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January 28, 2004Four-star Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy standout David Holbert is headed to Rocky Top for his college career.
Holbert announced his decision today in a press conference at his school, picking Tennessee over Florida and Auburn.
In the end, however, it boiled down to a classic confrontation between the rival Vols and Gators.
"Florida and UT were neck and neck the whole time," he said. "It just came down to the fact that it will be easier for my family to come and see me at UT."
Holbert visited Tennessee in December, but was just coming off what he described as a "9.9" visit to Florida on the weekend of Jan. 16.
It appeared the Gators may have briefly overtaken the Vols at that time, but Tennessee quickly dispatched its staff to reel in the key recruit.
"I developed a good relationship with the new running backs coach (Trooper Taylor) since he came on board," he said. "He's a nice guy. He's real. He doesn't hold anything back when he talks to you."
Taylor joined the Vols' staff after the departure of Woody McCorvey, who took the offensive coordinator's position at Mississippi State under Sylvester Croom. He came to Tennessee from Tulane with a reputation as a bright, young recruiter.
Taylor met with Holbert immediately after the Florida visit, and UT head coach Phil Fulmer followed up with an in-home visit early this week that appeared to seal the deal.
Holbert said he called Florida and Auburn this morning to give them the word prior to calling Fulmer.
Asked what the coach's reaction was, Holbert said:
"He was real happy," he said. "He said he'd sleep easier tonight."
Holbert (6-1, 225, 4.6) is rated the No. 4 fullback in the nation by Rivals.com. He rushed for 20 touchdowns as a senior.
He said he's been told he'll be able to compete for a starting job with the Vols.
"I think I'll be the No. 2 fullback coming in, but I'll fight for a position," he said. "I don't like being No. 2."