FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Make no mistake about it, there's no doubt that Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice four-star offensive tackle Darris Sawtelle is a Tennessee Volunteer commitment.
The 6-foot-6, 295-pounder arrived for check in at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl with a black hat with a bright orange Tennessee T on the front of it.
By the time the game is over on Thursday, he hopes to show the Volunteer fans why he was one of Phillip Fulmer's earliest scholarship offers. He might also try to do a little recruiting for the Vols, too.
"I'm want to show people that I am what I am," Sawtelle, who will play for the East squad in the 7 p.m. broadcast on ESPNU. "I want to show people that I am an All-American. Just because I committed so early, it doesn't mean I'm a bad football player. It means you know what you want and you know what you're going to do.
"To be honest is to represent myself, my school and the type of player that will play at Tennessee. If there is a guy that's undecided and he wants to talk about UT, then I'd be the guy to talk to. I had the obvious family ties, but I did commit there early because of other reasons. It doesn't get much better than Tennessee, and I hope to show the UT fans what they're getting."
Sawtelle said he's excited about the opportunity playing in an All-American game will give him. But he said his excitement is hard to compare what his family is feeling about his selection to the inaugural game.
"I've got 30 people coming that are family or friends," he said. "Some of them have always heard about me playing football from the grapevine, but now they'll get a real opportunity to see me play football. So I have to perform for them.
"It's going to my immediate family, of course. Then there's my grandmother and grandfather, and they've seen me play about every game. Some cousins, aunts and uncles will be here, too, and then outside of that a lot of my grandparents friends. My grandfather is really proud of me."
His grandfather Darris McCord was an All-American at Tennessee and played in the NFL with the Detroit Lions for 13 years. Sawtelle is ranked as one of the nation's elite offensive tackles, coming in at No. 10 at the position and No. 6 overall in Michigan.
Sawtelle said he's pumped that he'll get to carry on his grandfather's Volunteer bloodlines. He's also pumped up about the talent that he'll have to play with when he arrives in Knoxville.
"How about this?" Sawtelle said when explaining the reasons why he's pumped about his future with Tennessee.
"They have the No. 3 recruiting class. I've got great guys to play with like Donald Langley, Chris Walker and we have some great talent coming in. It's going to be fun to play with them. It doesn't matter who you're playing against, but it's who you practice with that makes you a better player."