December 19, 2008

Askew excited about competing for Vols

Jerod Askew admits he had expected a certain demeanor from Lane Kiffin when the first-year University of Tennessee coach recently visited Askew in his Chesapeake, Va., home.

"Coach Kiffin is a cool guy. Very cool," said the four-star linebacker from Oscar Smith High School and Vols commitment. "I thought he would come in all cocky, but he was very humorous. We talked defense, he said I was a great fit for that defensive scheme. I looked at the way he did it on the board and there's no problem, no way I can't play with that defense."

While his interaction with Kiffin ranks as a pleasant surprise for the linebacker rates as the No. 1 run-stuffer in the 2009 signing class, Askew continues to enjoy his relationship with his primary Tennessee contact, rising recruiting standout and Vols wideout coach Latrell Scott.

"Even though coach Scott didn't know if he was leaving or not, he called me almost daily and stayed in tune on coach Kiffin and how he felt about everything," said Askew, who closed his sparkling career with 130-tackle season, including 14 tackles in Oscar Smith High School's state title win. "He let me know all that before I even met (Kiffin). It's a great feeling that coach Scott put me in.

"Coach Scott, I trust him. That's most important thing with your recruiting coach. I really trust him. He keeps it real on a daily basis, and I just can feel that connection."

Opponents felt Askew's sting at an incredibly high rate. Of his 130-tackle senior season, the third-straight campaign with more than 100 stops, Askew notched 30 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, 12 of them sacks. He added three interceptions.

One talent evaluator said film of Askew's performance in the state title game, when 10 of his 14 tackles came in the first half, looked like a season-long highlight reel.

Askew had a greater motivation in mind for that contest. His classmate and teammate, Lonnie Andrews II, was shot and killed near their Chesapeake home.

"The state championship was a wonderful experience. We came out there and tried to play with emotion and intensity for a teammate who lost his life," said Askew, who has a 4.7 GPA on a 5.0 scale. "It helped motivate us in pre-game, we talked it out and talked about how we're going to come through this game. Everybody was so intense, and I think everybody probably played their best game. I looked at it like it was my last game. I did everything I could to help my teammates come through with a win."

This week Askew and his teammates reached out to honor Andrews, whose son, Lonnie Andrews III, was born Monday, the child of Andrews II and longtime girlfriend Diamond DeLoatch.

"That was pretty nice," Askew said of visiting baby and mom in the hospital. "One thing, as a friend, was to make sure we bring that ring home. I was just proud to do anything to help that situation with his loss; I felt very proud of myself. Going up there and winning that state championship and then seeing the baby, that gave me a lot of hope for the baby and the mother."

Askew's personal hope is continued success in the classroom and personal improvement in preparation for arriving at Tennessee. He took note of Kiffin's comments on ESPN promising "competition" for all positions on the field.

"I'm just ready to go out there and play with all my strengths, bring everything I can," said the 6-foot, 230-pounder. "I feel like having a new coaching staff that I know is going to push me harder and basically, I want to go out and practice hard and make good grades and work hard for the team, maybe get that starting position.

"Definitely (like the idea of competing). (Kiffin) even said that during one interview on ESPN. That got my eyes open and started thinking about what can I do in the offseason to prepare me for next year."

To that end, Askew plans to hit the weight room and work on "getting bigger, faster, stronger and more wind. I'm going to work as hard as I can so that I can have that energy to come in and compete with the other players."

A four-star prospect, Askew is rated the No. 71 player in the most recent Rivals100.

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