'24 TN OT Ronan O’Connell

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After getting his first Power Five scholarship offer in late February from Tennessee, Ronan O'Connell didn’t wait long to take his first look at the Vols. They’re already hoping to see him again soon.

The Class of 2024 offensive lineman from Page High School in Franklin, Tenn., said Tennessee made a strong first impression on him March 5 during his visit for the Vols’ latest junior day. He enjoyed seeing Tennessee’s campus for the first time and meeting coach Josh Heupel’s staff in person, and he already likes Tennessee “a lot.”

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound O’Connell said he’s already looking into visiting the Vols again for one of their spring practices.

“It was good,” said O’Connell, who received an offer from Tennessee on Feb. 26, just a week before he made the trip to Knoxville. “I mean, I really liked the campus. I went there on a pretty day, and it was packed because of the basketball game, so it was really good to see the environment and everything.

“I mean, I like it a lot. I want to go back there soon for, like, spring practice and everything. I liked the campus and the facility and everything. It was really cool.”

O’Connell said his favorite part of the visit “was the basketball game — just seeing the fans and how they are, like, just for the basketball game, and you could just see how it would be for the football games.”

The sellout crowd of 21,678 inside Thompson-Boling Arena for Tennessee’s basketball game against Arkansas caught his attention.

“I didn’t know people were getting that excited over (basketball),” O’Connell said.

He also enjoyed getting a better feel for Tennessee’s staff. He said he “talked to a lot of people,” including Alex Golesh — the Vols’ offensive coordinator and tight ends coach — and offensive line coach Glen Elarbee.

“Probably Coach Golesh and Coach Elarbee were the (main) two — mostly Coach Elarbee,” O’Connell said. “(They were) mostly just getting to know me — stuff like that.

“I think all the coaches seem very likable. They were super human. I liked that. They’re all friendly. They just told us about, like, all the improvement with the offense last year and everything like that, and it was really just telling us about, find real coaches that care about you — stuff like that. And it seemed like they did.”

Before the visit, O’Connell said he only had heard that Tennessee’s “campus is pretty big,” and “it seemed nice” while he was there. He came away with a high opinion of the Vols, and he said he might make a couple more trips to Knoxville within the next few months.

“Coach Elarbee was talking to me about coming back for spring practice and stuff like that,” O’Connell said.

After learning of his Tennessee offer, he said he was planning to attend one of the Vols’ camps in June. Coming off his first trip to Knoxville, he said, “I think I’m still going to go” there to work with Tennessee’s coaches on the field.
-Callahan
 

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