Getting to know Tennessee's class of 2007: No. 5, RB Lennon Creer

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Introducing No. 5 in Tennessee’s class of 2007: running back Lennon Creer

No, not this Lennon:

This Lennon:

Imagine

Imagine you’re on the Tennessee Volunteer coaching staff trying to prioritize recruits for the 2007 class. You need wide receivers desperately. Ditto defensive backs. Linemen are up there, too. Shoot, the only players you’re not really concerned about are linebackers and running backs.

But there’s this guy, see, down in the Lone Star State, name of Lennon Creer, who’s been piling up the stats. He rushed for 1,263 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore, but he was just warming up for a junior season during which he rushed for 16 touchdowns and an astounding 2,065 yards.

Okay, so what? People go from Tennessee to Texas, not the other way around, remember? But heeeeyyyyy, isn't assistant coach Trooper Taylor from Texas? Yeah? Well, let’s just send him down there and see what he can do. Perhaps We Can Work It Out.

Day Tripper

Taylor would have his work cut out for him. By the time Tennessee entered the picture in May, 2006, the Burnt Orange UT had already offered one of its much-coveted scholarships to Creer, who had attended its Junior Day in February, 2006. Most players would have jumped at the chance to commit to their in-state reigning national champion, but for some reason, Creer decided to wait a bit, and in April, Creer day-tripped to his other childhood favorite, the Oklahoma Sooners.

By the beginning of May, Creer had narrowed his list down to four schools: Texas, Oklahoma, LSU, and Miami. By the end of May, both Florida and Tennessee had joined the pursuit.

Meanwhile, Texas was piling up the commitments, and they decided to give Creer an ultimatum: commit by June 4 or we’ll give your scholarship to someone else. Creer didn’t much care for that tactic, and, due in part to his sister being involved in an auto accident (she was okay), he let the deadline pass. The Texas coaches apparently knew about the accident and even offered to have Creer come back for another visit, but the damage was done:

I told them, they knew about it, and they're trying to get me to come back down there this weekend. I'm not for sure if I'm going. Probably not. I didn't like the fact that they put me on a deadline in the first place. I just felt like they're trying to push me into a commitment and I'm not ready to commit.

By mid-June, then, Creer had a list of five: Florida, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. He also tripped to Oklahoma State in June with teammate Darnius Moore.

During the last week of July, Creer drove 2,292 yards (764 miles), each way, to Knoxville for an unofficial visit. The trip alone evidenced a high degree of interest, and some 4,584 yards 1,500 miles later (which incidentally is 300 yards shy of what he gained on a football field over his last two years of high school!), Creer declared it worth every mile and announced that Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Miami were his top four. By August, he had substituted Florida for Miami.

After official visits to Tennessee (in September for the Marshall game) and Oklahoma (in October), Creer whittled the list down to Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and . . . Texas, which he had inexplicably re-added to the list. Just Because. And then, by late November, Creer had it down to three: Oklahoma, Tennessee, and . . . Georgia. Huh?

Help!

In Creer’s defense, he seemed to be in dire need of some relief from the incessant phone calls from recruiters and recruiting services, especially since he was trying to help his high school team win a second straight state championship. In fact, Creer did just that, and rushed for 36 (!) touchdowns and 2,835 (!!) yards in the process. That’s just short of 5,000 yards in two seasons, folks, so sorry if he doesn’t have time to return your calls. Performances like these generally require Eight Days a Week work schedules:

More video, from CSTV.

By the end of the season, Creer’s hard work had paid off and earned him an impressive list of honors:

Come Together

So it wasn’t until after the final snap of Creer’s high school career that the recruiting game really began to come together. While big-time suitors were beckoning, Rivals was giving Creer four stars and saying that he was the 6th best running back and the 57th best prospect overall in the nation. Scout was also giving Creer four stars and saying that he was the 10th best running back and the 79th best player overall in the nation. ESPN had him as the 8th best running back nationally.

As the ratings began to fall into place, recruiters began to become more proactive. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and our very own Trooper Taylor both visited with Creer in his home in December, and both of their respective schools stayed in the mix along with Florida and Texas.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Then in January, things just got weird. First, Creer took a surprise visit to Alabama. Then, he announced that he intended to take an unexpected official visit to Texas, and he went public to stifle a message board rumor that he had refused to take a picture with players from Texas at the Offense-Defense All-America game.

On February 1, 2007, Creer finally quit messing with Texas and the rest of them and announced his commitment to Tennessee. There was no gimmicky hat selection ceremony, no amusing rhymes, no fanfare at all really, just Creer and his teammate and friend Darnius Moore saying that they’d both be going to Tennessee. There’s some temptation here to make a John and Yoko joke about Creer and Moore, but besides being entirely unfair to Moore, it would also be inaccurate to suggest that Creer/Moore was a package deal. Moore would have been a fantastic catch with or without Creer.

Give Peace a Chance?

Get this. Right after Creer announced his commitment, he mentioned that he had made up his mind on his way back from his Alabama visit the night before the announcement. Now that there’s something special. Not only did his trip to Tuscaloosa sell him on Tennessee, it abruptly ended nearly 12 months of indecision.

Creer said that he called Alabama to let them know he’d be going to Tennessee before announcing his decision publicly. I don’t know what he said to them, but y’all know what I would have said:

Hard Day’s Night

So credit coaches Taylor and Fulmer once again. Sure, Creer liked the academics, the family atmosphere, the stadium, and Tennessee’s history of putting running backs into the NFL. But mostly he just liked the people, specifically coaches Fulmer and Taylor, who lured him to Tennessee. What do you know? Sometimes people do go from Texas to Tennessee.

Rocky Top Talk Mnemonic

He's not a Beatle
But this Lennon’s still music
To Volunteers’ ears

Lennon Creer, welcome to Rocky Top! Don't Let Me Down.

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