January 19, 2009

Arthur Jeffery raves about UT visit

The fan reaction, at first, was a bit disarming to Arthur Jeffery Saturday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The big, 6-foot-4-inch, 285-pound defensive tackle was on his official visit to Tennessee, and a crowd of more than 20,000 stuffed into the Volunteers' basketball home was giving coaches and recruits alike a standing ovation.

"That right there surprised me," said Jeffery, who pledged to UT last month. "Some guy literally came out of the stands to give me a handshake. I was shocked by that; I was nervous at first, but he was just showing his love for the team.

"That let's me know that it's not even football season and this is how they feel about us. Imagine how they will feel during the season. The people there are just great and fabulous."

"Love" was a common theme on the visit for the three-star product, who showed brilliant flashes of dominance before a season-ending knee injury, during his chilly weekend in Knoxville.

"Oh man, it was the best thing I've ever done," said the Sarasota (Fla.) Booker High School product. "I loved everything the way they got it set up. I mean, it was great. And then some of the other commits and recruits, they were cool. I loved them, too. I actually think we're going to get a lot more commitments, and I'm looking forward to getting up there."

Like many of the other recruits, Jeffery raved about his experience inside Neyland Stadium during his visit -- particularly a dress rehearsal press conference he conducted alongside four-star defensive tackle Pearlie Graves.

"It was a great time at the stadium and did a lot for us," Jeffery said. "We got a firsthand experience on how to come out for gameday. It was great. We even did a mock press conference. That was fun. It seemed like it was actually real. The camera was rolling, they were asking questions.

"There was another recruit, Pearlie Graves, they asked us how me and him were able to get so many sacks. Asked us if we were going to be able to get the school record."

Jeffery caught himself off-guard with his unrehearsed response to the question.

"I was surprised at how well I answered the question; it's just playing as a team and a family that helps one another," he said. "When someone is busy and worried about me, they're leaving him (Graves) one on one. It's basically just a rotation on who's going to get sacks, we take turns and are playing for the man next to you."

Now Jeffery can't wait to return to Knoxville for a longer stay.

"I can't wait to get back up there," said Jeffery, who raved about hosts Ben Martin and Chris Walker. "I mean, I felt like I was at home. My home right now is a nice environment, but when I was up there, it felt like I had already been there for 20 years. It was just great. I loved the environment, they tend to you well. I met a bunch of nice people. I loved it. And I even met a couple of guys with the same mentality: Winning edge, settle for nothing less."

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