December 14, 2009

Are Vols in Stone's final 5?

When Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin took over Dec. 1 2008, one of his goals was to build a figurative fence around the Volunteer State to not let out any of the top prospects. One of the prospects Kiffn is trying to keep inside the fence is Nashville offensive lineman James Stone.

Stone said that after taking two of his official visits to Notre Dame and LSU he has been trying to decide where to spend his last few trips.

"I've really just been trying to nail things out," Stone said. "I've just been trying to figure out my visits."

Stone indicated that he enjoyed both visits but that with the changes at Notre Dame he’s not really considering the Irish much anymore.

Although Stone said he did not have schools on top of others at this point, he did say that he had a "solid five" of Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Stanford and Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-5-inch, 297-pounder went through his solid five and detailed what made each program stand out to him.

"UT's got a fiery coaching staff. They've got a great system that they've got their players in and they have an opportunity there," Stone said of the Vols. "It shows that they're really doing something with the program and what they're teaching is really working."

"Alabama, they have a solid foundation, solid program, they have great coaches and it's a great program and it's also a good school," Stone continued. "Then Vanderbilt, it's a great school, it's right here in town and I know coach (Robbie) Caldwell. I really like him."

"Stanford, it's a step up with the academics and things like that, like a lot of opportunities there. And they're an improving program," the Maplewood High School product added.

"And with Auburn, they have a lot of opportunities there. They got an explosive offense. They have a really good family atmosphere, they really care about their players there," he said.

Stone said that distance will not be a factor with his decision because most of the schools he is considering are in the same region with the exception of one.

"Really I was set on SEC schools being a part of a strong league, but there's just something about Stanford I like," the TSSAA Class AA Lineman of the Year pointed out.

In recent weeks Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has visited with Stone multiple times.

"He's been trying to talk to me about making my official down there. He's been telling me about UT and why they feel like I fit in good there," Stone said about his visits with Chaney.

While Stone has narrowed the schools that he may potentially land at, he has yet to narrow down where he will take his three remaining official visits.

But he knows he will be in Orlando on Jan. 2 for the Under Armour All-American game and is excited about the challenge.

"We get a challenge and a workout," he said. "We get to go up against a bunch of good players and have fun."

Rivals.com rates Stone as the No. 23 tackle in the nation and the No. 3 overall prospect in Tennessee.

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