Thursday night’s Twitter announcement from West Columbia, South Carolina, punter Paxton Brooks that he’d committed to Tennessee may not have gotten you all hot and bothered.
Maybe it should have (at least in football terms, of course).
The 6’5″, 170-pound specialist chose the Vols over offers from North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Army. No, those aren’t the best football programs in the country, but Brooks is an Under Armour All-American, so he must be doing something right.
Brooks gives Tennessee a commit at a much-needed area of need with stud senior Trevor Daniel set to run out of eligibility and head to the NFL after 2017. Former Farragut punter Joe Doyle — himself another former Under Armour All-American — is a walk-on at UT with a high upside, but the Vols needed to make sure they had a viable player at a vital position.
If you don’t think so, fast forward to the 2:18 point of this video to recall Daniel’s punt against Georgia in 2015 — one of the pivotal plays in a crucial win.
Yeah, what were you saying again?
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones does a great job recruiting kickers, and while getting their commitments aren’t going to cause many to dance in the streets, they’re necessary. Brooks has the potential to be a good one.
When it comes to kickers, few services are more well-known than Kohl’s, who ranks him the second-best punter in the nation. The Vols moved on from the hiccup-quick commitment of Skyler DeLong, who pledged to UT before visiting — and ultimately flipping — to Alabama back earlier this summer.
“Ever since I came to campus for the first time, I fell in love with Tennessee,” Brooks told VolQuest’s Jesse Simonton and Austin Price.
That’s good news for UT, who needs Brooks to stick and be a stud. Here are some highlights from his junior year, where he hit 8-of-10 field goals and averaged 41 yards per punt.
Brooks will have some huge shoes to fill in big-booted Daniel, who went from walk-on to revelation in Knoxville following the resurgence of Michael Palardy and Matt Darr in their final two years at UT. Everybody knows about the Colquitts, and UT has done a very good job grabbing punters over the years. Maybe Brooks is the next in a long line of strong kickers.
With spots already at a premium to fill out this class, the Vols now have 21 pledges. It’s going to be interesting to see how they fill the remaining handful of spots. You have to think that cornerback Joe Horn and offensive lineman Jerome Carvin are two of the biggest targets remaining on the board. Beyond that, the Vols would almost certainly not turn away two pass-rushing defensive ends, and they’re targeting some big names. But they also would like to add a receiver or two, and that would put them over what presumably would be the 25 players they’re allotted.
Jones rarely has an issue with numbers and makes them work out, but with such a strong group of prospects in the fold, it’s going to be interesting to see who — if any — the Vols cut loose or try to convince to get creative to make the numbers work. Regardless, as Brooks’ tweet says, he’s got a full scholarship, which means he’ll take a spot in that class, if accurate.
Still, it’s always good to have a good punter.