January 8, 2009

Visit time arrives for Shackelford

D.T. Shackelford remains committed to Tennessee, but the next few weeks could result in a change in that status.

The three-star linebacker from Decatur (Austin), Ala., will travel to Auburn Friday for a weekend on the Plains and then head west to Ole Miss for a weekend in Oxford before visiting Tennessee on Jan. 23 and possibly LSU on Jan. 30.

So while the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder is still pledged to Tennessee, the Volunteers have work to do to garner Shackelford's signature on Feb. 4.

"It's down to those four," Shackelford said Wednesday night. "I don't really have favorite. I am committed to Tennessee, but there are a lot of things I like in all those programs."

A lot of Shackelford's decision will be made based on the visits themselves, in large part because the four programs recruiting him have made such strong impressions.

"They're all saying the same things, that they like me as a person before they like me as a player," said Shackelford, who is ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 53 inside linebacker prospect. "That's a big compliment. I'm going to play football, but I want to get a degree first. All of them have great academic programs. That's a big plus for all of them.

"That's why you have to sit down and make the right decision. Every school has good qualities. They're all real good schools. That's why I'm glad the official visits are coming. I want to get a feel for the college life and the atmosphere. It's going to be based on how I feel."

Shackelford played host to Ole Miss offensive line coach Mike Markuson earlier this week. Shackelford said the visit went extremely well.

"The chances for Ole Miss are pretty good," said Shackelford, who took an unofficial visit to Ole Miss' win over Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 15 and came away impressed with the program and the atmosphere surrounding it.

Auburn coaches visited him earlier this week as well, and LSU got into the mix when former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis took the same post at LSU.

Shackelford said Wednesday that the process has made him realize that he's been blessed, but still, he's ready to make a final decision and move on to a new chapter in his life.

"When it first began, it was fun," Shackelford said. "It's nice to go through, but with all of the stuff it brings with it _ people asking you where you want to go _ it'll good to know where you're going to go and be set."

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