February 9, 2011

Vols must again make inroads in Carolinas

At one time in the 1990s, Tennessee had its reach far into both North Carolina and South Carolina when it came to recruiting blue-chip athletes.

The Vols have still been able to pull out their fair share of big-time names in South Carolina the last few years, see Corey Miller, Pat Martin and Justin Worley, but Tennessee hasn't had much success recruiting the Tar Heel State as of late.

Although there hasn't been the Tennessee presence in the state the last few years, there's at least one prospect that knows about the Vols.

"I went to Tennessee's spring game in like my seventh-grade year. That was my favorite school for the longest. That was my dream school. I've still got all my Tennessee stuff, too," Asheville, N.C., athlete Tysean Holloway said.

The 6-foot, 180-pound utility player knows a lot about the Vols after growing up cheering for Tennessee.

"I used to want to be a veterinarian and they've got a really great vet school and I was really into that and that's what I wanted to do," Holloway said. "But, then I was talking to coach (Phillip) Fulmer when he was there and I went to a camp there in like 2006, and he was impressed with how I was doing for how young I was. That's when I was a quarterback and I was participating with the older guys and I was doing really well."

These days, Holloway is a Division I recruit with offers from both North Carolina and Georgia Tech. Oregon, Nebraska, Stanford, Virginia, Florida State, N.C. State, Duke and Clemson are just a few of the other schools that are showing interest as well.

One team that isn't showing a lot of interest as of right now is Tennessee. Although he played with Alabama signee Jeoffrey Pagan last year, he said the Vols haven't talked to him that much.

"They've sent some letters, but it's not been anything serious," Holloway said.

The schools that are talking to him are pursuing him at different positions all over the field.

"Most schools want me as a running back, but Carolina wants me as a safety and Tech wants me as a quarterback," Holloway said. "I don't care where I play. As long as I get a scholarship I'm happy."

Running back is a new position for Holloway. This past season was his first year playing it after playing quarterback as a sophomore. Even though it was his first season, Holloway had a lot of success.

"I was a quarterback my sophomore season and last year as a running back I had over 1,600 rushing yards and that was my first year doing and I think it opened up a lot of peoples' eyes and got them saying, 'this guys just not a quarterback, he can do a lot of different things,'" Holloway.

Holloway feels that teams really like his versatility and how he can play multiple positions.

"Really, how they can put me anywhere on the field and I'll do my best at it. Like this year, I was the punter and it was my first punter and I was just kicking the ball," Holloway added.

That versatility helped him earn first-team athlete on the Army Combine team in San Antonio.

And while that versatility maybe hasn't caught the eye of UT coaches just yet, he said he wouldn't mind hearing from the team he grew up cheering for.

"Oh, most definitely (he would listen). I used to love Tennessee and everything. I just don't want to be a vet anymore, I just don't like class that much anymore," Holloway said. "If they gave me a chance, I would definitely look into them."

The Carolinas

The Carolinas were once a fertile ground for the Vols to pluck from, but with the emergence of both North Carolina and South Carolina in the past few years, it's made it harder for Tennessee to recruit like they used to in those states.

Here is a rundown of players that are already hearing from the Vols in 2012 out of those states.

Patrick Destefano - He's a big lineman from South Carolina and just received his Tennessee offer. He already holds one from most of the ACC and some SEC schools.

Jody Fuller - One of the better receivers in the South, Fuller already claims the Gamecocks as his leader early, although the North Carolina wideout will have a lot of options.

D.J. Humphries - One of the biggest names early in the South, the Charlotte lineman can already claim 20 offers. He says LSU is his early leader.

Keith Marshall - Probably one of the top running backs in the country, Marshall resides in North Carolina and will have his pick with schools.

Martin Aiken - The Vols were the first to pull the trigger on offering Aiken but they certainly weren't the last as he's already piling up at least 10 offers. All of this in the span of about a month

Gimel President - The South Carolina defensive end already has offers from Clemson, Tennessee, South Carolina and others early in the process.

Nick Dawson - Sure to be one of the South's top linebackers, this Charlotte playmaker already has a handful of offers, including the Vols.

Tysean Holloway - The Vols used to dominate Western North Carolina and may have the chance to snag Holloway, a versatile athlete who already has Georgia Tech and North Carolina offers.

Shaq Roland - A good looking safety prospect out of North Carolina that is already receiving a lot of big-time attention and offers, including some from the Vols.

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