published Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Bristol mates commit to Vols


by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE — Two Vikings said they’ll become two Volunteers.

Offensive lineman Mack Crowder and tight end Brendan Downs, teammates at Bristol’s Tennessee High School, became UT’s ninth and 10th commitments for the 2011 signing class Friday.

They announced their expected choices at an afternoon news conference at their school.

“I’ve always dreamed of running through the ‘T’ ever since I was a little kid,” Crowder said.

Added Downs, previously a commitment to Duke and former UT assistant David Cutcliffe: “This is what I’ve always wanted.”

Major recruiting services Rivals, Scout and ESPN unanimously agree that the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Crowder and 6-6, 235-pound Downs are three-star prospects at this point.

Crowder — who also had offers from Florida, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Maryland, Kansas and others — said he has a 3.9 grade point average and Vanderbilt came in second for his services. ESPN and Scout consider Crowder the nation’s No. 7 center prospect, while Rivals ranked him No. 13. All three services ranked him among Tennessee’s 10 best high school prospects.

“Crowder is a tough athletic run blocker who flashes good single blocking playing strength,” according to his Scouts Inc. report. “Has the size for the center position at the major level of competition. Gets the ball up quickly to the QB and can handle the shotgun snap. Shows good flexibility, agility and balance.”

Downs also had offers from Maryland, Mississippi State and Baylor. Rivals considers him the nation’s No. 26 tight end prospect. Scout ranks him No. 28, and ESPN has him at No. 32.

“Downs is a good sized tight end who displays the tools to be a well rounded player at the position in college,” Scouts Inc. wrote. “He has good height and the frame to add more needed good bulk with time in a college weight program. You might assume that offensive line is in his future, but as a tight end he displays good straight-line speed, and if he can keep that speed while he adds size he could remain a college tight end.

“He has good strides and can cover some ground.”

about Wes Rucker...

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