KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers.
It’s decision day for Matthew Butler.
The 3-star defensive end from Garner (N.C.) will announce his college choice in a ceremony at 3 p.m., picking between Tennessee, Penn State, Duke, N.C. State and Texas A&M.
Butler is ranked as the nation’s No. 527 prospect, per 247Sports Composite, but the 3-star recruit has long been a priority target for the Vols. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound hybrid defensive lineman recorded 26 sacks as a senior, and he dominated practices during the Shine Bowl of the Carolinas last week.
I will be announcing my commitment on December 21st @ 3:00 pm in the South Garner's Auditorium. All are welcome!! ?? pic.twitter.com/tzvYqbdION
— Matthew Butler (@mattbutler_45) December 9, 2016
SEC Country caught up with Butler at the Shrine Bowl, and the mature, cerebral linemen explained why Tennessee is considered among the frontrunners for his services.
“What caught my attention with Tennessee is coach Thigpen. He didn’t recruit me. He talked to me. We became close, almost. He would give me advice, on and off the field,” Butler told SEC Country.
“Once I got on campus, it was pretty cool, but it was like a fun day. But that’s not what I was looking for, so I started asking questions. At some places, I’m not going to say the schools names, because I’m not considering them anymore, they’re not on that six list, they would just evade the questions or say, ‘That’s a question for somebody else.’ Almost borderline telling me to have fun. That’s not what I’m on a visit to do. I was on a visit to learn. It wasn’t like that at Tennessee. It wasn’t like that at any of the schools I’m considering.
“Coach (Butch) Jones, he doesn’t necessarily recruit me either, he just talks to me about what he’s doing, because if I don’t like what he’s doing, then I won’t like. If I like what he’s doing, then I like it. That’s what I appreciated about Tennessee.”
Butler has taken a no nonsense approach to his recruitment. He isn’t interested in schools’ buzz or pizzaz. He cares only about the details and his personal checklist.
He visited Tennessee once this fall, attending the blowout loss to Alabama. He knows he’s a wanted man in Knoxville. He has a great relationship with coach Steve Stripling and is a prospect who, depending on the role, could find the field as a freshman.
Butler has played things rather close to the vest during his recruitment, but did he recently tip his hand with a shoutout to former Tennessee legendary pass rusher Reggie White?
Happy Birthday to the late great Reggie White #91 #92#RIPGOAT ?
— Matthew Butler (@mattbutler_45) December 19, 2016
Although in-state schools Duke and N.C. State made a hard push until the end, I expect the Vols to get an early Christmas present on Wednesday.
5-star RB Cam Akers sets commit date
Top tailback target Cam Akers will announce his college choice on Dec. 27, the 5-star recruit announced in a Twitter video Tuesday night.
Important announcement ??? pic.twitter.com/pxayNBzcB3
— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) December 21, 2016
The Clinton (Miss.) standout listed LSU, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee as his finalists, but most believe it’s a two-horse race between the Tigers and the ‘Noles.
The Vols are considered a darkhorse contender for the Army All-American, but unless Akers decides to delay his announcement (and not enroll early) it’s highly unlikely the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect picks Tennessee.
Still, the Vols would like to sign a third tailback in the 2017 class, and Akers simply headlines an RB board that includes Darrian Felix, Travis Etienne and Timothy Jordan. Other names could emerge in the coming weeks, too.