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While Tennessee hosted a trio of Sunshine State natives on official visits over the weekend, a recent Vols commit from Florida made his first trip ever to Knoxville, too.
Orlando tight end James Brown, who committed on Oct. 31, made the 10.5-hour drive with his father and uncle to catch Tennessee’s wild win over Kentucky on Saturday.
The 3-star prospect told me his visit was “great.”
“I just loved the whole environment up there,” Brown said.
“The fan base and facilities were eye-opening. The coaching staff was just what I expected them to be after texting all of them daily. Coach (Larry) Scott and Coach (Butch) Jones are both cool people and all about business.
“It was good to sit and talk with both of them.”
For those unfamiliar, Brown’s recruitment blew up seemingly overnight, as the 6-foot-4, 220-pound product from Jones High School in Orlando switched from quarterback to tight end midway through his senior season.
Following the release of a highlight tape, Brown immediately heard from several SEC schools, including Tennessee, which ultimately offered him a scholarship late one Sunday evening in October.
Roughly 30 minutes later, he called the coaches back and told them he wanted to become a Vol.
“When I was playing quarterback, they were recruiting me for another position,” Brown told me previously.
“They wanted to see me at tight end. Other schools were sugar-coating me. I finally made the move. Put the work in and everything clicked. They stayed there the whole way. They’ve been my dream school since I was a little kid. I always wanted that offer. Then when it finally came through, it was a no-brainer.”
During his unofficial visit Saturday, Brown got a chance to see how Tennessee uses its tight ends firsthand. Ethan Wolf was the team’s second-leading receiver against UK, hauling in 4 receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Coaches told Brown he has the skill set and athleticism to be a mismatch like Wolf or senior tight end Jason Croom, a converted wide receiver.
He’ll need to add some weight and learn the physicality of the position, but he’s not concerned.
“They want to bulk me up a little bit, but it won’t be a problem,” Brown said. “They want me to be like Jason Croom now. Someone that can create space after getting the ball.”
Brown will take his official visit the weekend of Jan. 20-22.
Tennessee’s class down to 26 commits
While Brown was enjoying his first visit to Tennessee, another Vols tight end commit was exploring new options on an unofficial visit to Texas.
One day later, Chase Rogers de-committed from Tennessee.
— chase rogers (@ChaseARogers) November 13, 2016
The Mississippi record-setting pass catcher had been in the Vols 2017 class for more than eight months, but his eventual departure appeared imminent following Brown’s recent offer and quick commitment.
The 6-foot-3, 238-pound prospect from St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, Miss., has had a monster season season, though, piling up more than 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 44 career scores are the most in state history.
Rogers recently told 247Sports that he had “not been hearing much” from Tennessee.
Other visitors Saturday
Brown was hardly the only Tennessee commit in the house over the weekend.
Also in attendance:
• 2017 LaVergne safety Maleik Gray
• 2017 LaVergne receiver Princeton Fant
• 2017 Kell (Ga.) linebacker Solon Page III
• 2017 Buckhorn (Ala.) linebacker Will Ignont
• 2017 West Monroe (La.) tailback Trey Coleman
• 2018 Buford (Ga.) cornerback Brice Richardson
• 2019 Independence receiver Kendrell Scurry