Derek Dooley's biggest commitment so far this recruiting season may have just pledged Monday night.
If you've been by Rocky Top Talk any since last night, by now you're aware that Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Volunteers picked up a massive commitment from West Mesquite (Texas) safety Kameron Miles on Monday.
While it became a poorly kept secret over the past few days that Miles would choose Tennessee over other finalists Penn State, Stanford and Arkansas, his decision is a bit surprising for several reasons. First and foremost, Miles has never been to Knoxville and he also has never met Derek Dooley in person. UT's head coach did speak with Miles over Skype -- which impressed the recruit -- and he was recruited by Charlie Coiner and safeties coach Josh Conklin.
But just because Miles hasn't been to Knoxville doesn't mean he isn't solid.
He is planning a visit to campus sometime this summer, and his parents and coaches helped him make this decision and are totally on-board with his commitment, according to Miles. Will Miles take visits? Yes, he indicates that he will to several services. But he also told several recruiting services that he wasn't a Texas or Texas A&M fan. He already has visited Texas and Oklahoma, so there wouldn't be anything there he hasn't seen emerge with an offer from either. Of course, if Miles is taking visits and with the Vols in need-to-win-now mode, UT will have to continue recruiting the star safety, but they will and it's nice to have a commitment this early from a player of his caliber.
So, just how did the Vols snag this kid of out Texas? Miles was impressed with how new Vols defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri told him the Vols wanted to use him. Sunseri envisions Miles -- who is 6-2, 205 already -- being a big, in-the-box safety in the mold of former Alabama safety Mark Barron. Mike Overton, Miles' head coach at West Mesquite was an offensive lineman at UT, and the Vols have made a solid impression on him early.
That was exactly what Miles wanted to hear, apparently, and it seems UT would give him every opportunity to play safety if that's where he wants to play. But as the SB Nation story linked above indicates, he has a big enough frame that he could play outside linebacker -- and play it very well.
Watching Miles' film, he doesn't necessarily look the kind of quick-twitch player who is a formidable, fluid defensive back. His lateral movement is very good, but he doesn't arrive places in a hurry. But he delivers a punch and is better than adequate in coverage, for sure. If he can keep his weight down, he may very well be a star safety in the future, especially against the run and especially if the Vols can eventually move toward the more aggressive man coverage on the islands that Bama currently employs and allow the safeties to creep up and help against the run. If he can't, he'll be a very good linebacker. He is an exceptional tackler and is a big, rangy and intelligent athlete. Miles also wants to major in engineering, so that helped UT as well in his recruitment.
This is the second time in as many years that the Vols have pulled a safety prospect from the Lonestar State, after LaDarrell McNeil committed and signed with UT. Like McNeil, Miles is a major piece of the Vols' transition picture on defense.
Tennessee also sits very highly on the list of Vonn Bell, the Ridgeland (Ga.) HS star and Chattanooga native who has offers from virtually everybody in the nation. UT also sits well with Clarksville (Tenn.) safety Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Immokalee, Fla. prospect Mackenro Alexander, the twin brother of former UT commit and current target Mackensie Alexander.
A commitment like Miles could really get things moving along for the Vols, who now have seven public commitments. Also, it can do nothing but help with a prospect like Bell, who knows he's among the best in the country and wants to play with other great players. So, that should put to rest any worries about whether this commitment would scare off Bell [it won't]. Great players want to compete anywhere they go. Hopefully, the Vols can somehow convince Miles' teammate and good friend Eldridge Massington to back off his USC commitment and join him in Knoxville. [Don't hold your breath.] They once wanted to play together, but Massington began getting offers from all the major teams in the country and chose Lane Kiffin's Trojans.
Miles claimed 30 offers himself and is rated the No. 86 overall player in the country by Rivals and the 10th-ranked safety. 247 Sports rates him as the country's 166th-ranked player and the No. 14 safety in the country. Scout has him as the No. 11 safety in the nation and a four-star player, and ESPN has him as the 12th-ranked safety in the nation.
This is a huge pickup for the Vols, who now need to win and keep him in the fold. Players like Miles are the ones who help you make the leap Tennessee needs to now make. This is a big coup for Dooley and Sunseri. Welcome to Big Orange Country, Mr. Miles!