June 23, 2008

McHaney won't rush decision

Thad McHaney is taking a deliberate, methodical approach to his recruiting journey. But the 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end from Brentwood Academy already has found some common ground with first-year Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, who is recruiting McHaney.

"I would like to say I know him (Clawson) pretty good and we connect on some good levels," said McHaney, a Rivals.com three-star prospect and the nation's No. 27 tight end in the class of 2009. "He seems like a pretty good person, very passionate and eager to learn more about Tennessee, much as I am."

Already McHaney has visited both in-state SEC residents Vanderbilt and Tennessee; he also has a short list of other schools he hopes to check out this summer.

"I plan on visiting Kentucky, Louisville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State," said McHaney, who first palmed a basketball around age 11 and requires size 16 cleats.

McHaney intends to gather as much information about each prospective suitor as possible. He'll examine both on- and off-the-field factors before making a decision.

"I'm just trying to take my time and make the decision," said McHaney, who also lines up as an imposing defensive end for Brentwood Academy. "I want to learn more about all the colleges, their systems and all of that."

Does early playing time play a major role in the decision-making process for McHaney, who's concentrating this summer on boosting his strength and route-running?

"It does a little bit," McHaney said, "but I'm mainly just focused on education and environment. Things like that."

On his Knoxville trip, McHaney did find several factors appealing from the Tennessee program.

"It seemed like they were very family oriented," said McHaney, who believes his athleticism, quickness and effectiveness using his hands are strengths. "They have a great tradition. It would be really fun to go there. My main goal is just to win a championship."

Playing for a Brentwood Academy program that ranks alongside Maryville in Tennessee's high school record books for most state championships, McHaney acknowledged that the opportunity to compete for conference crowns and other titles is paramount. That Tennessee won the SEC Eastern Division title last year and has twice reached the SEC title game in the past four seasons doesn't hurt the Vols.

"It's definitely an option because they have a great tradition and they know how to handle players and prepare them for games," said McHaney, who's spending his summer both working out and working -- cutting grass and doing other work at Brentwood.

One of five Brentwood Academy players expected to ink Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) scholarships, McHaney said the players lean on each other to a certain extent during the recruiting process.

"We try to get advice from one another and talk about going to the same schools sometimes," he said. "We discuss all spectrums of the possibilities."

While Oklahoma and Oregon are among the latest programs to add to McHaney's ever-growing offer sheet, the state's top tight end prospect is certain about only two of his five official visits this fall.

"I've thought about it a little bit. I will definitely take two to Vanderbilt and Tennessee," he said. "The rest are up in the air."

Does that mean the Vols and Commodores register as the leaders at this point? Does one program stand above the other?

"I guess it would be safe to say that," McHaney said. "They're pretty much tied."

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