January 18, 2009

Decision becoming clearer to four-star Alabama LB

One would think that two weeks into his whirlwind three-weekend, three-visit tour of his Southeastern Conference, D.T. Shackelford would be more confused than ever.

Surprisingly, one would be wrong.

Hours after returning from his official visit to Ole Miss, the four-star linebacker from Decatur, Ala., said things are getting "clearer."

Shackelford, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder who committed to Tennessee prior to the resignation of former Volunteers coach Phillip Fulmer, took an official visit to Auburn prior to this weekend's trip to north Mississippi.

"I had committed at first, and I'm still committed, but I'm taking it one week at a time," said Shackelford, who will take his final official visit to Tennessee beginning on Friday. "I'm just evaluating and see how it is. Both schools I've been to are nice schools with great people."

As for his trip to Oxford, his second since November, Shackelford gave Ole Miss high marks.

"I enjoyed my visit a lot," Shackelford said. "Those are good people there at Ole Miss. I enjoyed it. …You get to talk to the players when the coaches aren't around. I found out more about the field (education) I'd be going into, playing time, the relationships I'd have with my coaches and stuff."

One of the highlights of the trip, Shackelford said, was a long visit with Ole Miss defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Tyrone Nix.

"Coach Nix is a straight-forward person," Shackelford said. "I admire him for that. He doesn't sugarcoat it like a lot of other coaches. He said the opportunity is going to be there. I just have to go in and seize it. He said I have to earn it. It won't come easy."

Shackelford visited with his parents, and they "liked it down there. That's what's making it so competitive. I liked both coaching staffs. They both just told me the truth. They both have good tradition."

Shackelford said he liked Oxford as well, one week after finding Auburn to his liking. Knoxville, Tenn., is more of a metropolitan area than either Auburn or Oxford, but Shackelford said that won't matter.

"That won't play a factor into my decision," Shackelford said. "Tennessee is big and Ole Miss is little. Auburn will fall between those two. The size of the town isn't going to matter. …I don't think it's going to be an easy decision. I think those phone calls (to the schools he ultimately doesn't choose) are going to be hard."

Shackelford, who was hosted on his visit by Ole Miss sophomore defensive end Kentrell Lockett, said he still doesn't have a leader as he makes the trip to Knoxville Friday to meet with new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin and the Vols' new staff.

"I'm open right now, but I'm committed to Tennessee," Shackelford said. "It's a new staff, so I'll have to see how it is. I'm probably going to make a decision 3-4 days after I get back from Tennessee."

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