By Alex Norman
New Tennessee head coach Butch Jones knows the importance of recruiting to the success of a football program. So it was no surprise that he talked about recruiting in the early stages of his introductory press conference on December 7th.
What was a surprise, at least compared to the reported indifference of his predecessor, was how much Jones stressed making connections with high school football players and coaches in this state.
“You win with players. We are the state institution and we will own our state,” said Jones. “We are going to be at every high school in the state and our players are going to understand what is to wear the Power T. They’re going to understand what it is to represent their home institution. “
One of the players paying attention was Malik Foreman, from Dobyns Bennett High School in Kingsport.
“I didn’t think I was gonna get recruited by Tennessee until there was a coaching change,” said Foreman. “Butch Jones said he was gonna recruit the state, my eyes got real big like… they might look at me. They offered a bunch of in state kids. It feels good that they are starting to recruit the state more.”
Foreman, a three star athlete according to 247sports, had verbally committed to Vanderbilt back in the November. But when Jones offered him a scholarship, Knoxville won out over Nashville.
“Me and my Mom and Dad talked about it, prayed about it, and just felt that Tennessee was a better place for me,” said Foreman. “I grew up watching them, it was a dream to play there, and it is a dream come true.
That meant telling James Franklin and the Commodores coaching staff that he wouldn’t be wearing the black and gold.
“It was very hard to de-commit. It was hard to call them and tell them I was de-committing, but it was something I felt I had to do,” said Foreman.
“They were disappointed and hurt. I gave them my word and went back on that. But they wished me luck and said they would respect my decision and just go on from there.”
Foreman will sign with Tennessee in February, and is expected to get some early looks at cornerback or slot receiver. He’ll bring his much needed 4.4 speed to Jones and the Vols in June.
“He’s a great guy,” Foreman said about Jones. “He’s got a lot of fire to him, a lot of energy, and he stresses the family atmosphere. I can’t wait to get down there with him. It feels great that my instate school wants me to play football for them. I’m gonna wear the orange and wear it proud.”
Foreman added, “I’m gonna work out, get a lot of protein in me, and just get bigger and faster every day. You gotta get the game plan down all the schemes and stuff, get ready for the SEC and if you can play get ready for it.”