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Fulmer Would Have ‘Jumped All Over’ Arkansas Job

Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer’s name surfaced last month in connection with the Arkansas coaching job after the Razorbacks fired Bobby Petrino.

Doug Matthews – a former Tennessee assistant coach and friend of Fulmer – told WGFX-FM in Nashville that communication had been made by Arkansas with Fulmer, who denied at the time having been contacted by the Razorbacks.

Arkansas, of course, decided to hire John L. Smith, who served as an assistant in Fayetteville from 2009-11 before leaving for a brief stint as Weber State’s head coach.

But Fulmer, who was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday, made it clear he would have been very interested in coaching at Arkansas had the Razorbacks offered him the position.

“The Arkansas job I would have jumped all over,” Fulmer said Tuesday during an interview on WGFX. “That was a really special situation and a really good team and had a chance. And that’s what I’ve said all along – I’m looking for an opportunity you can go compete for championships. At this stage in my career, I’m not looking for a dead end somewhere.

“I miss coaching. I also enjoy time with my family and children and grandchildren and all those things and the business that I’m in. Once you’ve done it for as long as I have, you have a passion for young people and the competition and all those things. You obviously miss it.”

Fulmer, who told WGFX that Arkansas officials spoke to his representatives, said he recognized why the Razorbacks went with Smith.

“I certainly understand the familiarity with John L. was a good thing for them as it turns out and I hope he does well,” Fulmer said.

Fulmer is more than familiar with Tennessee having served as a player, assistant coach and head coach at the school. He was asked if he could see himself returning to the school in an administrative or other role in the future.

“You never say never in the athletics world,” Fulmer said. “Today is kind of more of a day to celebrate what all we accomplished as a staff and as an organization during that time and not really to reflect on what could be somewhere down the road. Tennessee is my school and I love it dearly and the people that had anything to do with my leaving Tennessee are not there any longer and we’ll see what happens.”

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart appears hopeful that Fulmer’s presence on campus will be more frequent. He was asked Tuesday during the school’s caravan stop if he would like to see Fulmer around the program more often in the future.

“Absolutely, and that’s what I’ve stressed to him,” Hart said.

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Vanderbilt Continues Its Splash In Recruiting

Brian Kimbrow helped continue the trend of Vanderbilt’s 2012 recruiting class when he committed to the Commodores on Friday.

The reason I made that decision is I like to be different,” the Memphis, Tenn., tailback said during an announcement ceremony in Nashville, according to 247Sports.com. “I like a challenge. I don’t want anything given to me. It’s close to home and it felt like home and it gave me an opportunity to be successful after football.”

And Kimbrow should give Vanderbilt a better chance of being successful at football. He’s considered the state’s top prospect and the nation’s third-best all-purpose running back by 247Sports.

Kimbrow joins a recruiting class that is creating buzz around the country. Along with Kimbrow, Vanderbilt received commitments from defensive end Caleb Azubike and wide receiver Cory Batey on Friday. The Commodores have 11 commitments for the class of 2012.

First-year Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has been busy selling recruits on the idea they can get a quality education while also helping Vanderbilt change its luck on the football field.

“We can do something special,” Kimbrow told SI.com. “That’s something I’m interested in.”

Schools like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Notre Dame and Southern California were interested in Kimbrow. Oh yeah, Tennessee was, too. Kimbrow tried on a Vols hat before placing it down on the table during the ceremony, which was carried live on WGFX radio in Nashville.

“Nah, it didn’t fit,” Kimbrow said, according to SI. “It’s Vandy.”

And there’s the difference Franklin has made for Vanderbilt. UT isn’t used to losing in-state prospects to the other SEC team in the state. Franklin is trying to make it a trend and he’s challenging prospects to join him.

“If you feel that you are the best and the brightest, come prove it with me week in and week out,” Franklin told SI.com on Wednesday. “If you’re afraid of competition, then you’d better not be playing major division football, and you’d better not be considering the SEC.”

Where Vanderbilt’s class will finish among SEC teams remains to be seen. Remember, prospects can’t sign with schools for another seven months. Still, the most recent class rankings published by ESPN.com places Vanderbilt at No. 24 in the nation.

How will prospects view Vanderbilt if the Commodores struggle in Franklin’s first season on the field? We’ll see, but these prospects choosing the Commodores have already seen the struggle in the past.

“I’ve had a chance to think about this for two years now,” Kimbrow told SI. “I’ve been recruited since 10th grade. … This is where I feel comfortable. This is where I want to go.”

And other top prospects in the Southeast appear ready to join him.

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