KNOXVILLE — Tennessee found the quarterback for its 2013 recruiting class.
That’s not all the Volunteers did on the trail Thursday afternoon
North Carolina quarterback Riley Ferguson and Georgia linebacker Zach Barnes gave verbal pledges to UT, pushing the Vols’ 2013 commitment list to 11.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Ferguson, from Butler High School in Matthews, N.C., southwest of Charlotte, led his team to a state championship as a sophomore and finished his junior season with 3,345 yards, 48 touchdowns and a 66-percent completion rate.
ESPN rates Ferguson as a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 199 player overall. Rivals and 247Sports list the U.S. Army All-American Bowl nominee as a three-star recruit.
Ferguson had scholarship offers from LSU and Alabama, though each of the 2012 BCS finalists has two quarterbacks committed. Clemson, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, South Florida and Virginia Tech were among other schools giving him offers. The 25 pro-style quarterbacks 247Sports have ranked ahead of Ferguson already have committed elsewhere.
Two of his Butler teammates, receiver Uriah LeMay and linebacker Peter Kalambayi, also are big-time prospects. LeMay pledged to Georgia two weeks ago, joining older brother Christian, a redshirt freshman quarterback for the Bulldogs. Kalambayi has scholarship offers from UT, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Clemson, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan and Texas A&M, among others.
UT’s search for a quarterback continued this week with a camp on campus, and Ferguson performed for the Vols’ coaches earlier this week. UT has signed one quarterback in each of coach Derek Dooley’s three seasons. Junior Tyler Bray, sophomore Justin Worley and freshman Nathan Peterman are the Vols’ scholarship quarterbacks this season.
Barnes is an under-the-radar prospect who plays on a loaded defense at Grayson High School in Logansville, Ga. Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top prospect, joined defensive back David Kamara and tailback Wayne Gallman as Clemson commitments after reportedly pledging to the Tigers later Thursday. According to the Gwinnett Daily Post, Barnes’ only other scholarship offers were from Indiana and Southern Mississippi.
“Tennessee’s a great school,” Barnes told the paper. “They’ve got a great campus, a great study center, a great new football facility that should be done in 2013. I like the academic program up there. And of course I like the football program.”
Grayson won the Class 5A state championship in Georgia last season, which was only Barnes’ second playing football. His father, however, played in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons. Like Ferguson, Barnes was on campus earlier this week performing for UT’s defensive coaches.
Florida prep prospects Corey Vereen and Dominic Zanca and junior college recruit De’Vondre Campbell are the other linebackers publicly committed to UT. The Vols hosted an impressive list of prospects this week at camp and will host another three-day high school camp next month.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...