July 15, 2009

Will Brunetti listen to renewed Vols' interest?

Memphis quarterback Barry Brunetti grew up attending youth football camps in West Tennessee. Now he's helping with the instruction at those same youth camps as he spends part of his summer vacation tutoring the athletes of tomorrow.

Brunetti, a West Virginia commitment, also grew up cheering for Tennessee and the Vols are starting to pick back up their recruitment of the talented signal-caller. Is he listening to what they have to say?

"I'm hearing a lot from them," Brunetti said. "As I'm telling everyone, I'm still solid to West Virginia. I don't blow people off and I'm listening to what they have to say."

But the question remains, if Brunetti is solid to the Mountaineers then why listen to what the Vols have to say?

"I don't see myself changing my mind," Brunetti said. "I don't want to burn bridges. I'm going to listen, but I'm not leaving West Virginia."

Still at a stalemate and asked for a third time, Brunetti finally left a small crack in his recruitment for a possible orange-clad ending. So what would it take for Tennessee to get back in the race for Brunetti?

"I don't know," Brunetti said. "That's a tough question to answer. My mind is all about West Virginia right now so I don't know what that will mean in the future. I don't know if it will happen."

A seemingly perfect fit for West Virginia's spread attack, Brunetti credits the Mountaineer program for his commitment last month.

"They have been recruiting me really hard since signing day," Brunetti said. "I was up there for three or four days and I didn't get anything negative about the program. I know I can come in and compete and have the chance for early playing time there.'

Growing up Brunetti dreamed of playing football for Tennessee. That made his lack of early interest even harder to take as Tennessee chased quarterback after quarterback only to be dumped at the drive-in on more than one occasion. Blake Bell decided early on that Oklahoma was his best fit. Jake Heaps chose to stay west at BYU. Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees both chose Notre Dame, while Chase Rettig chose Boston College. Four-star quarterback Jesse Scroggins remains a possibility, but that will be a tough sale with heavyweight and local powerhouse Southern Cal in the mix.

At only 6-foot tall, Brunetti has always been doubted as a quarterback, but that only makes his resolve that much tougher.

"I kind of knew that my height would cause Tennessee to overlook me," Brunetti said. "I can't get mad that they want a taller guy in their offense. Tennessee has always been my dream school back to when coach (Phillip) Fulmer was there. I always thought that I was better than the guys they were recruiting but I'm not as tall as those guys are. It just makes me work even harder."

Tennessee recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron has always been firmly behind Brunetti. Playing for "Coach O" has always been a possibility and still might be if Tennessee pushes hard enough for another look.

"Coach O has always been in my corner," Brunetti said. "If he was still the head coach then I'm sure I'd probably have gotten my first offer from him. He doesn't make the calls on the offensive side of the ball. I've always had love for Coach O."

Brunetti will head west for the Elite 11 camp and after that he'll return home to get ready for the his senior year.

Rivals.com rates Brunetti as a 4-star quarterback in the class of 2010. He's also a member of the Rivals250 and the top dual-threat quarterback in the country.

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