Tennessee Football Recruiting: Top 5 Most Likely Recruits for 2012

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2011

Tennessee Football Recruiting: Top 5 Most Likely Recruits for 2012

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    There are a lot of questions for the Tennessee Volunteers heading into the 2011 football season.

    How will Derek Dooley fair in his second year as head coach?

    What can young sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray do in his first full season as the starter?

    Does Tennessee get back to SEC dominance or do the Vols continue to rebuild through four star recruits?

    It's all going to depend on what Dooley and the coaching staff can put together.

    Tennessee doesn't have the most athletic and talented guys around, but their 2011 class, which features RB Marlin Lane, WR DeAnthony Arnett, OLB Curt Maggitt and OG Marcus Jackson, will surely solve some roster depth problems.

    Beyond 2011, Tennessee is working its hardest to get past the Lane Kiffin era, regain its NCAA prowess and give Dooley the players he needs.

    With that said, here are the top five recruits for 2012 that are most likely to commit to Tennessee.

5. Drae Bowles, WR, Undeclared

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    You can never have too many good wide receivers in college football, and Tennessee knows this.

    They've already spent a good amount of time recruiting Drae Bowles and will only do more in an attempt to sign him for the 2012 season.

    Bowles offers the Volunteers a strong over the middle option, can catch the ball in stride and use his quickness and strength to break loose from defenders.

    At 6'1", 205 lbs, Bowles reminds a lot of scouts of Dez Bryant.

    Not too shabby of a comparison.

    He's the No. 14 wide receiver in the country and has a solid chance in committing to UT sometime in the near future.

    Also, it doesn't hurt that he goes to high school in Tennessee.

4. Rushel Shell, RB, Undeclared

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    Rushel Shell is a huge running back prospect.

    And when I say huge, I mean huge.

    At 5'11, 215 lbs, Shell's a punishing back, using a great combination of power and speed that has made him one of the most productive backs in the 2012 class.

    Shell's an all-around great talent that's able to block well, catch out of the backfield and put a team on his back by moving the chains on every down.

    He averaged nearly 8.0 YPC in 2010 with 27 rushing touchdowns.

    Shell's a shifty runner, able to redirect his stride in an instance and more than capable of reaching top speed in little to no time.

    It's going to be hard for Tennessee to land the No. 4 running back in the country, but the Vols can't get enough tailbacks on their roster, so Derek Dooley should be all ears in trying to pry Shell from other top colleges.

3. Landon Collins, S, Undeclared

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    Landon Collins is one of the only safeties that Tennessee has recruited thus far.

    At 6'0", 210 lbs, Collins is a great player at the line of scrimmage, using his size and speed to hawk down opponents.

    He's projected to be sort of a hybrid safety, offering whichever college he goes to a nose for hard tackling and in the box dominance.

    If Tennessee really feels they need Collins, they should be able to attract the young defender and compliment his play by implementing some game-time schemes that adjust to his tendencies.

    Food for thought: Four out of the five teams that have heavily recruited Collins are from the SEC.

2. Khalid Henderson, OLB, Verbal Committment

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    Tennessee has already signed a solid outside linebacker in Khalid Henderson.

    A four-star recruit, Henderson makes up for his small size with great game changing ability.

    He's projected to help the Volunteers on defense and special teams, but can also be used in the slot as a wide receiver or another option at tailback on passing downs.

    Henderson is one of only two players to verbally commit to Tennessee so far, but they couldn't ask for anything better.

    He's a very athletic talent, provides great quickness off the line and down the field on special teams, has great blitz anticipation skills and is an all-around tough noise player.

    Going forward, Henderson should provide great depth and unmatched effort at either positions for the Vols in 2012.

1. Imani Cross, RB, Verbal Committment

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    The second player to commit thus far to play in Tennessee in 2012 is running-back Imani Cross.

    Cross is a four-star recruit capable of banging inside and breaking through the line with great patience.

    At 6'0", 220 lbs, he doesn't have Reggie Bush speed, but his size and strength make it hard for defenders to arm tackle the young back.

    He's a solid catcher, strong blocker and consistently breaks first contact, which does wonders when he's sniffing out the first-down markers.

    Cross should be a great compliment for Marlin Lane over the next few seasons and could fill in nicely if the Volunteers fail to sign Rushel Shell or even after the departure of Tauren Poole after the upcoming 2011 season.