staff. Really, we should compile a book with these comments (James Stone's, etc.) and present it to recruits considering UT and USC.
Also, this kid sounds like he knows how to tackle. If he doesn't want to play LB, it would still be nice to see him rip the head off of some punt returner thinking he can just run over our punter!

tsaecesnitsebhtruof writes:

in response to MYFAVORITECOLOR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If this kid were a return specialist would you (in your honest oppinion) be telling us that the return game is the single most important element of the game? Do you really think a punter "intimidates" the opponent? Let's be real here: He's a punter!!! Look what the big dogs did this past week. Did you see the verbals Florida got this week? 'Bama is doing the same. Again: He's only a punter. Not exactly intimidating.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to tsaecesnitsebhtruof:

If this kid were a return specialist would you (in your honest oppinion) be telling us that the return game is the single most important element of the game? Do you really think a punter "intimidates" the opponent? Let's be real here: He's a punter!!! Look what the big dogs did this past week. Did you see the verbals Florida got this week? 'Bama is doing the same. Again: He's only a punter. Not exactly intimidating.

A new thread was begun on this subject.......the other was fairly well inundated with the trolls, and sure enough, here comes the first legitimate troll on this one. It didn't take long, Mr. mixed up initials, ( fourthbestinthesec ) troll, for you to appear. Just like the movie, "Band of brothers" you guys have your own "Band of trolls."

Jack, please get rid of them.

Ringside writes:

Moving field position during the season could be a huge asset for this team. Good pick up.

TommyJack writes:

in response to AF1A4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you smoking oleander?

VOLinAthensGA writes:

I just love that he abandoned USC. Welcome to Rocky Top Matt!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to Ringside:

Moving field position during the season could be a huge asset for this team. Good pick up.

It's the difference between a last second field goal for the win or a failed 4th and long..ask the colquitts

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

nice pick up that just fell in our lap..Kicking game is set for next 4 years..It's also nice to have a punter that can make a tackle instead of flop like a fish.

shaymous writes:

in response to volsoutwest:

Wow things are really taking shape in the kicking game. You just can't overstate the importance of kicking and special teams in general. Loving it.

Very true, it cost us at least 1 win last season...

easleychuck writes:

in response to AF1A4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not at this juncture, wouldn't be prudent.

Down_The_Field writes:

the only thing i'd rather have than good punter is a good D-lineman. second would be a punter.

hummmm, third linebacker; fourth O-lineman; fifth kicker; sixth QB (my question, can he hand off?); sixth secondary (remember 1st pick D-lineman? QB can't throw on his back); seventh WR (why even bother with you can run the ball); last RB (i'd drag some guy off a UPS truck for this job).

JMO

PMC2726 writes:

in response to AF1A4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Carry us"? Is that what Lincoln and Cunningham have been doing? Wow, we must have been watching different games. I hope you are joking about red shirting a punter and FG kicker -- too much playbook for them to memorize? You put your best players on the field and give them a chance to make plays.

gnm53108 writes:

Welcome to the Big Orange Nation Mat.

Great job Coach Dooley!

mtowntim writes:

in response to CroKev:

I have to say that I also liked the comments about USC and the coaching staff. Really, we should compile a book with these comments (James Stone's, etc.) and present it to recruits considering UT and USC.
Also, this kid sounds like he knows how to tackle. If he doesn't want to play LB, it would still be nice to see him rip the head off of some punt returner thinking he can just run over our punter!

Yea, rip his friggin head off! Damn, I need some football. Keep up the pace Dooley and we will get there quicker than some think. GO VOLS!!

TNvalleyVOL writes:

in response to AF1A4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

redshirting is the 1980's way to build football teams...these days, if you don't let the players compete for a spot right out of the gate, you will never recruit the top talent. (I don't necessarily like this new truth, and look no further than Kentucky basketball to see how harmful it is to your program when taken to an extreme.)

gnm53108 writes:

in response to mtowntim:

Yea, rip his friggin head off! Damn, I need some football. Keep up the pace Dooley and we will get there quicker than some think. GO VOLS!!

Slow down there tim,we gotta pace ourselves.

I'm with ya....had to watch the 91 miracle the other night.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to AF1A4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hail no! We are going to be shorthanded enough this season, so if there are additional weapons we can put on the field, let's do it. A great kicking game and outstanding special teams could steal us a win or two. It could mean the difference between a 5 win season and getting to a bowl game.

wsmows writes:

Does this mean we trade Kenny Chesney for (Bakersfield great) Dwight Yokum excellent!!

tomnncvol writes:

This is my first comment... I used to be an Oakland raiders fan and I remember that Ray Guy was a game changer....

volaholic45 writes:

Good news is good news. Great punters are always a terrific asset. I don't get the whiners who lament that he's not an LB or QB or DL or OL or whatever. The program needs some good things to happen, and here is something good. And good things beget good things. So I say we bank it and look for the next one.

volaholic45 writes:

Besides, back when the whiners were complaining that OC Randy Sanders was unimaginative, they were dead wrong. No other football team in the nation was running to set up the punt.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

the only thing i'd rather have than good punter is a good D-lineman. second would be a punter.

hummmm, third linebacker; fourth O-lineman; fifth kicker; sixth QB (my question, can he hand off?); sixth secondary (remember 1st pick D-lineman? QB can't throw on his back); seventh WR (why even bother with you can run the ball); last RB (i'd drag some guy off a UPS truck for this job).

JMO

Seriously? Would you draft Ray Guy (arguably the best NFL punter ever) ahead of Peyton Manning (arguably one of the best QBs ever)? Has a punter ever been drafted in the top 5?...10? No offense to Mr. Darr but I would trade his signature for a highly rated OL right now.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to tsaecesnitsebhtruof:

If this kid were a return specialist would you (in your honest oppinion) be telling us that the return game is the single most important element of the game? Do you really think a punter "intimidates" the opponent? Let's be real here: He's a punter!!! Look what the big dogs did this past week. Did you see the verbals Florida got this week? 'Bama is doing the same. Again: He's only a punter. Not exactly intimidating.

Answering this post would require an entire explanation of the game of football.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to volaholic45:

Good news is good news. Great punters are always a terrific asset. I don't get the whiners who lament that he's not an LB or QB or DL or OL or whatever. The program needs some good things to happen, and here is something good. And good things beget good things. So I say we bank it and look for the next one.

Thats good.

mtowntim writes:

in response to gnm53108:

Slow down there tim,we gotta pace ourselves.

I'm with ya....had to watch the 91 miracle the other night.

Appreciate your concern, guess I had to much coffee this morning. Man I gotta tell ya, I'm married and raising two girls 10&17. On top of that, I am COMPLETLY surrounded by NASCAR fans. U.T. football is the only thing that keeps me partially sane along with an occasional Bud Light or rum&coke.

I know Oline is a concern this year but I believe Heistand will pull that together. Now that we have Darr and Parlady, I think the season rests solely on Q.B. play.

Now all I need to know is from Gerryop, how many days?! GO VOLS!!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Answering this post would require an entire explanation of the game of football.

And you would be totally wasting your time.

golfballs03 writes:

He probably looked at our offense and thought that he would get a lot of opportunities to punt.

GerryOP writes:

in response to tsaecesnitsebhtruof:

If this kid were a return specialist would you (in your honest oppinion) be telling us that the return game is the single most important element of the game? Do you really think a punter "intimidates" the opponent? Let's be real here: He's a punter!!! Look what the big dogs did this past week. Did you see the verbals Florida got this week? 'Bama is doing the same. Again: He's only a punter. Not exactly intimidating.

And you're ONLY a Gata troll. Is you're life so insignificant that (in your honest opinion) you have nothing better to do than hangout here?

mtowntim writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did your eye twitch? Mine did and I couldn't do anything about it becauase I was to busy trying to pick my jaw&heart up from the ground. Looks like those days are behind us now, thank god.

How many days GerryOP?

GerryOP writes:

in response to mtowntim:

Appreciate your concern, guess I had to much coffee this morning. Man I gotta tell ya, I'm married and raising two girls 10&17. On top of that, I am COMPLETLY surrounded by NASCAR fans. U.T. football is the only thing that keeps me partially sane along with an occasional Bud Light or rum&coke.

I know Oline is a concern this year but I believe Heistand will pull that together. Now that we have Darr and Parlady, I think the season rests solely on Q.B. play.

Now all I need to know is from Gerryop, how many days?! GO VOLS!!

65 -- Fear The Dooley Dude...

tnsportsman writes:

OH NO you don't mean LSU wanted Matt Darr THE PUNTER too! All the TROLLS, Alabubbas and Swamp Lizards were saying yesterday on the story how Tennessee was the only school after a Punter in July, ROFLMAO!

Great signing and welcome Young Darr! Talented Mulit-Position Players is what The Big Orange needs right now!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

mtowntim writes:

in response to GerryOP:

65 -- Fear The Dooley Dude...

Thanks man. I feel better, gotta go have my teeth cleaned now. GO VOLS!!!

RJ_Vol writes:

Great kickers(if we'll use them) will be worth two to three wins per year. They are part of the formula that separates pretenders from contenders. By no means are we a contender just yet, but we just put a few more pieces of the puzzle together. Interior lineman will have to be next.

VolInSabanLand writes:

Any time you have an opportunity to pick up a quality player, its a positive - no matter the position. Yeah, I'd love it to be a 5 star lineman, but I'd a lot rather have Darr than face Darr. Its not a case of pick-between-these-two...its will-he-help-you-or-not? Its great to have talent and depth, (would love 2 proven placekickers last year when Lincoln got hurt, wouldn't we?).

Another aspect not mentioned is that he appears to be an overall athlete, which might make the possibility of some special teams "trickeration" more appealing.

Anyway, welcome aboard Matt. Hope your days at UT are the source of great pride and happiness in your life.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to mtowntim:

Appreciate your concern, guess I had to much coffee this morning. Man I gotta tell ya, I'm married and raising two girls 10&17. On top of that, I am COMPLETLY surrounded by NASCAR fans. U.T. football is the only thing that keeps me partially sane along with an occasional Bud Light or rum&coke.

I know Oline is a concern this year but I believe Heistand will pull that together. Now that we have Darr and Parlady, I think the season rests solely on Q.B. play.

Now all I need to know is from Gerryop, how many days?! GO VOLS!!

My kool-ade of choice is crown n seven.

I hope you're right about Heistand.I think he really knows his stuff but I believe that is going to be where our offensive sucess will depend.AS ALWAYS.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Razor784:

It's usually hard to get excited about a punter, but maybe this will help jump start this year's recruiting class

It's not hard for me to get excited about a punter.

After watching our special teams in recent years I could get downright giddy.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to DC_BackByPopularDemand:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That was pretty funny. You know what else was funny? Watching Timmy Tearbow cry like a little girl as the turds national championship hopes were flushed down the toilet. What a ‘hoot’!

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