Remember when Preston Williams took that infamous visit to Auburn?

Preston Williams always attract a crowd (AJC)

Preston Williams always attract a crowd (AJC)

Would an SEC school encourage one of its top football prospects to take a visit to a rival school for the purpose of recruiting other players?

That sounds like something out of a James Bond movie.

But this is the football-mad SEC, and that conspiracy theory was discussed on various message boards after Preston Williams, arguably Tennessee’s top signee for this year, took an official visit to Auburn shortly before signing day.

Williams is a senior from Lovejoy High School, and he’s the state’s highest-rated WR prospect in more than five years, so the stakes were high.

You may have heard some of what happened on that Auburn visit last January because it was all over the Internet — Williams was asked to leave early “because he showed up wearing nothing but Tennessee apparel and was actively recruiting other visitors to join him at Tennessee,” according to RockyTopInsider.com. (You can read more about Preston’s action-packed trip here)

So back to our question: Did Tennessee instruct Williams to visit a rival in order to recruit other players for the Volunteers? And also to wear bright orange gear while on Auburn’s campus?

“I can assure you that we had nothing to do with that,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones told the AJC a few days ago. “You know, we did not even mention that to him.

“You know, I think what happened is that Preston developed an affinity and passion for Tennessee football. And individuals in the recruiting process sometimes want to take other visits. He elected to do that. And that was all him.”

To me, it seems kind of risky for any college to encourage one of its top recruits to visit any other campus – simply because your player could end up liking it too much. But it sure makes for fun topic of conversation. College football recruiting can truly be wacky, and anything can and does happen.

But training 5-stars as spies? And then dispatching them on convert operations? That seems like a plot out right of the eight episodes of “The Americans” that I watched last weekend (by the way, I enjoyed every minute of it).

I asked Jones if he had ever heard of anything like that in all of his years of recruiting. And he has ever felt like a kid took an official visit with him for the purpose of recruiting for another school?

“I think those are conspiracy theories,” Jones said with a chuckle.

“Now I think we all get paranoid. We’re all competing again each other on the field and off the field. I think at times, people get paranoid.

“But no, I’ve never felt that.”

What are your thoughts? Please post below.


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