published Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Fullback Fugate is Vols' 10th pledge for 2010

The 3,000-yard runner for Breathitt County High in Kentucky is passing up Louisville and Big Ten offers.


by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE -- The University of Tennessee football team added a ninth 2010 commitment Friday, when Jackson, Ky., fullback Channing Fugate quickly accepted a scholarship offer.

A 6-foot-1, 230-pounder with impressive statistics at Breathitt County High School, Fugate was just the second offensive commitment for the Volunteers.

Fugate amassed 3,052 yards and 36 touchdowns on 279 carries in 15 games last season for the Class AAA state runners-up.

"I was kind of surprised (with the scholarship offer), and I'm really excited," Fugate said Friday afternoon. "Their coaches talked to me for about 30 minutes, and I knew they weren't going to wait on me. If I'd have waited, they could have just gone on to somebody else. I couldn't wait.

"You can't let a chance like this pass."

UT was the eighth school to offer Fugate a scholarship. Louisville, Stanford, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana were among the others. Kentucky, surprisingly, wasn't on that list.

"Sometimes Kentucky lets in-state talent slip away, and I guess this is one of those times," Fugate said. "Their fullback position isn't the same as Tennessee's, and I guess they just don't think I fit in their system. Maybe that's it. I don't really know. I'm just happy to be going to a place like Tennessee.

"I wanted to go to the biggest, best place I could, and I'd say Tennessee's as big as it gets. It's an honor."

Fugate said UT coaches want him to play a "hybrid fullback" position.

"They said they like to do a lot of things with their fullbacks," Fugate said. "Obviously you're going to block a lot at that position -- and I love the physical part -- but they said they like their fullbacks to get a few carries and catch maybe 35 passes a year, and that would be great.

"I wouldn't consider myself a burner, but I can move for a guy my size and and do some things with the ball in my hands."

Fugate said he had "about a 3.9" grade point average and is awaiting results from his June 13 ACT. He said he'll try to enroll in January but would be OK with waiting until next summer.

"We're really excited for Channing, and we're awful proud of him," Breathitt County coach Mike Holcomb said. "This is great news."

UT coaches hope to collect more commitments from this week's camp. Several top prospects, including highly touted California quarterback Jesse Scroggins, are in Knoxville for the multiday event.

about Wes Rucker...

Twitter - @wesrucker Facebook - /tfpvolsbeat

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