It was hard to believe Marcus Tatum when he said Tennessee could actually top Florida for his services last fall.
After all, Tatum was just a short drive from Gainesville, Fla., and he had spent more time on Florida’s campus than jorts. Still, Tatum maintained that Florida’s lead wasn’t unsurmountable, and that he was seriously considering the Vols. He stood by that statement on Monday when he committed to Tennessee over Florida, Alabama and Miami.
So was it an easy process? Well, actually it kind of was.
“I was ready for it,” the 6-foot-7, 255-pound offensive tackle said. “I was ready for all of it. It was a fun comfortable, soothing process.”
Of course, Tatum said he caught some guff from local Floridians who couldn’t understand his decision. No matter, he said it was “my decision.”
In this age of college football recruiting, prospects tend to enjoy the attention that comes with being a top-flight prospect. It was natural to wonder if Tatum was just looking for the spotlight when he said the Vols were actually a major player following his official visit in November. Turns out Tatum was being 100-percent truthful.
“On my official visit, it was really crossing my mind a lot,” Tatum said when asked when he knew he wanted to be a Vol. “Then a couple of days ago, it was final.”
Tatum never called himself a “mama’s boy”, but he might as well have – and that’s no insult. Tatum cared about his mother and her ability to follow her son’s college football career. So distance was somewhat of a factor. That was quickly overcome. Tatum’s mother fell for Tennessee just like he did during that official visit in November.
“She loved it,” Tatum recalled. “The distance factor didn’t bother her at all because she knows I’m mature and i can handle it. And I promised her from the beginning that no matter where I go, it’s going to be big-time football so it’s going to be on TV so she’ll have a way of watching me.
“It’s Vol Nation so there’s always going to be a way where she can watch the game.”
The biggest question about Tatum won’t be answered for some time. At 255- 260 pounds, he’s incredibly light to play in the SEC. He said he’d like to weigh at least 295 pounds before being a regular contributor for the Vols. Then, he’ll be ready.
“I just know when I can get around the same weight as everybody or more, I can compete,” Tatum said. “I’ve been doing that my whole life. I don’t have to be 30 pounds heavier to block them because I’ve been working on technique. I’ve always been lighter or the same amount of weight as someone.”
For those that doubt that, think again. Most doubted Tatum would ever play for the Vols.