Aaron Medley had been telling recruiting services and the world on Twitter for months that he'd grown up a huge Tennessee Volunteers fan.
On Wednesday, he proved it.
Less than 24 hours after UT coach Butch Jones extended an official offer to the 6-foot-2, 170-pound placekicker, Medley ended the recruiting process by committing to his self-professed dream school. He is considered by most services as one of the top three or four kickers in the nation, and he'd received early offers from Oklahoma and Texas A&M as well as elevated interest from Ohio State and Arkansas.
Medley announced his intentions via Twitter, then turned around and gushed to several recruiting services about how this was the offer he had waited on his entire life. Medley made 27-of-31 extra points, 3-for-6 on field goals -- including a 50-yarder -- and kicked 31 of his 47 kickoffs for touchbacks. He also averaged 40 yards per kick and was ranked the nation's No. 2 kicker in the 2014 class by Kohl's Professional Camps and No. 10 by Chris Sailer Kicking, according to the GoVols247 story.
When the Vols offered, he took a step back to assess his recruiting options. It didn't take long for his head to take him where his heart had always been. He pulled the trigger for the Vols, where his mentor and kicking coach James Wilhoit played football.
Speaking of Wilhoit, it's been at least that long since the Vols had a dependable kicker on campus -- and even Wilhoit was shaky sometimes. After years of enduring more than our fair share of head-in-the-sand moments from Floridian kickers Daniel Lincoln and Michael Palardy, having a Tennessee boy doing the kicking duties doesn't seem like such a bad thing. Wilhoit and John Becksvoort worked out.
Even closer to home, another kicker from Medley's Southern Middle Tennessee neck-of-the-woods -- Winchester's Jeff Hall -- was the best UT kicker in recent memory. Something in the water down here in God's Country ...
Medley wasn't originally a slam-dunk offer for the Vols, who wanted to see him kick at camp before pulling the trigger. However, with ramped-up interest from some of the top programs in the country, UT almost had to go ahead and offer now. Medley's stock was surging through the roof. He is expected to come in and compete with invited walk-on Andrew Gantz [who will be a freshman this year and chose UT over the same offer from Ohio State] and Knoxville native George Bullock following the shaky Palardy's graduation.
While the Vols have tons of needs in this class and really probably didn't have to go sign a kicker, it's difficult to pass up a kid of Medley's ilk in your back yard ... especially one who was almost a guaranteed commitment. Now, Tennessee will re-assess its scholarships it was going to give out and see where they'll cull a spot at another position.
For all his ballyhooed special teams prowess, former coach Derek Dooley struggled immensely at recruiting quality kickers. Michael Palardy and Matt Darr were originally recruited by Lane Kiffin but retained by Dooley, and neither have panned out thus far. There really hasn't been much heard from Bullock in his abbreviated time on campus, either. Finally, Dooley did nothing to enhance the Vols' depth at the position by getting quality walk-ons, something Jones already has shown a prowess in doing.
But Medley -- for all intents and purposes -- was worth a scholarship, and he got one. Now, he'll get to play for his lifelong favorite, and hopefully we can move beyond the days of special teams killing us as a football program. His commitment solidifies Tennessee in third place on the 247Sports and second in the Rivals rankings. With a Dominique Booth commitment Friday, UT is expected to take over sole possession of first place in the recruiting rankings.
Welcome aboard, Aaron! Can you come in and kick immediately?