Roswell (Ga.) cornerback Ethan Nation holds nearly 50 Division 1 offers, and his second Junior Day visit of the year led him to Rocky Top to check out Josh Heupel's program and continue to build a bond with secondary coach Willie Martinez. He discusses the trip to Knoxville with Volunteer Country.
Nation is hearing from "USC, Clemson, Georgia, UNC, Michigan, Michigan State, Texas A&M, Tennessee and a couple of others," but he decided to visit Tennessee because of how they have made him a priority.
"Really, what got me up there was them showing me I was a priority," he said. "Blowing up my phone, texting me, checking in on me, and even coming to the school. It's really what led to me coming up there."
Nation hears the most from Martinez, and the message has been clear about how Tennessee views him.
"He sees me starting day 1, coming in making an impact," Nation said. "What he likes most about me is my ball skills and mindset on and off the field."
The bond between the two is consistently growing as Nation speaks highly of Martinez.
"I like how he always checks up on me, and we don't always talk ball," Nation said. "He's family-oriented and acts like a father figure to me."
The highlight of Nation's trip to Knoxville was simple.
"I enjoyed the opportunity to see the coaches outside of football in a family environment," he said. "(I enjoyed) interacting with the teammates, fans, and other recruits."
Nation will continue taking trips, and College Station is likely the next destination. Then after that, he will start using official visits in the Spring. The only school he knows for sure that is getting an official visit is Oregon.
Heading into those pivotal visits, Nation has no timeline for a commitment as he says he will "commit whenever it feels right for me."
Like most recruits, the opportunity to play early and culture fit are important, but Nation, who plans to major in business, will focus strongly on the opportunities a school can provide him after football.
With countless offers in hand, what makes the 5'11, 180lbs cornerback so special? He shared his opinion when asked.
"You can put me anywhere on the field, and I can make an impact," he said. "I'll do my assignments to the best of my ability. Ball skills, route recognition, and quickness separate me from others. I can play any position."