July 25, 2011

Vols make move for JuCo DT

It wasn't the first time East Mississippi Community College defensive tackle Damien Jacobs had set foot on the University of Tennessee's campus, but the circumstances were much different this past weekend than they were two summers ago.

Then, Jacobs was a rising senior defensive tackle that didn't have much interest in the Vols. Now, he's claiming them his leader after the weekend in Knoxville with teammate Denico Autry.

“No doubt, they're number one. It's just the opportunities. It's the opportunity of a lifetime to go right into an SEC school and just play big-time minutes and a lot of people don't get that chance,” Jacobs said.

Last time Jacobs was in Knoxville he wasn't privy to then-head coach Lane Kiffin and his staff, but this time around he said the coaches in Knoxville were a big reason Tennessee's on top for his services.

“I had a great visit,” Jacobs said. “It was just great. I really got to see the life of an athlete, the facilities and the support and the coaching staff made it even better.”

Jacobs didn't have the busiest of weekends. Friday he was able to check out Tennessee's campus and football facilities and Saturday he spent most of his time with Izauea Lanier and Malik Jackson.

“Friday, we took a walking tour of the whole campus and Saturday we just kind of laid back a little bit and we saw them doing their conditioning tests. Saturday, we didn't really do too much, but Friday we really looked at everything,” he said. “The facilities were top-notch. Some of the best facilities in the country, no doubt.”

One of the things that struck the 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle the most was the coaching staff, starting with head coach Derek Dooley.

“The thing that caught my eye was that from coach Dooley on down to every other coach, they all told us the same thing. The opportunity for us to play is there. They're struggling and they need d-linemen. It's a great opportunity for us to come right in and play,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs spent most of his time with defensive line coach Lance Thompson and the message from Thompson was loud and clear.

“Coach Thompson just keeps telling me in order to get this program back great again they're going to need some d-linemen that can pressure the quarterback and stay in there," Jacobs said. "And they need bigger guys because some of the guys they have, in the game it's getting hard for them because they're so small."

The message of playing time was one Jacobs needed to hear because it looks like that's his number one priority.

“That's real big because ultimately that's what everybody wants; to go out there and play. Especially being in junior college, I want to go out there and play. I don't have time to waste,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said he doesn't have a timetable for when he will end his recruitment and commit.

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