DEION BONNER, 5-11, 185 CB COLUMBUS, GA. [CARVER HS]
Ratings: Rivals 4* No. 19 cornerback No. 227 overall player in the nation No. 37 player in Georgia, Scout 3* No. 28 safety, ESPN 4* No. 15 cornerback No. 20 player in Georgia, 247 3* No. 35 cornerback. Chose UT over Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Southern Cal, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Florida, others. [Note not all these offers were committable].
STRENGTHS: Has very good size, and his speed is certainly not bad for a big corner. He has elite potential, including some of the best ball skills in this year's class of defensive backs. His break on the ball is excellent, and he has the ability to make players miss when he gets the ball in his hands. Unlike some analysts, I'm actually impressed by his technique. I think he pivots well and really looks impressive when the ball is in the air. He isn't afraid to go up and get it.
NEEDS WORK: Needless to say, his character is a major, major question mark. I don't care how contrite he is, the Vols are taking a major gamble going after him. He is a potential public relations hit for the school if he ever has a brush with trouble, and you've got to think he has a short leash. He isn't as fluid as you'd like your DBs to be, and sometimes, maybe he is a bit too aggressive. He looks very coachable on the field though.
CREDENTIALS: First-team all-state while only playing five games this past year. He also was the MVP of the Georgia All-Star game. Rivals reported his statistics incorrectly for his senior year, but he still had a huge season, registering 53 tackles, including three tackles for a loss, and getting five interceptions. He broke up four passes and forced a fumble. He had two interceptions in the all-star game while covering former UT commitment Keithon Redding.
OPTIMISTIC CEILING: If he doesn't become Janzen Jackson Part Deux [and we're not suggesting he will] he looks to have a bright future in Knoxville. He is more talented than any cornerback on UT's roster except for possibly Justin Coleman. He will have every opportunity to come in and win a starting job. The Vols haven't shown they have anybody who breaks on the ball well, and that is Bonner's forte. He really could be a star, the kind of corner with swagger that you love to see. He reminds me a lot of another Columbus Carver product, Alabama's Dequan Menzie. And Menzie -- who was nearly a Vol -- will be playing a lot on Sundays next year.