January 16, 2011

Consistency in message makes Saulsberrys believers

The questions weren't many for defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry and his father, Richard, during an official visit this weekend to the University of Tennessee.

Besides, the elder Saulsberry explained, the Volunteers' coaching staff have answered those questions with their consistent message on each of the family's three trips to Rocky Top from their Gainesville, Fla., home.

"The thing about coach Dooley and his coaching staff, the Vol For Life program, and everyone that is involved, their message has been very consistent, and that's what sold us on the University of Tennessee." - Richard Saulsberry

"This is our third time up to Knoxville, and there weren't many questions I haven't had answered yet. I can tell you what we really like about Tennessee. I know Tennessee is recruiting my son to play football, but for me and my wife (Delatrone), it's all about who can develop our son as a young man the next four years," Richard Saulsberry said. "So when he's done in four years, he can be somebody who's going to be productive in society. Somebody I can be proud of, and somebody the University of Tennessee can be proud of. So, coach Dooley sold me on that. We know coach Dooley is there to get a winning product, but also coach Dooley has made a pledge to make my son a better man over the next four years as he plays football for the University of Tennessee.

"Consistency is very important. If you're not consistent, that lets me know that you are giving me a sales pitch and that the outcome is not going to be very good. The thing about coach Dooley and his coaching staff, the Vol For Life program, and everyone that is involved, their message has been very consistent, and that's what sold us on the University of Tennessee. So it's great."

Indeed, Trevarris Saulsberry is fully sold on the Vols. Sure, coaches from other programs around the country might try to inquire, but Saulsberry isn't entertaining any offers.

"Oh yeah, I'm committed to Tennessee. I've been hearing from coaches, but I'm not really listening to them," said Saulsberry, a quarter-inch shy of 6-5 and now 270 pounds. "I'm committed to Tennessee, and I'm not backing out on them."

For Saulsberry, who was among the Vols' earliest commitments in the 2011 class, this trip was a chance to better get to know his soon-to-be-teammates. UT's coaches also let Saulsberry know he remains an important part of their signing class.

"It was great. It was real fun. Got to know all the players and hung out. Met with all the coaches on the coaching staff," said Saulsberry, who was hosted by defensive end Willie Bohannon. "I was looking to get to know the players. I'm going to be with them the next four or five years. I just wanted to get to know them and see how they were."

Like several recruits, Saulsberry also gained a glimpse of the passion of Tennessee's fan base during Saturday's ESPN-televised basketball contest against rival Vanderbilt.

"When we were leaving, the whole crowd turned and gave us a round of applause," Saulsberry recalled, "and said, 'Way to go! We're ready for you to get to UT!' I'm excited to come up here. Dedicated fans. I love them."

Saulsberry said it was also good to hear the UT coaches' continued emphasis of his role in the Volunteers football program moving forward.

"They pulled me in the office and said we're still very interested in you. We don't want you to feel like you're falling back just because you're committed," he said. "They wanted me to know I'm a very top priority."

Tennessee, meanwhile, has been a top priority for Saulsberry since he first visited campus last summer for a two-day camp. Vols fans can thank his mother, Delatrone, for that occurrence. Both father and son had grown up Florida State Seminoles fans, and neither had given much thought to the Vols.

"I grew up in Florida, in the panhandle of Florida in Jackson County. Grew up a big Florida State fan, and so did my son. My son didn't have any interest in Tennessee," Richard Saulsberry said. "My wife was the one who made him come to Tennessee. He came here for the two-day camp this summer and really fell in love with the coaching staff and coach Dooley. The way they are hands-on, and coach Smith, the defensive line coach. And the fact of what I said earlier, the development of my son over the next four years.

"Because everybody would love to be in the NFL, but the NFL isn't for everybody. My son, maybe or maybe not. But when he's done at Tennessee, I believe my son will be able to stand on his own two feet.

"One of the big things was we want to be able to come to all of his games. The SEC allows us to do that. If you look at the opponents in the SEC, from Gainesville, we can get to any of them. Sometimes in the ACC, Big East, Big 12 or Big 10, you may have to travel a long way and that gets expensive. But you know, the SEC is really a good place for him to develop as a football player, a young man and he can get his education."

Further, Saulsberry will do so alongside his de facto brother, fellow commitment Jordan Williams, who also took his official visit to Tennessee this weekend.

"It's great, because we've been brothers since like second grade," Saulsberry said of his longtime friendship with Williams. "It's an honor play with my somewhat brother, I guess you could day. We started off in basketball, and we gradually went into football."

Saulsberry is a three-star prospect rated near the top 50 players at his position nationally by Rivals.com.

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