KNOXVILLE — The state of Georgia has been a recruiting priority for nearly every University of Tennessee football coaching staff.
New boss Derek Dooley hasn’t been an exception.
Dooley took another commitment from Georgia on Wednesday, when Brunswick High School defensive back Justin Coleman pledged to the Volunteers over offers Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia, South Florida, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt and others.
Coleman is UT’s eighth public commitment for the Class of 2011, and its fourth from Georgia.
“I thought Tennessee had what I wanted and needed,” said Coleman, who has a 3.2 GPA and plans to graduate from high school and enroll at UT in January.
Kentucky and UT were the schools Coleman claimed to favor the most before committing to the Vols. He claimed to struggle with the decision until earlier this week.
“Basically, it was even with Kentucky, but what made (UT) stand out was the environment and the rich tradition they have,” he said.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Coleman, a three-star player according to most major recruiting services, will likely start his UT career at cornerback.
Rivals.com considers Coleman the nation’s No. 22 cornerback prospect, and the No. 29 overall prospect in Georgia. Scout.com considers him the nation’s No. 46 cornerback prospect. ESPN and Scouts Inc. consider him the nation’s No. 30 safety prospect.
“Coleman is a scheme versatile defensive back who could get recruited at corner or free safety,” according to his Scouts Inc. report. “Maybe falling under the radar at this time with the good instincts and skill-set he brings to the table. Has more-than-adequate height, length and overall size.
“Actually plays bigger and taller than (he’s) listed.”
Brunswick coach Victor Floyd praised his star — who became interested in the Vols while watching former All-America safety Eric Berry and visited Knoxville in June.
“I’m proud for him,” Floyd said. “He knew he wanted to get this decision out of the way early and graduate early, and a lot of kids aren’t mature enough to do all that.
“I just think he has all the tools. He’s athletic. He can run, he can jump and probably the biggest thing that separates him is his work ethic. I think he is going to do really well.”
The Vols might add two more commitments Friday from prized, in-state teammates Mack Crowder and Brendan Downs.
Crowder, a 6-4 offensive lineman, and Downs, a 6-6 tight end, attend Tennessee High in Bristol, Tenn. Both have been considered strongly leaning toward UT for weeks.
Downs previously committed to Duke but reopened his recruitment when UT offered. Crowder also is considering South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Duke, Kansas and Vanderbilt.
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