Tennessee’s big haul of Georgia football talent

Tennessee's Butch Jones (AP)

Tennessee’s Butch Jones (AP)

Alvin Kamara, the AJC’s Mr. Georgia Football for 2012, hasn’t played for Tennessee in a game yet, but he has already made a big impression in Rocky Top.

The speedy tailback started classes at Tennessee in January after spending one year at a Kansas junior college.

If you remember, Kamara signed with Alabama out of Norcross High School, but he had a rough beginning to his college career – opting to transfer from the Crimson Tide immediately after his freshman season.

Kamara got a fresh start at Tennessee, and it only took two months to win over his new coach.

“Alvin Kamara is a very, very driven young man,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones told the AJC.

“He has walked into our football family, and it was like he has been here a number of years. I think he’s really embraced Tennessee football, but also our players have embraced him. He’s earned that right. He’s worked exceptionally hard.

“He’s actually developing into one of the leaders of our football team. He has earned the respect of his peers, and he started to do that immediately when he came into our program.”

Perhaps no out-of-state college recruited Georgia this year as well at Tennessee, which signed eight players from the state – and there were some headliners. Kamara was ranked as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect out of junior college; Lovejoy’s Preston Williams is Georgia’s top prospect at wide receiver since Da’Rick Rogers was ranked as the state’s No. 1 recruit in 2009; and Tennessee held off late charges by Ohio State, UGA and Florida for Creekside offensive lineman Venzell Boulware.

“We’re excited about all our Atlanta kids and our Georgia kids,” Jones said. “You know, a number of them have a common thread: Not only are they great high school football players, but they are great individuals. They are kids of character. They have great families as well.

“We consider the Atlanta area and Georgia as home territory when you look at the proximity. We have tremendous inroads there, and we’ve built relationships with the high school coaches there. So that’s obviously a big area of emphasis for us in our recruiting efforts with rebuilding Tennessee football.”

Jones also turned heads by edging out UGA for Greater Atlanta Christian defensive back Micah Abernathy. Micah’s older bother signed with Jones in 2011 when he coached at Cincinnati, but Jones left two seasons later. The early departure of Jones could’ve been a negative with the Abernathy family with Micah’s recruiting. But it turned out to be a positive. The family’s relationship and trust factor with Jones were main reasons why Micah signed with Tennessee (The older brother, Ralph David IV, has also joined the Volunteers as a fifth-year senior transfer after graduating from Cincinnati in December).

“I have a lot of respect for that family,” Jones said. “That’s relationships, and we’ve had a great long-standing relationship with the Abernathy family for many years. And I’m excited that that’s going to be able to continue.”

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