Top Tennessee Target Announces Commitment Date

Volunteer Country Staff

One of Tennessee’s top targets remaining on their recruiting board is Payton Page, an enormous 6’4’’ 345 pound defensive tackle from Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.. The rising senior announced his final three schools on April 16th, naming the University of Tennessee, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Clemson University as the schools that were in the lead.

Today the North Carolina native announced that he would make his decision public on July 28th giving the Vols some time to attempt to overtake Clemson as the front-runner. Page’s recruitment has been a wild one with a multitude of twists and turns along the way. Just a few weeks ago it appeared as though Tennessee, who was extremely hot on the recruiting trail, was trending for Page, however, that momentum now appears to have been neutralized by Clemson, with both schools battling for position down the stretch.

However, it's also extremely important not to overlook North Carolina as a factor, as Mack Brown and the Tar Heels have been absolutely dominating the recruiting trail recently — especially within their own state. While they may not have the prestige that Tennessee and Clemson have, they do have one thing that the Vols and Tigers will never be able to offer: distance to home. If it is important for Page to remain close to his family, then the Tar Heels could become a major threat.

As for what Page’s thoughts are on Knoxville, Sports Illustrated’s very own Matthew Ray had the opportunity to speak with him back on January 15th, after he had wrapped up his unofficial visit to Rocky Top. “(It) was a family style visit,” Page told VR2 of SI. “I loved the environment, and the facilities were amazing.”

While the environment and facilities that Tennessee offers are very much a factor in Page’s decision, the main thing that makes Knoxville an attractive destination for the coveted recruit is “their defensive line legacy,” in his own words. It’s no secret that the Volunteers have a long and lavish history along the defensive line, as NFL legends such as Reggie White and Doug Atkins have all made their legacy at Tennessee before entering the big league.

Back when Page made the trip to Tennessee’s campus, he said that his favorite part of the visit was that the Volunteers used his time in Knoxville to get to know him rather than simply make a recruiting pitch, however, the Vols staff did eventually get down to business with Page by telling him just how much of an impact he could make in orange and white. “Their message has been that I can be an immediate impact,” said Page during the exclusive interview with VR2.

Our own Matthew Ray also asked Page what it looked like as a recruit to see Tennessee’s completely miraculous turnaround; recovering from an abysmal 1-4 start to finish the year as TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Champions with an 8-5 record. It may not have been an elite season, but the determination and never-quit mentality that the Vols put on full display during the season “showed their heart and how much potential they have,” according to Page.

Jimmy Brumbaugh and the Volunteers will continue to push for the elite talent, but for now, Vol fans will have to wait until July 28th to learn where Page will continue his career.

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