For nearly two years, Tennessee was the only Power 5 school to offer Solon Page III.
The 3-star linebacker from Marietta (Ga.) wondered, “Am I ever going to get any more offers?”
Slowly, interest from other schools picked up, but Page, a rangy 6-foot-1, 192-pound defensive playmaker, always found himself coming back to his first true love.
“Whenever I visited other schools I would always compare them to Tennessee, try and see how they stacked up,” said Page, who recorded 110 tackles, 15 TFL and two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns) as junior.
“Nothing ever came close.”
The nation’s No. 61 linebacker committed to Tennessee at the Orange and White Game in April, calling the decision “not something I’d planned on doing then” but “just sort of happened because of the vibes that I got. It just felt right.”
Three months later, Page, who chose UT over Rutgers, North Carolina, Virginia and others, remains very happy with his decision and says he’s quite solid to the Vols.
“Coach (Butch) Jones told me they’re going to be committed to me as I am to them,” Page said. “So I said, ‘I’m 100 percent committed to y’all, so I’m not going to be visiting any other schools.’”
Five things to know
He’s got a little Gary Payton in him: “Off the field, I’m humble. … But on the field, I like to talk a lot. I talk a lot of trash. I like to play fast and go around and hit people and then let you know that I just hit you. That’s just fun to me. Hitting people and letting them know, ‘That this is coming all day and all night.’ I always thought football is supposed to be fun, so why not do that. If you’ve got a problem with it then stop me.”
He envisions a versatile role at Tennessee: “They’ll have me at outside linebacker, but it will be kind of playing like that hybrid safety kind of position. Like a walk-down safety. I think they call it the JACK. (Linebackers) Coach (Tommy) Thigpen likes the way I play in space, so that’s where they’re going to play me. They want to play to my strengths and put me out into space.”
His high school utilizes a similar defensive-scheme as the Vols, so he’ll have some familiar in college: “I feel like that’s going to be an (advantage) and give me a little bit of an edge as far as learning the scheme and learning the defense.”
He has a 3.75 GPA and plans to major in business, marketing or sports management. He’s also super impressed with Tennessee’s commitment to academics: “Their academic facilities are off the charts. It’s setup to where in my eyes: there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to graduate. … I don’t understand how you can’t graduate. That’s my thing if I’m going to college, I always plan on graduating and Tennessee makes it as easy as possible. With all the tutors, the time that you could be spending in your room playing video games they already have your whole schedule planned out so you’re dong what you should be doing. I thought that was pretty cool.”
He’s seen first-hand Vols fans’ passion: “At a game one time, a bunch of girls came up to me and asked me to sign a bunch of different body parts. Like their neck and their arms. I thought that was super weird because I don’t even play at Tennessee and they’re asking for my autograph.”
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