Back in December when Oliver “Ollie” Lane’s (OLLIE LANE PROFILE) recruitment was going from a slow simmer to a percolating boil, coaches the likes of Jim Chaney and Justin Wilcox, among others, found their way to Gibbs High School.
So, too, did coaches from Northwestern, Duke and myriad other outposts. Yet it was late in the fall when the University of Tennessee coaches first invited the now 6-foot-5, 290-pound Lane to a Vols’ game.
Days ago and then announced earlier Wednesday morning, Lane verbally committed to Butch Jones & Co. as the third member of the Vols’ 2018 class.
“It’s home, it’s where I grew up,” Lane said, “and it’s definitely a place where the coaches at Tennessee have made me feel like it’s home, and it’s been a dream in the making. It’s something that’s really exciting for me.”
Lane’s dream has materialized in an almost ideal evolution, according to Gibbs assistant coach Dustin Mynatt.
“We knew Ollie was special his freshman year,” Mynatt, Gibbs’ linebackers coach/special teams coordinator now but Lane’s defensive line coach two years, told me. “He played some varsity and had his struggles at times, but he was never discouraged.
“Him using those struggles as motivation and correcting those mistakes at such an early age, and constantly improving, showed the potential he had and continues to have ahead of him in football.”
Lane said the UT coaches’ reactions to his phone call on Sunday further proved to Lane that he had made the correct choice.
“The first thing Coach (Walt) Wells said was, ‘Are you serious? Definitely made his Sunday,’” Lane said. “Then when I called Coach Jones, he told me that I gave him goosebumps. It means a lot to me that they really wanted me to come play football for them.”
With plenty of key returning players, Lane now can focus on his farewell season with the Gibbs Eagles who expect to be a force in East Tennessee football.
“It’s definitely a huge relief off the shoulders; not saying that the recruiting process is a heavy weight, but at the same time it’s definitely relieving to know where I’m going to play football,” Lane said. “And I can start preparing for that next four years of my life after Gibbs High School.
“Being able to sit down and focus on the season with my best friends that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
UPDATE ON JORDAN MURPHY
The top-rated wideout prospect in the Vols’ ’17 signing class was Mississippi native Jordan Murphy, who has been trying to clear all academic hurdles down the stretch of his senior year of high school in Hattiesburg.
Sources in the Magnolia State have told me that Murphy had contemplated finishing out the school year at a private school, but as of now the Tennessee signing is set to close the year at Hattiesburg High School.
Per sources familiar with the situation, Murphy’s most recent ACT test score showed improved and his GPA is not an issue.
Another final obstacle unique to the state of Mississippi is the state’s required history exam.
That test on the state of Mississippi’s heritage and controversial past has “given 4.0 students a hard time,” one source said.
But if Murphy can up his composite scores a bit and handle the history test, he has positioned himself to be in much better shape to arrive at Tennessee on time this summer.