It did not take a full day of touring the University of Tennessee campus and football facilities for Havelock defensive lineman Kendal Vickers to know where he wants to play college football.
Vickers, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder, who previously committed to South Carolina, took a tour of Tennessee Friday guided by Volunteers’ coaches and made the decision to pledge to Tennessee.
Vickers and his family made the eight-hour drive to Knoxville for the visit before heading to Tallahassee, Fla. to visit other family members.
“It has been crazy. Seeing the facilities here and the stadium and everything, I love it,” Vickers said. “Their brand new weight room really caught my eye and the indoor practice facilities are so nice, as well as the coaches being genuine guys. It is the place for me.”
Vickers had initially pledged to attend South Carolina, but the Gamecocks planned to send the lineman to a junior college before bringing him to the campus. With Tennessee, Vickers will arrive on the Knoxville, Tenn., campus on July 8.
Vickers said that during his tour of Neyland Stadium, he went everywhere, including the press box and even the roof over the press box.
That is where Vickers said he made the decision to commit to new Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.
“I told Coach Jones that I wanted to be a Vol, and he just gave me a big ole’ hug,” Vickers said.
Vickers played both the offensive and defensive line during last season’s 3A state championship campaign.
Vickers said he feels he brings that pedigree of winning, along with strength and athleticism coming off the defensive end.
“They (coaches) want me to be a pass-rushing defensive end, and that is what I have always wanted to be,” Vickers said. “They are committed to winning and I want to do my part to help Tennessee get back to an SEC championship.”
Vickers, who was not a full-time starter on defense, recorded 29 tackles and 6.5 sacks for the Rams in his senior season.
Vickers said that he is most thrilled to know he will be competing against former Havelock teammate and future South Carolina Gamecock Pharoh Cooper for the next four years.
“Competing in the SEC is what I always wanted to do,” he said. “I love to compete and the competition here is the best.
“Coach Jones told me they are running a 4-3 defense and he sees me playing end and being a great pass rusher. Competing against Pharoh (Cooper) is just going to be so much fun and wherever Derrell (Scott) goes, either compete with or against him, too.”
Vickers said he is looking into majoring in broadcast journalism.