Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) weakside defensive end Malik Brown was all set to leave the sunny Florida beaches for frigid upstate New York and the Syracuse Orangemen.
Instead, a last-minute trip to Tennessee sold him on coming to Knoxville and being a part of Butch Jones' rebuilding job at UT. The 6-foot-3, 253-pound defensive end committed to the Vols on Wednesday, choosing UT over Syracuse -- where he'd been committed nearly two months -- and Willie Taggert's South Florida Bulls. Brown also had offers from N.C. State and Minnesota. Brown is rated a three-star prospect by 247 and Rivals.
Brown joins fellow defensive end Jaylen Miller and four-star quarterback Joshua Dobbs as Tennessee National Signing Day commitments. That makes commitment No. 21 for UT, and the Vols appear to be done barring a post-NSD commitment such as former LSU defensive tackle Tevin Lawson, who may bear watching over the next few weeks. Lawson was asked to grayshirt with the Tigers, and he may look at other SEC schools rather than do so.
Brown hails from Dwyer High, the home school of Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt. Like Maggitt, Brown has a similar story of body transformation to make himself into a major college prospect. Here's a great story from the Palm Beach Post about Brown making his body "hurricane-proof" using a personal trainer. Maggitt gained 34 pounds his senior year and was heavily recruited by many major programs. Similarly, Brown put on more than 30 pounds this year and interest from college programs picked up.
In recent days following last weekend's visit to Knoxville, Brown agonized over a decision and voiced his plight over Twitter. In the end, staying closer to home and getting to play in the SEC were too big lures for the Vols.
This commitment may not ease the sting of not getting Vonn Bell, but it does help meet a major need. UT now has three defensive ends in this class -- Brown, Miller and Jason Carr.
We'll keep you posted if any other breaking news develops on National Signing Day or after. Welcome to Big Orange Country, Malik!