January 17, 2011

Does picture Clear for prized TE?

The ride back to Memphis was a bit of a long one for heralded tight end prospect Cameron Clear, since he departed Knoxville with his beloved New England Patriots trailing the New York Jets.

Otherwise, however, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound All-State performer from Memphis Central very much relished his official visit this weekend to the University of Tennessee. The four-star tight end and No. 2 prospect in the state of Tennessee remains one of the top targets left on the Volunteers' board as they zero in on the last half-dozen spots in their 2011 class. Signing day is Feb. 2.

"I had a great time. I enjoyed spending time with the players and coaches," said Clear, hosted by Corey Miller. "I got a chance to sit down with coach (Jim) Chaney, look over the offense and see where I would fit in. See about building relationships and making the relationships I do have even stronger. That's what my decision will be based off, building relationships with the coaches and players I'm going to be around."

While singling out the peer panel discussion with several current Vols and the experience at Saturday's basketball game as key moments to the trip, Clear perhaps gained the most from his extensive time with Chaney exploring the Xs and Os of the Vols' offensive mastermind's system.

"It was good. They throw to the tight end a lot in the offense," said Clear, who had more than 20 receptions, six touchdowns, eight sacks and 46 tackles on both sides of the ball this season. "My size is the type of size coach (Derek) Dooley is looking for at tight end. And the depth chart is very limited at the tight end position. That just opened things up for me to see."

Clear's eyes were further opened to the Vols' message by his host. Miller, a rising sophomore defensive lineman from Duncan (Byrnes), S.C., was one of 16 true freshmen who played significant minutes for Tennessee during the 2010 season. Dooley's first squad ranked in the top three nationally in terms of true freshmen who played. Miller was among a handful of rookies who appeared in all 13 games for Tennessee.

"(Miller) told me that they love playing freshman to give them a chance," Clear said, "and that it would be easy to come right in and play right away with hard work."

Clear also appreciated the unique peer panel setup that Tennessee's coaches had formed with current players. In that setting this weekend recruits got to quiz current players on essentially any aspect of college life. It's something Clear has not encountered in any of his other college stops.

"It was cool. It just gave us a chance to see what it was really like there," he said. "We could just ask questions that weren't really pertaining to football or just about the program. They gave us a chance to really see how it was.

"Oh yes sir, it does a lot [to help players understand]."

No stranger to Knoxville, Clear saw the Vols' passionate fan base on display at Saturday's game, a common theme among recruits.

"I mean, the fans really love the football program as well as the basketball program," Clear said of the ovation recruits received inside Thompson-Boling Arena. "They support them."

On this day, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Memphis native Clear also feels a greater support than ever before.

"I mean, it makes me feel strong because I have the right to do a lot of stuff that they didn't back then," Clear said of the day's historical significance. "I'm going to take advantage of it and live life."

A four-star prospect and No. 2 in the state of Tennessee, as well as in the top 150 nationally, Clear will visit Alabama and Auburn before making a final decision. He lists Tennessee, Alabama and Duke as his top three schools right now and said it "will probably be on signing day" before he announces his college choice.

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