KNOXVILLE — Tennessee needed to add to its backfield.
The Volunteers did exactly that Monday afternoon.
A little more than a week before signing day, Tennessee and coach Butch Jones landed another big commitment when four-star tailback Derrell Scott announced for the Vols during a ceremony at Havelock High School in North Carolina.
"Really it was just my comfort level with the coaches," Scott said after putting on a black Tennessee hat.
"Me and Coach Jones and Coach G [running backs coach Robert Gillespie], we really developed a real good relationship. That's what really did it for me. I felt real comfortable with them all the time, and I feel like Coach G would be a really good teacher for me for the next four years."
Marlin Lane is Tennessee's top returning rusher, but he has been hampered by nagging injuries in each of his three seasons with the Vols and was suspended from the program for some time last spring.
The Vols' two other incoming backs are both coming off injuries, too. Jalen Hurd underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in August, though the five-star recruit, who's already on campus, should be ready for spring practice. Treyvon Paulk suffered a torn ACL this past season as well.
With Justus Pickett, who transferred to Tennessee from Maryland as a walk-on last year, and Alden Hill, who played mostly special teams last season, the only other options at tailback, the Vols and Gillespie made Scott a priority.
Scott said his relationship was Gillespie was a key factor in his decision.
"He's a really honest coach," he said. "He keeps it honest with you. He knows how to have fun, but at the same time he's serious. Sometimes you need a coach that can lighten the mood after you have a bad practice or something like that."
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Scott took an official visit to Florida earlier this month, but his two finalists were Tennessee and South Carolina. He hosted members of both coaching staffs for in-home visits late last week. The nation's No. 141 overall prospect according to 247sports.com took his official visit to Knoxville in October for Tennessee's game against Georgia.
"One hundred and ten thousand people really speaks for itself," Scott said. "When you're there for the atmosphere in the game, it's crazy. The way that team played, they didn't have the best year, but everybody on the team, they fought the whole year and played hard. That said a lot to me about the kind of men they've got on that team."
Scott's lengthy list of scholarship offers included Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson, Oregon, Arkansas, Miami, Notre Dame, North Carolina and North Carolina State. He was the MVP in the North Carolina Class 3A state championship game in December after running for 209 yards and touchdowns of 51, 20 and 96 yards on 18 carries in Havelock's victory.
Scott would have played with a Havelock teammate at either of his two finalists: redshirt freshman defensive end Kendal Vickers at Tennessee and rising sophomore receiver/returner Pharoh Cooper with the Gamecocks.
"[Vickers] was honest with me," Scott said. "I really didn't try to think about Kendal being there. My decision, I tried to make it for the right reasons and not for my friends being there."
With Scott's commitment, Tennessee's class is back up to 34 players (counting 14 early enrollees) following the decommitment of Norcross (Ga.) linebacker Kevin Mouhon. The U.S. Army All-American announced via Twitter that Tennessee "is not for me" and he would go elsewhere.
The 6-2, 220-pound Mouhon took an official visit to Cincinnati, where his older brother, Silverberry, plays defensive end, last weekend.
In the stretch run to signing day, Tennessee is trying to hold on to some of its current commitments, particularly along the defensive line. McCalla (Ala.) product Cory Thomas took an official visit to Mississippi State, and O'Fallon (Ill.) player Dewayne Hendrix was at Missouri. The Vols need to keep both players to restock their defensive line.
Two defensive tackle prospects -- New Orleans three-star prospect Courtney Garnett and Craig Evans from Wisconsin -- scheduled for visits to Tennessee last week chose not to make the trip to Knoxville.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 ...