Princeton Fant was sold on Tennessee the very first time he ever visited Knoxville.
“It blew my mind,” the LaVergne (Tenn.) High School wideout said.
Then, when the 3-star receiver blew out his knee during a 7-on-7 practice before his junior season, coach Butch Jones’ loyalty truly sealed the deal.
Tennessee was the very first school to offer the freakish 6-foot-3, 210-pound prospect and the Volunteers “stuck with” Fant following his injury.
“Through the pain, through the ACL injury, even me kind of tweaking it again at UT camp, Coach Butch Jones was right there and stood over me and said, ‘We love you man. We still love you,’” Fant explained.
“That really meant a lot and pretty much [sold me] right there.”
In June, Fant, who has just nine career receptions but posted a 37-inch vertical and a 4.64-second 40-yard dash at a combine in May, was supposed to commit to Tennessee with LaVergne teammate Maleik Gray.
Instead, the 4-star safety beat him to the punch during an impromptu visit the weekend before.
A week later, Fant, the state’s 17th-ranked prospect, delivered Jones the good news at “Orange Carpet Weekend” with Gray in attendance.
“It feels great to stay home,” said Fant, who relishes the role of representing his state-school.
“I’m closer to my mom. She can come to my games and watch me. I loved Tennessee from the start. I’ve seen myself playing at Tennessee for a long time. It just feels great to know that I’m a Vol now.”
Five things to know
His relationship with Gray goes way back: “It’s always a competition between me and Maleik. This year we’re going to see who gets the most touchdowns, the most yards. Ever since middle school, grade school, even rec league. It’s always been a competition. Just like it is in practice now. He makes me better, and I get him better. That’s just our relationship.”
His mom has shutdown his recruitment: “I still hear from Ole Miss every now and then, but my mom pretty much made up her mind that I’m going to Tennessee. I’m loyal to my commitment.”
He’s got plenty of potential: “I can be a big-time player on the outside. I can develop into something scary. I know I can. As long as I put in the work, listen and be coachable. Coach told me how they’ll use me and that I’m a big part of the program, so I’m trying to focus and get my head in the game and continue to grind hard and be coachable.”
He’s working on reeling in some major Vols targets: “Me and Maleik, we were trying to get (receiver) Tee Higgins but you know he went to Clemson. We’re still trying to get (offensive lineman) Trey Smith and (running back) Cam Akers.”
He’s got some musical skills: “I like to play the drums. I’m pretty good. I play the drums in church at True Life Christian Ministry. I’ve been playing since I was a toddler.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com