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Foreman, Swafford embrace Big Orange future

February 6th, 2013 10:45 pm by George Thwaites

Foreman, Swafford embrace Big Orange future

KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett’s Malik Foreman said receiving a football scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee in late December was like “Christmas, birthdays, everything” all rolled into one.


A roomful of coaches, family and friends gathered at Dobyns-Bennett’s Alumni Field House Wednesday afternoon to belatedly share his elation.


Foreman, who started out playing wide receiver and defensive back for the Indians and ended up leading D-B to the state quarterfinals at quarterback, signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Vols next fall.


Earlier in the day, Volunteer High School observed its first-ever Division I football scholarship when offensive lineman Conner Trent signed to play for Middle Tennessee State.


Upstairs at Dobyns-Bennett’s “Taj Mahal” overlooking J. Fred Johnson Stadium, ceremonies were conducted for seven college-bound athletes, including five football players.


It was a big deal for all. In Foreman’s case, it was a Big Orange Deal.


“I'd been watching UT football ever since I was a little kid. It has always been my dream to play there. So when they offered I just jumped right on it,” said Foreman, who de-committed from Vanderbilt in order to accept Tennessee’s bid.


Also recognized Wednesday was Devaun Swafford, who will enroll at Tennessee next fall. Swafford has been promised a football scholarship as part of the 2014 recruiting class, possibly sooner.


Swafford was working out with Foreman when UT running backs coach Jay Graham called the D-B field house. Graham is the lone Derek Dooley staffer retained by new Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.


“It came out of nowhere. He offered us both. He offered me a grayshirt and he offered (Foreman) a full scholarship. It was pretty exciting,” said Swafford, who received offers from seven NCAA Football Championship Series programs, including Furman, Liberty and Tennessee-Chattanooga.


D-B coach Graham Clark noted that Tennessee showed no interest in either player until several weeks after Foreman had committed to Vanderbilt. Foreman was unmoved.


After Dooley’s departure, however, it quickly became obvious that positive changes were afoot in Knoxville. Finding a way to keep Foreman and Swafford on the same team was a smart recruiting move on Tennessee’s part, Clark said.


“They’re best friends. They’re workout partners. You’ll come down here on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll see them down in the stadium. I don’t know which one of them has to climb the fence,” quipped Clark.


Dobyns-Bennett offensive lineman Thomas Edwards was certainly impressed by the new shade of orange. He said he turned down opportunities with FCS programs including Tennessee-Chattanooga and Austin Peay in order to join Tennessee next fall as a preferred walk-on. He’ll get a chance to compete for a scholarship as part of the squad.


For the full stories on local and national talent tying the knot on National Signing Day, see the Feb. 7 edition of the Kingsport Times-News.

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