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Posted: Tuesday June 17, 2008 12:46PM; Updated: Tuesday June 17, 2008 1:08PM

Tennessee's Fulmer cleaning up on recruiting front; more notes

Story Highlights
  • Utah possesses more prep talent than most people realize
  • Virginia has landed six commitments this month
  • More recruiting notes from around the country
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Phillip Fulmer
After an abnormally average recruiting haul in 2008, Tennessee is off to a great start on next year's class.
Rob Holt/Icon SMI

By Jeremy Crabtree, Special to SI.com, Rivals.com

Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer is the dean of SEC coaches, and lately he has been taking everybody to school on the recruiting front.

The Vols easily were the nation's hottest team in the past week, picking up five commitments -- including a monster pledge from four-star all-purpose back Jarvis Giles of Tampa Gaither. Giles ranks as the nation's No. 2 all-purpose back and the No. 103 player overall.

"They are like one big happy family and everyone is so friendly," Giles said. "People walk up to you and ask, 'How are you doing?' They come up out of the blue. It's a small community and it's like a close-knit family. This is the best fit for me. I have never seen anything like this. It's wonderful."

The Vols also picked up two three-star players in athlete Nyshier Oliver from Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep and guard Kevin Revis of Evensville (Tenn.) Rhea County. Throw in Olive Branch (Miss.) High offensive tackle Aubrey Phillips and lineman JerQuari Schofield, and it has been a wild week for the Vols.

When you add in the players who already had committed -- including Je'Ron Stokes, the nation's No. 11 receiver, and Damien Thigpen, the nation's No. 29 athlete -- the Vols' class really is starting to shape up.

"Jarvis told me he was glad to see me committed," Phillips said. "And I told him that I was glad that he committed, too. I think we're all going to make each other better, and the great class they're putting together gets me really excited."

While it hasn't grabbed as much attention as the great starts at USC, Ohio State and Texas, Tennessee has laid a good foundation for what could be one of the best groups in the SEC on National Signing Day. Then again, that shouldn't be a surprise. Fulmer always gets passing marks as one of the SEC's best recruiters.

More than Martinez

Most people nationally believe the only standout recruit in Utah is four-star offensive lineman John Martinez of Salt Lake City Cottonwood. But this past Saturday's Nike Training Camp in Provo proved there's plenty of talent in the state.

One of the fastest-rising players in Utah is three-star inside linebacker L.T. Filiaga of South Jordan Bingham. Filiaga, a 6-foot, 235-pounder, won the MVP award at linebacker Saturday with a solid all-around day.

"It was really important for me to come out here and do well because I've been so hungry for football," Filiaga said. "Utah doesn't do spring ball, and we have to wait a little longer to get out there. This was a great way to see where I'm at and how much I've improved in offseason training.

"I feel like I'm doing a lot better, but I still have a little more ways to go. This award for MVP is just motivation to do better. It's going to be a big encouragement."

Coaches haven't needed much encouragement to offer him scholarships. After picking up early scholarship offers from BYU, Stanford and Utah, Filiaga recently added offers from Washington, UNLV and Arizona.

"It's a humbling experience to actually have coaches looking at you and acknowledging the way I play," Filiaga said. "I have a true passion for this, and when people recognize it -- tell me how good I am -- it motivates me to do better. This recruiting process has been a fun process."

Most local observers believe it's going to be extremely tough to get him out of state, but he said he's going to go through the process with an open mind.

"I don't think it's going to be tough to get me out of state if I want to do it," he said. "I'm open to going out of state. It's going to be at what school I think is the best fit for me. I'm not favoring anybody. After my senior season, I'm going to investigate my top five schools."

Virginia also busy in June

Virginia has landed six commitments this month, including an impressive weekend haul that saw three pledges jump on board. That's when Paul Freedman, Kevin Royal and Tyree Watkins joined the Virginia class, which now sits at 16 commitments.

The pledges from Watkins, a receiver from Camden (N.J.) High, and Freedman, a tight end from Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic, were significant. Watkins is one of the best players in New Jersey and is ranked as the nation's No. 62 receiver. He chose Virginia over Arizona State, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers and Stanford. Freedman is the nation's No. 38 tight end and was also offered by Florida International, Duke and Indiana. Royal is a wide receiver from Greenwich (Conn.) Brunswick.

"Coach (offensive coordinator Mike Groh) was telling me about how they are going to a new offense and they will be throwing the ball more," Watkins said. "I liked hearing that."

More notes

• It's not too often that Missouri lets an in-state player get away, but that happened over the weekend when Strafford High offensive lineman Tyler Evans committed to Oklahoma. However, the Tigers didn't wait too long to act after Evans made his choice. The Tigers immediately offered a scholarship to sleeper in-state offensive lineman Justin Britt of Lebanon High, and the 6-5, 267-pounder accepted. The Tigers also landed Southlake (Texas) Carroll defensive end Brayden Burnett. That's the same high school that Tigers star quarterback Chase Daniel attended.

• Auburn remains on a roll, picking up three more commitments over the weekend. Two of the pledges were from athlete LaDarius Perkins of Greenville (Miss.) St. Joseph and Travante Stallworth of Leesville (La.) High. Both have wowed observers with speed, hands and dominating performances in one-on-one drills. Auburn also received a commitment from guard Andre Harris, who hails from Hampton (Ga.) Lovejoy. The Tigers now have 14 commitments, which is almost three times the number they had last year at this time.

• USC's skills camp on Saturday produced news when Las Vegas Palo Verde cornerback Torin Harris picked up an offer from the Trojans. Harris, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound three-star prospect, impressed with a series of hand-timed 40-yard dashes in the low 4.4-second range and a strong effort in one-on-ones. USC also offered 2010 star Robert Woods of Gardena (Calif.) Serra. Woods, a 6-foot, 167-pound receiver, also has offers from Arizona State, Colorado and UCLA.

 
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