Andrew Butcher has been thought to be a University of Tennessee lean for a long time. On Saturday, he visited Knoxville for the third time and wound up committing to the program where he has plenty of family ties.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound 2015 defensive end from Alpharetta High School in [the alma mater of UT quarterback signee Joshua Dobbs] chose Tennessee over official early offers from Arkansas, West Virginia, Utah and Connecticut. Butcher knew where he wanted to be, and he made it official on Saturday -- much to the surprise of nobody.
Once Butcher fell in love with UT, the only school that had a chance to sway him was Clemson, where his father Brian played on a national championship team. However, the Tigers have not yet offered, and coach Butch Jones ramped up the early pressure on a kid still 28 months from being able to play for the Vols. He has drawn interest from several SEC programs yet to pull the trigger such as Georgia, Florida, Vanderbilt and Auburn. But the Vols have been on him almost immediately since Jones took over, and Butcher really responded to the elevated interest and reciprocated it.
Again, we stress that we haven't seen this level of prospect identification and commitment results from future players in, well, ever in Knoxville. Texas also has four commits for the '15 class, and Bama has three. Butcher joins offensive linemen Zach Stewart of Coalfield, Jack Jones of Murfreesboro Oakland and Lenoir City athlete Jaylond Woods as Tennessee pledges for next year's class.
As for Butcher, he has the ability to bulk up to 250-260 pounds and be a Will Overstreet-type pass-rushing defensive end for Tennessee. He is constantly working with former UT defensive end Constantin Ritzmann, who is a coach in the Alpharetta area. He also has worked out in the same program as last year's five-star DE from Milton High and Tennessee target Carl Lawson, who flirted with the Vols late before signing with Auburn. He also could stay long and lean and play linebacker, a position at which some teams were recruiting him.
Butcher is nowhere near done getting offers, but it will be difficult to overcome the Vols here. Brian Butcher may have gone to Clemson but he's from Knoxville, and the Butchers have family who are huge UT fans. If the Clemson Tigers offer, there may be some competition, but that's about the only thing that could throw a wrench into the process. His main recruiters were UT running backs coach Robert Gillespie and defensive line coach Steve Stripling.
He told 247Sports he'd consider visiting other schools throughout his high school career, depending on Jones' policy about that. With UT desperately needing some beef and maybe not having a ton of early success on either line in the 2014 class, having two offensive linemen and a defensive lineman committed for '15 is encouraging. Butcher was a player Jones identified early, pushed to get and secured a commitment.
Welcome to Knoxville, Andrew!