Butch Jones and Andrew Gantz are not strangers.
For the past few years while Jones coached Cincinnati, Gantz -- a 5-foot-9, 170-pound kicker from Dayton, Ohio, would camp with the Bearcats. The two got to know each other and developed a relationship.
On Thursday, the three-star kicker and No. 8 kicker in the country according to 247Sports, accepted a preferred walk-on offer to join Jones and his new staff at the University of Tennessee. He's also rated as high as No. 6 in the nation, and his highlight video shows him hitting 50, 55 and 60 yard field goals. He was a member of Chris Sailer Kicking "Event Elite" top 12 kicker as well [whatever that is.]
Gantz had an offer from Utah and other smaller schools. He is known for having a good, strong leg and a quick swing, which is something that has plagued Michael Palardy during his time at UT. Gantz will compete with Palardy and George Bullock for placekicking duties this next year and especially in the future. He is also an exceptional kickoff specialist.
According to Sailer's website:
"Andrew is an outstanding kicker. He is a great athlete that kicks with nice consistency. Field goals are near the top of his class and kickoffs are D1 ready. A fine young man with a great attitude and work ethic. Kicks well under pressure. Has all the tools to excel at the college level. Is going to be a fine college kicker. Great pick up for Tennessee."
That site gives him its highest classification of a five-star kicker.
Gantz is the second specialist in the past week to accept a preferred walk-on offer from Jones. The other is Brad Spelman -- who is featured nicely here by GoVols247's Wes Rucker ($)) -- a 6-2, 205-pound longsnapper fromm Hilliard, Ohio, who was also offered preferred walk-on status by Cincinnati and Penn State. He visited Penn State this past weekend, but he committed to UT this week. Though J.R. Carr will retain his long-snapping role barring injury this year, Spelman will compete with Tennessee native and former Michigan State starter Matt Giampapa for the long-snapper job in two years.
- In other news, Tennessee today offered 247Sports four-star offensive tackle George Adeosun of Alpharetta High. He is the teammate of UT QB target Joshua Dobbs, and he visited Oklahoma this past weekend. Adeosun is a great story as a month ago he was committed to William & Mary. Then, his film got out and he blew up, picking up offers from the Sooners, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Missouri, among others. He's super-athletic, and looks to take the spot of Dan Skipper if UT can get him on campus.
- Speaking of Skipper, he decommitted officially from UT this week, following Sam Pittman to Arkansas.
- All three finalists are taking their last swing at five-star safety Vonn Bell today, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Ohio State defensive coordinator Everett Withers was in first this morning, and then Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart followed. Tonight, UT assistants will visit with the family while Butch Jones meets Ridgeland head coach Mark Mariakis for dinner. Read the details from Stephen Hargis here.
- The Vols will make their final push for Johanthan Ford with an in-home visit from Butch Jones tonight, too. It's going to be a busy, long night for the UT head coach.