<
>

Vols win Bryce Brown sweepstakes

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

These post-signing day decisions are turning up roses for Tennessee's football team.

Running back Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., announced Monday that he was signing with Tennessee during a press conference at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

The 6-foot, 215-pound Brown was rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 2 running back prospect in the country and the eighth-best prospect overall in the ESPNU 150 rankings.

Brown joins running back David Oku as a pair of highly rated players signing late with the Vols, which only strengthens what was already a Top-15 class by first-year coach Lane Kiffin. Oku, who recently moved from Midwest City, Okla., to Lincoln, Neb., was rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 13 running back prospect in the country.

If Brown turns out to be half as good a player as his recruitment has been bizarre, then the Vols are in for a treat.

Brown had been committed to Miami since last year, but opened up his recruitment and elected not to do anything on national signing day. He took additional visits, including trips to LSU and Tennessee, and was evasive about what his plans were.

He has an adviser, Brian Butler, who runs the show. And it's definitely been a show.

Butler is a former rapper and cell phone call center manager who advises, trains and handles all media requests for a group of players, including Brown.

The New York Times reported last month that the NCAA was investigating Butler, including his relationship with Brown. At one point, Butler was charging money for people to get updates on Brown's recruitment via a Web site, Potentialplayers.com. The Web site is still up and running, but Butler is no longer charging for the updates.

Butler also discussed the possibility of sending Brown straight to the CFL during the recruiting process, but that talk died down. Miami pulled out of the running and reportedly rescinded its scholarship offer, but an assortment of schools -- LSU, Kansas State, Oregon and Tennessee -- all continued to actively pursue Brown.

And on Monday, Brown ended this recruiting circus (aren't they all?) by saying he would sign with the Vols.

He's obviously a terrific player and is the kind of talent that could be a difference-maker immediately this fall when he gets on campus.

But with the NCAA poking around on his adviser, you can't help but wonder if he's worth the risk.

We'll find out soon enough.