Tennessee’s high-flying recruiting tactics didn’t wow everybody.
Northview defensive lineman Denzel McCoy, who has been committed to Georgia Tech since April, has long been a target of the Volunteers. He said Tennessee assistant coach Ed Orgeron called him Friday and said head coach Lane Kiffin were going to be at his game against North Gwinnett last Friday in Suwanee.
“I didn’t know they were going to come in a helicopter,” McCoy said with a laugh.
The Vols’ coaches flew there in a rented helicopter after watching the first half of the M.L King-Stephenson game in Clarkston.
“I thought it was interesting,” McCoy said, “but it didn’t really affect me. That’s why I committed to Tech when I did, so I would have recruiting behind me and be able to concentrate on my senior season. I’m solid with Tech. I told them that.”
The copter ploy didn’t have quite the same effect in Suwanee as it did at Hallford Stadium, where the pilot landed about 30 yards away from the field in full view of the stadium crowd. In Suwanee they arrived after the game had started and had to land a quarter-mile away in the backyard of resident Lee Wood. There they were met by North Gwinnett athletics director Mark Karen, who then drove them to the stadium. They did buzz the stadium before landing, however.
“They wanted to [land next to stadium] but we couldn’t let them for safety reasons. We have too many Georgia fans,” Karen joked.
No, most of the Tennessee coaches’ work was done before the game. They visited North Gwinnett High and coach Bob Sphire in the afternoon — offensive tackle JaWuan James is the Vols’ No. 1 target — and called McCoy on the phone.
“Coach Kiffin told me he respected my decision to go with Tech,” said McCoy, who said he still gets hand-written letters from Kiffin every week. “But he told me it broke his heart when he heard I committed and said he wanted me to come up on Oct. 31. He said he was hired on my birthday, Dec. 1, and that made it destiny for me to come to Tennessee.”
McCoy said he respectfully declined. He said the Vols’ coaches made a similar play for Yellow Jackets’ commitment Anthony Williams of Union Grove. Williams also declined an invitation to visit Tennessee.
Not only does McCoy remain loyal to Georgia Tech, he is also one of the Yellow Jackets’ most effective recruiters. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder, who plays defensive end for Northview, talks to almost every one of Tech’s commitments every week and has forged relationships with some of its uncommitted recruits as well.
“”I’m on a lot of guys right now,” McCoy said matteroffactly. “I talk to [d-line recruit] Kareem Martin every Tuesday and Thursday just to see how he’s doing and see how his recruitment is going and tell him why he ought to come play for us.”
In fact, McCoy is like the social butterfly of football recruiting. He said he’s best friends with UGA commitment Garrison Smith of Douglass High. Among the numbers you’ll find in McCoy’s phone are those of Tennessee commitment Markeith Ambles of Henry County, Vanderbilt commitment Chris Boyd of Roswell, Stephenson High defensive tackle Mike Thornton, Tennessee commitments Brandon Willis and Corey Miller of Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., Washington commitment Nick Montana of California.
“I talk to everybody,” McCoy said. “I just know a lot of people, I guess. I’ve lived in two big cities, here and Miami, and I guess I’m kind of a people person.”
As for Tennessee, McCoy said it was one of the schools he seriously considered out of more than 30 offers.
“I actually went there for Junior Day,” he said. “I was there for the whole ‘Wild Boys’ shirt thing.”
His impression? Not impressed.
“One of the things I liked about Tech was, Coach [Giff] Smith and Coach [Paul] Johnson, they didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear,” McCoy said. “They were telling me the truth about things. That whole helicopter thing, it’s not for me.”