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Getting to know Tennessee's class of 2007: No. 8, LB Chris Donald

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Introducing No. 8 in Tennessee’s class of 2007: linebacker Chris Donald

You’re a toy.

Yes, you. You’re a toy. I’m a toy. We’re all toys, okay? Athletic 17- and 18-year-old males are playing games with us. And we are paying for the privilege.

Now most won’t come right out and say so, but most aren’t Chris Donald. Chris Donald, he will say so, and I say, good for him.

You see, he told us everything we needed to know waaaaay back on March 27, 2006:

I grew up watching Tennessee. I always wanted to wear the orange and white. Ole Miss was one of the first to offer me so I'm going to show some interest in them, too. I watched Notre Dame a lot this year and I wouldn't mind being recruited by them.

Okay, so let’s camp out there for a minute. Donald grew up watching Tennessee and "always wanted to wear the orange and white." Got it? Always wanted to play for Tennessee. Still, Ole Miss made him his first offer, so he was "going to show some interest" in them. And Notre Dame? Donald "wouldn’t mind being recruited by them" because he "watched [them] a lot this year."

Okay. Now. Pretend you’re a high school girl. You still remember the first boy you went to the movies with in sixth grade. Some poor acne’d doofus named Charles. Yeah, he could gag a maggot off a meat truck, but you filed his number away juuuuuuust in case.

But now you’re a junior, and you’re thinking it would be pretty cool if the senior captain of the football team asked you to the prom. Sure, he’s a jerk -- like totally -- but you wouldn’t mind if he asked because -- hello! -- he’s the captain of the football team!

Still, in your innermost thoughts and daydreams, say like during algebra class, you’re secretly committing all sorts of unpardonables with Prince Charming.

So when Doofus, Jerk, and Prince all simultaneously appear on your doorstep bearing diamonds, whom do you choose?

I think you see my point. Chris Donald told us, almost a year prior to Signing Day, everything we needed to know to conclude that he was All Vol, and when he saw that we weren’t really paying attention, he decided to have a little fun with us.

So when he told us one month later that he had offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Clemson, as well as interest from Notre Dame, Penn State, Florida State, and Miami, we listened and lusted. Donald, like a housecat pinning its prey to the pavement, observed with feigned disinterest. Initially, anyway.

By mid-summer, though, Donald would be tossing us in the air and cackling like Orson on tequila and tonic. In July, he said that he’d narrowed his choices down to Tennessee and Notre Dame, and when he traveled to Knoxville to take in the Air Force game on September 9, he wore an orange sports bracelet on one hand and a green one on the other. At the Florida game the next week, he showed up wearing a shirt bearing both colors.

Donald was certainly enjoying himself as he continued to send mixed signals throughout the fall:

I know people have been worried and worked up. My dad and I have sat back and laughed some and shook our head at how important my decision was to so many people.

While he did display some compassion, quelling an autumn message board rumor that he’d committed to the Irish, for example, he postponed the announcement of his decision until the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 6, 2007, at which point he chose Prince Charming. He said he’d known for "three or four months" that he was going to Tennessee. Officially, Donald had "around" 15 offers, including Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, and . . . Alabama, which, of course, calls for another one of these:

Numbers and stuff

Donald played all four years of high school football. As a freshman, he contributed to his team’s state championship. In 2004, his team was the state runner-up, and Donald had 1,583 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns.

He completely dominated as a junior in 2005. On offense, Donald had 1,637 rushing yards, 287 receiving yards, and 27 touchdowns. As a defensive player, he recorded 120 tackles (32 for a loss), 14 sacks, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one interception. Donald fought a hamstring injury during most of his senior season, and his stats reflected that: 65 tackles (13 for a loss) and five sacks.

Honors? Somebody get me some bullets!

Both Scout and Rivals give Donald five stars. Scout says he’s the No. 2 linebacker in the country and the 47th best player overall nationally. Rivals pegs Donald as the No. 1 player in Tennessee, the No. 1 linebacker in the country, and the 18th best player overall nationally. Rivals also gives him that elusive Franchise Player designation. According to ESPN, Donald is the 3rd best outside linebacker in the country and the 98th best player overall. PrepStar has him as the No. 2 linebacker nationally.

Look, Ma! A YouTube!

Man, this guy is good. Trying to sort through all of the things that people say he does well is dizzying. Luckily, YouTube saves the day:


Rocky Top Talk Mnemonic

He kept us guessing
Vol Orange or Irish Green
We’re Donald’s playthings

Chris Donald, welcome to Tennessee!

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