KNOXVILLE — In a span of about 10 minutes Monday, the University of Tennessee football program doubled its public commitments for 2012.
Jackson (Tenn.) Christian School receiver Drae Bowles and Dunwoody (Ga.) High School athlete Justin King raised the Volunteers’ total to four.
“I had my choices narrowed down between Tennessee and Vanderbilt. They were neck-and-neck,” the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Bowles said. “The family atmosphere is just unbelievable in Knoxville. I felt the coaching staff and the coaches were very genuine [and] that they sincerely care about the players, not only with football but they want us to excel in our academics.”
One of the Vols’ primary targets since the end of his sophomore year, Bowles also had scholarship offers from Auburn, Ole Miss, Michigan and Notre Dame.
“I think the most important thing that Tennessee football is getting with Drae Bowles is just a class act,” said Matt Underwood, his second-year coach at Jackson Christian. “High-character guy, very humble, very friendly, encouraging, very well-spoken. I think he’s just going to be a great representative of the University of Tennessee football program for the next four years once he gets up there.”
Rivals.com rates Bowles as the No. 109 player and 15th best receiver in the country, and ESPN rates the consensus four-star prospect as the nation’s No. 101 player.
“In terms of just his football-playing ability,” Underwood said, “Tennessee is getting a kid that is going to work really hard. He understands the change that’s coming moving from high school football to SEC football that’s going to take some time for him, but I think he’s willing to put in the time.
“When he gets the ball in his hands, he can do special things. I think that’s probably the first thing that Tennessee saw when they [started] recruiting him. He’s a playmaker and somebody you want to have with the ball in his hands.”
The 6-3, 215-pound King, who plays quarterback and linebacker for Dunwoody, had offers from Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati and Arkansas. The three-star prospect, whom Rivals.com rates as the No. 56 player in Georgia, is projected to play linebacker in college.
UT was the first school to make an offer to Bowles.
“I just had a really good relationship with the coaching staff itself,” he said. “They’ve been with me since day one, when they offered during spring time of my sophomore year. It was a blessing how everything worked out. I’m happy with my decision. I feel like it’s the best decision for me and my family, and in my heart it was just time to commit to Tennessee. I’m really excited.”
Gainesville (Ga.) running back Imani Cross and Austell (Ga.) linebacker Khalid Henderson are the Vols’ other public commitments for 2012. UT’s second high school camp of the summer began Monday and continues through Wednesday.
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrownTFP
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 ...