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Tennessee’s running back board continues to shrink.
After 5-star tailback target Cam Akers committed to Florida State on Dec. 27, 3-star Sunshine State speedster Darrian Felix is no longer an option now too after committing to Oregon on Sunday.
Ya Ma it's OREGON ‼️ #COMMITED#QUACK pic.twitter.com/tIhK2L3D5C
— Darrian Felix (@Dhat_6) January 8, 2017
Felix took an official visit to Tennessee in November and was being recruited to the Vols by linebacker commit Shanon Reid, a fellow Fort Meyers native who will enroll early on Wednesday.
With Akers and Felix out of the mix, the Vols will shift their focus toward 4-star Travis Etienne, 3-star Timothy Jordan and 3-star Johnathan Lovett. Tennessee still wants to add a third tailback to the class, pairing either Etienne, Jordan or Lovett with 4-star U.S. Army All-American Ty Chandler and 3-star West Monroe (La.) standout Trey Coleman.
Jordan is a recent Western Kentucky decommit, who is garnering attention from Tennessee, North Carolina, Purdue and Florida. The Bartow standout plans to take an official visit to Tennessee on Jan. 20.
Lovett is a former Rutgers commit, receiving a Vols offer in late December.
Top of the list
The most talented option remaining for Tennessee is Etienne, a Louisiana native who is also suddenly LSU’s top target after missing on Akers. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound tailback rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and scored 34 total touchdowns as a senior.
He will take an official visit Tennessee this weekend, tripping to Knoxville for the first time.
“I haven’t gotten a chance to see Tennessee,” Etienne told SEC Country.
“I definitely wanna go to see them before I make a decision. I like the opportunity to play over there, its wide open.”
What isn’t exactly “wide open” is Etienne’s recruitment. The former Aggies commit openly admitted he has a top school in mind right now, saying, “I really love College Station. It felt like a home away from home. They’re my leaders honestly. (LSU and Tenn) are tied. I haven’t seen Tennessee. I haven’t been there or anything. Going there is going to tell me what I need to know.”
Still, Etienne quickly stated that TAMU’s lead isn’t insurmountable.
“Nothing is final. They’re close. Almost all balanced, as close as you can get,” Etienne explained.
“I’m giving every school an equal opportunity and see what the academics part of it are like.”
The difficulty for Tennessee is timing. Etienne will take official visits to Texas A&M (Jan. 20) and LSU (Jan. 27) the following weekends. The tailback acknowledged he could re-commit to the Aggies in two weeks or jump at the chance to play for his childhood team.
“There’s a chance of that happening, by talking to the players and coach (Kevin) Sumlin and being back there,” he said on rejoining Texas A&M’s 2017 class.
“But LSU is right there because they’re so close to home. It’s the home school that I grew up wanting to play for. Being from here, everyone dreams of playing for LSU and running in touchdowns in Death Valley. There’s really nothing better than that.”
Asked what he’s looking for on his official visit to Tennessee and what the Vols can do to truly enter the picture, Etienne said, “I have to sit down with my family. It’s nothing they (any school) can do. The decision is on me now.
“I have to see what schools have offer to offer me and my family, and then see what school is best for me. I wanted to see all schools and give every school an equal opportunity.”
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