Getting to know Tennessee's class of 2007: No. 16, DT William Brimfield

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Introducing No. 16 in Tennessee’s class of 2007, defensive tackle William Brimfield.

Big kid + teasing = defensive tackle

Brimfield wasn’t always practically 6'6" (duh). A "short and heavy" kid, he was apparently teased ruthlessly by his peers. Brimfield found motivation in this and did what kids his size are destined to do: he took up football.

As a freshman in high school, Brimfield played offensive guard and linebacker. The real fun began his second year, as he continued to grow taller and wider. Now a defensive tackle, his coaches started telling him that he could have a real future in football, as it seemed that he could still move quite well no matter how much he grew. Alas, in 2005, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School put together a 2-8 season, and Brimfield’s overwhelmed coach neglected to put together any tape to send to college recruiters and failed to introduce him to the camp and combine circuit.

+ experienced HS coach = NC commit

In 2006, new head coach (and former player for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens) Jermaine Derricott got hold of Brimfield and guided Brimfield from relative obscurity to highly desired college prospect in the span of a single season. First up was a June camping trip to North Carolina during which Brimfield performed so well he received a scholarship offer on the spot. Brimfield accepted almost immediately. Rivals and Scout soon started throwing stars at him (three each) and telling him that he was the 28th best (Rivals) or the 57th best (Scout) defensive tackle in the nation. Although other schools, including Tennessee, continued to recruit him, Brimfield stayed true to the Powder Blue. At least until . . . well, we’ll get to that in a minute.

Brimfield took up the task of proving himself worthy of his ratings during his senior season at H-K-T. He piled up 83 (or 100) tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, nine (or 12) sacks, three (or five) forced fumbles, and three (undisputed!) fumble recoveries. Brimfield made first-team All-State and All-Region and was named to the South Carolina preseason Elite 11 by the Orangeburg Times and Democrat.

- NC HC = free agent

And then, in October, 2006, North Carolina fired head coach John Bunting after a poor performance on national t.v. against Virginia. Because Bunting was one of the main reasons he had committed to North Carolina, Brimfield immediately de-committed, and several schools, including Tennessee, took advantage of the opportunity. "Tennessee had actually never stopped recruiting me, even after I committed to UNC," Brimfield said. "When my high school coach called coach [Dan] Brooks and told him that I was opening things back up, he came right down here and visited with me."

+ compassion – SC = UT commit

Not long after that, in the first quarter of his final game at H-K-T, Brimfield dislocated a shoulder.  Interestingly, it was this injury that ultimately led Brimfield to Rocky Top. "That was special," Brimfield said. "I was coming out after surgery. I'm not committed and you're showing me how much you want me. That actually meant something to me."

Still, Brimfield said as late as December 10, 2006, that it was between South Carolina and North Carolina, and that he was going to cancel his scheduled visit to Tennessee. Well, apparently something happened between then and January 12, 2007, the day that Brimfield both visited Tennessee’s campus and committed to play for the Vols.

When asked why he committed to Tennessee, Brimfield cited many reasons: the awesomeness of Neyland Stadium, a display of good sportsmanship, the old stand-by – family atmosphere, the opportunity for early-playing time, a pitch from friend and fellow 2007 recruit DeAngelo Willingham, and coach Dan Brooks’record of putting defensive tackles in the NFL.

It could be, though, that Brimfield’s commitment to Tennessee was as much about what other suitors did wrong than what the Vols did right. As mentioned earlier, North Carolina essentially lost Brimfield when it fired Bunting. And Brimfield really doesn’t like South Carolina. A few noteworthy quotes:

I really disliked being pressured by the coaches from the University of South Carolina. A coach was trying to get me to commit to South Carolina before my time when I was ready or when I wanted to. I wasn’t cool with that.

*    *    *    *

South Carolina [asked me to commit or lose my offer.] They were the only school that did. I basically said, "I’ve got other schools out there that have offered me scholarships. Y’all go ahead and do what you’ve got to do."

*    *    *    *

I never really got along with [South Carolina’s] coaches. I actually got into an argument with one of the assistant coaches there.

*    *    *    *

[South Carolina] kind of threw me off with the discipline of their team. There are a lot of their players always getting into trouble, and that kind of pushed me away from USC.

*    *    *    *

[A] coach, I don't want to say which one, actually told me on the phone one night that if I left the state I wouldn't get insurance. My uncle was sitting next to me and he heard him say it, and he just said "hang up the phone son, that's ridiculous."

Perhaps as ridiculous as this? I’m just saying.

Anyway, Brimfield turned down offers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Clemson, and North Carolina State to come play for the Volunteers.

Mr. Big, Fast, and Nasty

So that’s the story, but what can he do? Well, first remember that he’s almost 6’6" and 290 pounds. Despite his size, he can apparently really move, as evidenced by his 4.5 shuttle time. He’s also very versatile and athletic, as he has played defensive end, offensive tackle, tight end, and, get this, placekicker. Really. He played on his high school basketball team as well.

Brimfield is both self-motivated and coachable, and he is always seeking advice from those who know more than he does. When asked which three people he would love to have dinner with, he chose his grandmother (who raised him and passed away in 2002), Justin Harrell and Tony McDaniel so that he could learn from them. And best, Brimfield is, as all good defensive tackles should be, polite and well-mannered off the field but nice and nasty on it.

I go in with the mindset as I look at my opponent as if they had picked on my mother and my sister or something. I go out there and visualize that and attack.

Rocky Top Talk Mnemonic

Tar Heels fire their coach
Open door for Vols to grab
Big, Fast, and Nasty

William Brimfield, welcome to Tennessee!

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